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The Herald-Dispatch recently published a Letter to the Editor titled “Deter gun violence by stopping bad legislation.” The core claim of the letter is being repeated by gun control advocates throughout the state: Gun violence death is now claiming more lives in West Virginia than traffic accidents.

The claim is completely untrue, of course. The West Virginia Health Statistics Center — the authority on these numbers — says there were 368 traffic fatalities in 2018. The number of homicides committed with a firearm that year was about 80% lower at 68 deaths.

How did letter’s author (and lots of other people) get it so wrong? The author works with Moms Demand Action, a gun control organization almost entirely funded by Michael Bloomberg. The author does what the organization has been doing for years: combines homicides with suicides, then labels the entire category “gun violence.” These are intentional obfuscations of very distinct issues to forward a political agenda.

When you decouple those categories, the data on violence committed with guns in West Virginia is not particularly alarming, especially considering the predictions of the state’s gun control groups. Legal carry without a permit went into effect in mid-2016 amid predictions of chaos and bloodshed by these organizations. Instead, the number of homicides committed with firearms went down from 79 to 69 — about a 13% decrease — and stayed there.

Frantic hand-waving about gun accidents is even more baffling. Accidental gun deaths in West Virginia hover between two and three people annually. In 2015, 2013, and 2010, zero people died from being shot accidentally in the entire state.

When we come across statistics that seem shocking — especially when they being used by an out-of-state billionaire to push local policy — we should automatically be skeptical. No, “gun violence” is not rising, nor is it out of control.

Kendal Parkinson


Work for hospital cost transparency

People often turn to hospitals in a time of need, and no one should have to worry about financial hardship as a result of seeking the care they need at a hospital.

Across the country, consumers are being targeted by hospitals with lawsuits and other predatory actions when hospitals have the option to pursue more consumer-friendly options first. All this comes at a time when Americans are increasingly anxious about the costs of hospital care. According to recent Ipsos-CQC research, 91% of patients are concerned about receiving surprise bills from hospitals and 65% say it’s difficult to understand the cost of care at a hospital, including finding out how much a hospital charges for a specific type of care.

Because hospitals and the groups that represent them have largely failed to adequately address these practices, Consumers for Quality Care (CQC) recently sent a letter to the National Governors Association (NGA) urging governors to take action and protect their constituents.

As patients continue to struggle financially due to these toxic practices, Gov. Jim Justice has an opportunity to stand up for the people of West Virginia by implementing reforms that cut consumer costs and increase transparency in the health care system.

Jim Manley

Consumers for

Quality Care

Seattle, Wash.

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