In a Time of Universal Deceit, Telling the Truth is Revolutionary.
Sunday, June 23, 2024

Does constipation kill more people than guns? No. That claim is pure B.S.

Just another damn lie circulating in the bastion of fake news called social media and right-wing extremism.
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Semi-automatic rifles are displayed at Coastal Trading and Pawn in Auburn, Maine.
(AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

CLAIM: Rifles killed 297 people in the U.S. in 2022, while constipation killed 2,167.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. This statistic uses FBI data from 2018 for the first figure and cumulative Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data from a period of 15 years for the second. Neither agency has released data for 2022 on the number of people killed in the U.S. by either cause, but 2020 figures show at least 455 were murdered by rifle that year while deaths due to constipation were less than half of that.

THE FACTS: A popular Instagram post in recent days has revived erroneous claims about causes of death in the U.S., misrepresenting data from the FBI and the CDC.

“Rifles of any kind were involved in 297 deaths last year, in America,” it states. “Constipation killed 2,167.” The post had received more than 1,600 likes as of Monday.

But the data it uses does not represent deaths in 2022, nor is it an accurate comparison for any year. Instead, the first number is from 2018, while the second encompasses a 15-year period.

According to the FBI’s 2018 Crime in the United States report, 297 people were murdered with rifles that year. The latest available figures in the FBI’s Crime Data Explorer puts that number at 447 in 2021, and 455 in 2020.Further, the FBI data separately lists thousands of additional murders for both of those years involving guns that have not been classified by type and it is possible some of these involved rifles.

The FBI data is also limited because it doesn’t include numbers from every law enforcement agency in the country. Participation in the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting program, which provides data on murders by weapon, is voluntary.

Figures from the CDC show that a total of 2,167 people were killed by constipation from 1999 through 2014. The condition killed only 207 in 2020, the last year for which data is available, and 198 in 2018.

False claims comparing the number of deaths from rifles to deaths from other causes, such as COVID-19 vaccines, have previously spread online.

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This is part of AP’s effort to address widely shared misinformation, including work with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.