Mike Bloomberg's Super Bowl Gun Control Ad Criticized Over 'Misleading' Child Deaths Claim
By: David Brennan
Mike Bloomberg aired one of the most talked about ads of this year's Super Bowl, one that drew widespread criticism from Conservative media and other organizations which accused the New York billionaire and 2020 presidential hopeful of using misleading gun crime figures to push his message.
Bloomberg's $11 million ad featured Calandrian Simpson Kemp, the bereaved mother of 20-year-old George Kemp Jr. from Texas who was shot dead during an altercation in 2013. In the video, Kemp lauded Bloomberg's past support for new gun regulations and suggested he is the best candidate to take on the pro-gun lobby.
But the ad also included a graphic declaring that "2,900 children die from gun violence every year," a figure that fact checkers quickly criticized as misleading or outright false.
According to FactCheck.org, Bloomberg's campaign team cited figures from the candidate's pro-gun control Everytown for Gun Safety organization. However, in a June 2019 document the group notes that the 2,900 figure refers to "children and teens (ages 0 to 19)." Those aged 18 or 19 would be legally considered adults in most U.S. states.
When restricted to those aged up to 17, the average annual death toll from 2013 to 2017 falls to 1,499, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention figures. Of those, there were 792 homicides, 590 suicides, 88 accidental deaths and 30 of undetermined cause.
Fox News described Bloomberg's message as "misleading." Right-wing website The Daily Wire said the figure was "wildly misleading" and The Washington Examiner branded the ad "fake news."
Among the critical conservative commentators was Ryan Fournier, the 24-year-old founder of Students for Trump.
"Mike Bloomberg does not represent the millions of law abiding gun owners in this country who want to protect themselves, and if the need arises, protect the lives of others," tweeted. "His policies and rhetoric will be destructive and irreversible."
School safety activist Ryan Petty, whose daughter Alaina was killed in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, dismissed the ad. "I lost a child to gun violence, but you will NEVER speak for me or my family because you'll stop at nothing to promote your self-serving agenda," he tweeted.
Andrew Pollack's daughter Meadow also died in the Stoneman Douglas shooting. He criticized Bloomberg for trying to use child gun deaths "to advance your corrupt agenda and to fear-monger and lie on national television."
In the video, Kemp suggested that the National Rifle Association (NRA) was "scared" of Bloomberg's gun regulation push. The organization posted multiple tweets attacking the former New York mayor this weekend, describing him as a "hypocritical billionaire."
"You want to take our guns, go ahead and try," the NRA wrote. "We will fight for our freedom."
Bloomberg's campaign defended its use of the 2,900 figure. Spokesperson Julie Wood told Fox News, "Ask any grieving parent whose 18- or 19-year-old son or daughter was shot and killed, and they will tell you they lost a child."
"There are simply too many of these deaths, and Mike has a plan to prevent them with common-sense gun safety laws."