Tennessee Department of Health corrects data error, state not leading nation in fatal accidental shootings


NASHVILLE (WATE) – Last week the Safe Tennessee Project released a report stating that Tennessee leads the nation in fatal accidental shootings, however the Tennessee Department of Health said the data used in the study was not correct.

The Safe Tennessee Project reported that Tennessee had 105 fatal accidental shootings, but the state department of health says that number was actually five. They said incorrect data indicated the number of accidental gunshot deaths had dramatically escalated from 19 in 2013 to 105 in 2014.

Data used in the report was taken from the Center for the Disease Control’s national database, which is uploaded directly from state health departments. The Safe Tennessee Project also said they verified the numbers with the Tennessee Department of Health before publishing the report.

Previous story: Safe Tennessee Project: State leads nation in fatal accidental shootings

“We regret any confusion that may have arisen when data errors affected the number of deaths attributed to the accidental discharge of firearms in our state,” said TDH Deputy Commissioner for Population Health Michael Warren, MD, MPH. “Even one accidental death is too many, and all firearm owners need to have a heightened sense of awareness about protecting themselves and others from the harm a loaded weapon may cause. We strongly encourage all firearm owners to take the proper training necessary to reduce the risk of accidents.”


The Tennessee Department of Health said they manually reviewed death certificates and only found five people who died from accidental gunshot wounds in the state in 2014. In an additional eight cases, the manner of death was left blank or marked as pending on the death certificate, but no follow-up death certificate was sent to the department, however the health department said a review of the autopsies for those cases indicated none of those eight were accidental deaths.

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