Podcast: Gun Violence Archive’s Mark Bryant on His Role in the CDC Gun Defense Drama

Last week, we broke news of the CDC removing gun defense use estimates and a review paper it commissioned from its website after meeting privately with a group of advocates.

This week, we have one of those advocates on the show. Mark Bryant, executive director of the Gun Violence Archive, was involved in the private meeting with CDC officials. He attacked Florida State University criminologist Gary Kleck’s estimate of 2.5 million defensive gun uses per year as misleading. And he said it was preventing new gun restrictions from making progress.

The CDC initially rebuffed the request from Bryant, GVPedia’s Devin Hughes, and Newtown Action Alliance’s Po Murray. However, they eventually changed course and deleted the defensive use estimates from their website without getting input from other points of view or making a public announcement of the edit.

Mark joins the show to explain and defend his role in the conversation, which he says he was added to late in the process. He argued his only concern in the conversation was with the accuracy of the data.

Things got a bit heated when I challenged him on a number of points and vice versa. However, it stayed civil overall, and I think the conversation was fruitful and exciting. Beyond the politics of the situation, we also discussed the controversy over how best to measure defensive gun uses as well as things like mass shootings.

Plus, Contributing Writer Jake Fogleman and I give updates on New Jersey’s gun-carry restrictions and California’s fee-shifting law.

You can listen to the show on your favorite podcasting app or by clicking here. Video of the show is also available on our YouTube channel. Reload Members can listen to this week’s episode on Thursday. It will go public on Friday.

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Created by potrace 1.16, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2019


Created by potrace 1.16, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2019

Comments From Reload Members

12 Responses

  1. Not a great episode and a huge missed opportunity. Mark Bryant and other gun-control lobbyists got CDC to censor and delete research it had previously published. Stephen chatted with him affably about individual data points.

    These lobbyists pushed CDC over this because DGUs make their lobbying harder and their policy preferences less compelling.

    Stephen takes Bryant’s good faith for granted. Given the censorship Bryant and the others engaged, that assumption is entirely unwarranted.

    Sorry Stephen, you got rolled here. You had a fantastic scoop about politicizing CDC and you let a principal off the hook. “A civil exchange” is *not* the highest, best calling for a journalist confronting shadowy censors like these thugs.

    1. Thank you for the feedback, Ross. I challenged him on how he advocated for this change in private, the association with Po Murray, and his points about DGUs. Is there a particular question you think I should have asked that I missed out on? Or was it more the general approach to the conversation that you thought was a miss?

      1. The news is CDC scrubbed its public website of published research on DGUs. Bryant was among the advocates who attended that meeting, just like Po Murray and the other lobbyists in the conversation. They have turned from cherry-picking data from the Archive to memory-holing published research because it is inconvenient politically.

        Ultimately, the scandal — and it absolutely is one — is that public-health workers at the CDC caved to advocates to censor data, research and statistics because it was politically inconvenient. It further politicized CDC and public health to benefit Democratic Party constituents.

        In the podcast, Bryant drove your conversation to his split-hairs nonsense about not being responsible for his data conventions. He and his fellow prohibitionists at NAA, Everytown and Brady attacked science and attacked public health during this sorry episode.

        It bears saying: *You and Kostas did the world a huge service uncovering their slimy backroom deal.*

        But it is also a shame to have missed an opportunity to have a more adversarial and emphatic discussion with Bryant. His pedantic hair splitting kept you from getting to the bigger issue: CDC deleted reviewed, published research from its website because it disagreed with their political masters’ policy preferences. He was party of that anti-science brigade.

        1. I definitely agree with your assessment of what the main story is about. Thank you for the input on how you think I could’ve done a better job with the interview.

          1. Thanks for breaking that story, Stephen. You guys really achieved an incredible public service this week. I am a grateful subscriber deeply angry at the prohibition lobbyists’ censorship.

      2. WRT (“a miss”) I think challenging his statement that mass shootings (4 or more shot) make “gun owners look bad” is an area you could’ve pushed back on. The vast majority of mass shooting aren’t by “gun owners”, but by people who possess guns illegally. The people pushing for more gun laws seem to miss this distinction.

  2. Stephen, do you think Bryant and others involved in this private push to get CDC to remove DGU info from the CDC website put too much emphasis on the importance of Kleck’s DGU research as the impediment to their gun control designs.

    It seems to me there is plenty of resistance to more gun control just from a purely Second Amendment perspective irrespective of the debate over how many times people use guns in self-defense.

    1. That’s a good question. I think they definitely focus far too much on Kleck’s particular estimate, probably because it’s the most well-known. A wealth of other surveys from over the years have found similarly-high rates of DGUs. One thing Kleck and Bryant seem to agree on is the general impact of the understanding that DGUs are common, which is that it makes Americans more reluctant to institute new gun restrictions. I tend to agree with that assessment.

      Certainly, the legal side of the equation matters a great deal as well. That gun rights are protected in the Constitution is extremely significant. But that could be overcome by either ignoring the Second Amendment (as was largely the case for the 20th Century) or repealing it if public sentiment ever turned hard enough against gun ownership.

  3. An amazing interview with Mark Bryant on the CDC assessment of the statistics on DSUs. While I do not agree with his conclusions, I respect your interview with him on how he interprets the data. I kept thinking about Mark Walter’s defensive use of his Glock where he did not actually have to fire a shot because the those creating a threat decided to go find an easier potential victims. He never reported the threat to the police which makes me question that a DGU occurred without any report to law enforcement. If what happened to Mark Walter’s happened to me, I doubt I would have contacted LE, but I admit I do not know if I would made the same decision. My point is we will never know how many other similar incidents occurred without any report to LE or the media.

    1. Yes, exactly. That’s the weakness in trying to count all reported cases. It’s clear you’re going to miss quite a lot of them. Probably the vast majority given Professor William English’s recent study. So, while surveys have their own weaknesses and vulnerabilities, I’m not sure there’s a better way to get closer to the full number.

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