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Posted at 11:00 AM ET, 02/16/2011

PolitiFact runs the numbers on 'DOONESBURY's' post-9/11 gun stats

By Michael Cavna

doonegun.jpg (click here to see entire "Doonesbury" strip)

In this past Sunday's "DOONESBURY," Garry Trudeau's radio host Mark Slackmeyer compared "two sets of facts" involving Americans and fatal violence.

In the strip's sixth panel, "Microphone Mark" Slackmeyer -- the longtime NPR talker -- tells his listeners that in the past nine years, "270,000 Americans were killed by gunfire at home" as opposed to deaths abroad.

The folks at the St. Petersburg Times's nonpartisan say a reader asked them to run the numbers and check Trudeau's math. The verdict:

"We found that Trudeau was basically right. We went to the same CDC database he used -- the Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (or WISQARS for short) -- and got virtually identical numbers. Our number came out slightly higher -- 281,757 -- because we not only extrapolated out through the end of 2010 in our calculations but also included the final three months of 2001."

PolitiFact contacted Trudeau about his methodology. The Pulitzer-winning creator replied: "The final figure lacks precision, because it's extrapolated" -- noting that the most recent data for gun deaths from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is from 2007.

"What I had were six years -- 2002-2007 -- of a remarkably stable number, around 30,000" gun deaths per year, Trudeau tells PolitiFact. "So in my judgment, multiplying 30,000 times nine yielded a figure reasonable and accurate enough for rhetorical purposes without using hyperbole. If anything, it may be slightly on the low side."

For the fuller report from PolitiFact's Truth-O-Meter, you can check out this.

By Michael Cavna  | February 16, 2011; 11:00 AM ET
Categories:  The Comic Strip  | Tags:  Doonesbury, Garry Trudeau, PolitiFact  
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