State Health Dept: Five accidental TN gun deaths; not 105

News release from state Department of Health
NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Health confirmed today that a data error resulted in inaccurate accidental gunshot death numbers for 2014 being reported.

After manually reviewing death certificates, TDH reports five people died from accidental gunshot wounds in the state in 2014. In an additional eight cases, the manner of death was left blank or marked as pending on the death certificate but no follow-up death certificate was sent to the department; however, a review of the autopsies for those cases indicated none of those eight were accidental deaths.

  Incorrect data provided earlier (previous post HERE) indicated the number of accidental gunshot deaths had dramatically escalated from 19 in 2013 to 105 in 2014.

(Note: The Safe Tennessee Project says it has counted 14 accidental gun deaths in 2015. Statement is below the Health Department release.)

“We regret any confusion that may have arisen when data errors affected the number of deaths attributed to the accidental discharge of firearms in our state,” said TDH Deputy Commissioner for Population Health Michael Warren, MD, MPH.

“Even one accidental death is too many, and all firearm owners need to have a heightened sense of awareness about protecting themselves and others from the harm a loaded weapon may cause. We strongly encourage all firearm owners to take the proper training necessary to reduce the risk of accidents.”   
Annual accidental gun deaths in Tennessee since 1999:

1999:      47
2000:      44
2001:      49
2002:      46
2003:      37
2004:      38
2005:      36
2006:      30
2007:      22
2008:      17
2009:      29
2010:      31
2011:      31
2012:      24
2013:      19
2014:        5

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency provides a free hunter education course that teaches proper gun handling and storage, knowledge of modern firearms and ammunition and other topics. For more information, visit www.tn.gov/twra/article/hunter-education.

The mission of the Tennessee Department of Health is to protect, promote and improve the health and prosperity of people in Tennessee. TDH has facilities in all 95 counties and provides direct services for more than one in five Tennesseans annually as well as indirect services for everyone in the state, including emergency response to health threats, licensure of health professionals, regulation of health care facilities and inspection of food service establishments. Learn more about TDH services and programs at www.tn.gov/health. 

Emailed statement from Safe Tennessee Project
“As an organization focused on reducing firearm injuries and deaths in our state, we are pleased to discover that the 2014 number was actually the lowest number in over a decade,” said Beth Joslin Roth, policy director for The Safe Tennessee Project. However, using media reports and news stories, we tracked at least 13 unintentional firearm deaths in 2015, and, we’ve already tracked at least 12 this year with the majority each year being children, so we know that we must remain committed to encouraging responsible gun ownership and especially responsible gun storage.”

“We can only begin to address gun violence in our state when we are certain we have the most accurate data. I want to thank the Department of Health for correcting these errors and we look forward to working with them to ensure all public health data as it pertains to gun violence is reported as accurately as possible.”