United States Surgeon General Vivek Murthy declared that “gun violence” constitutes a public health crisis Tuesday but cited fake mass-shooting data from the long-debunked Gun Violence Archive to support his spurious claims.

Murthy presented his finding in a 40-page Surgeon General advisory, titled “Firearm Violence: A Public Health Crisis in America.”

“While mass shooting deaths represent only about 1% of all firearm‑related deaths in the U.S., the number of mass shooting incidents is increasing. According to data published by Gun Violence Archive, the U.S. experienced more than 600 mass shooting incidents each year between 2020 and 2023, compared to an average of less than 400 annual mass shooting incidents between 2015 and 2018,” the Surgeon General’s advisory states.

In his report, Murthy cites data from the Gun Violence Archive more than four times.

Founded in 2013, the GVA quickly became the administration’s source of choice for mass-shooting data because they hype the numbers. The small nonprofit came up with its own extremely broad definition of a mass shooting, which says anytime four or more people are killed or even slightly wounded with a firearm regardless of the circumstances, it’s a mass shooting. For example, according to the GVA there were 417 mass shootings in 2019. The FBI says there were 30, because it uses a much narrower and more realistic definition, which excludes gang-related and drug-related shootings, which the GVA includes in its data.

Murthy is not the only member of the Biden-Harris administration to use fake data from the GVA. Biden and his handlers have cited GVA’s mass-shooting data throughout his presidency in speeches, written statements and social media.

In an editorial published May 14, 2023, by USA TODAY and reprinted in scores of newspapers across the country, titled, “President Biden: I’m doing everything I can to reduce gun violence, but Congress must do more,” Biden stressed the need for more Red flag laws, advocated for universal background checks and called on Congress to ban “assault weapons” and standard-capacity magazines, stating: “For God’s sake, do something.”

But then there was this: “We need to do more. In the year after the Buffalo tragedy, our country has experienced more than 650 mass shootings and well over 40,000 deaths due to gun violence, according to one analysis.”

The hyperlink whisked readers to the Gun Violence Archive.

When Biden’s staff announced the creation of the White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention last May, they cited GVA data that claimed there had been 500 mass shooting in the country and 118 firearm-related deaths per day, which Biden said was “far too high.”

In a statement released in February after the post-Superbowl shooting, Biden again cited GVA’s mass shooting data, claiming, “We’ve now had more mass shootings in 2024 than there have been days in the year.”

In a previous interview with the Second Amendment Foundation, Mark Bryant, the GVA’s executive director, took no responsibility for the misuse of his flawed data. When asked if he believed the average news consumer even considers domestic violence or gang warfare when they hear the term mass shooting, Bryant said, “I don’t know. I know what we want to do is provide numbers and let the journalists, advocates and ‘congress critters’ look at the data, glean details and drill down on it.”

Bryant has claimed that he is “anti-violence” and not anti-gun, but has publicly lobbied for stricter gun control, including standard-capacity magazine bans.

“I think magazine capacity is an issue that should be addressed,” Bryant said in a previous interview. “You don’t need 30-round mags or a 60-round drum. While they are great ‘get off’ tools, they’re part of a hobby, not part of the Second Amendment.”

Other inaccuracies

Using fake GVA data is not the only error in Murthy’s report.

“Since 2020, firearm‑related injury has been the leading cause of death for U.S. children and adolescents (ages 1–19), surpassing motor vehicle crashes, cancer, and drug overdose and poisoning,” the report states.

This claim has also been debunked and proven to be nothing more than a frequently cited White House talking point. The numbers only work if you define everyone under 20 years old as children, and for 17-year-olds and younger, the leading cause of death is suffocation.

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