Have you ever heard of the VPC?

The Violence Policy Center was formed in 1988 by individuals from a group of long-time, prominent anti-gun activists.

Based out of Washington, D.C., and operating as a "think tank" that researches gun issues and lobbies Congress, the stated purpose of this organization is to end private firearms ownership in the United States.

They think you don't need a gun, and that the police will protect you.

Back in the mid-'90s, during the time of the Great Satan (as a gun owner, you remember Bill Clinton, right?), the VPC produced an infomercial that ran on late night TV.

I caught it one night, and was stunned. I don't remember a lot of the commercial, but one statement burned itself into my mind:

"Ten children a day die from gun violence in the United States."

I absolutely cringed when I heard that. I knew it wasn't true, but I also knew the sound bite would be picked up by the national media and it would become rote knowledge — urban legend — massaged facts.

I had no idea how much I missed the mark on that call.

Ann Landers and Dear Abby, the twins against guns, picked up the statement and started running it in their thousands of columns across the U.S. Before you could say "misinformation," the figure was accepted knowledge, as if it had been inscribed in the King James version of the Holy Bible.

It's simply not true.

A look at the math will throw the whole statement into doubt: If 10 children a day die from gun violence in the U.S., that's 3,650 kids every year.

If 3,650 kids died from gun violence every year, we would all know lots of people who had lost kids to guns. Exponentially, the numbers would grow into horrifying totals that would surpass death totals from the worst wars this nation has survived.

Obviously, the statement is untrue. Or rather, as with most statistics, they have been "massaged" to make them come out the way the VPC wants them.

But we have at our fingertips yet another of those massive government studies — the National Vital Statistics Report, Vol. 58, No. 19, May 20, 2010.

The government collects statistics on everything you can imagine, and in this case we have the figures from 2007. I believe the figures for 2009 have now been published, but this was the latest information I had at the time of writing this column, so we will use these figures.

Let's not consider anything else in this massive report, except Table 10 that covers the number of 2007 deaths in the United States from 113 selected causes by age.

According to this study, accidental discharge of firearms accounted for a total of 65 deaths of children 14 years of age and under in 2007.

That's in the entire United States, with an approximate population of 3 million.

Accidental drowning and submersions accounted for 739 deaths of children 14 years of age and under in 2007.

There were a total of 53 suicides by firearms in the child population (14 years of age and under) in the U.S. in 2007.

Finally, the total number of children murdered (homicides) with firearms in the U.S. in 2007 was 264. That's children 14 years of age, and under.

When you add all accidental shootings, suicides by gun and homicides, the total number of children lost to gun violence in the U.S. in 2007 was 382.

That's a far cry less than the numbers lost in accidental drownings — statistically, a swimming pool is a far greater danger to the life of a child than a gun in the home.

Hey... it's your government that compiled these statistics.

Read them and understand what the Violence Policy Center is trying to do by making such low statistics (in a nation of 300 million people) into a national scourge — through use of a sound bite that is a patent lie.

In other words, the VPC inflated the actual death rates from 382 to 3,650 — an increase of more than 90 percent.

So, you ask in outrage, how do they do that? How do they get away with making such brazen, outlandish lies and not be taken to task for them?

How, you ask, can even the notoriously anti-gun national media take such blatant lies and promote them until everyone accepts their figures as rote and fact?

In fact, the VPC is not lying to you, me, or the media.

Remember that statement earlier about massaged statistics?

Consider the age groups.

The federal government, along with reporting agencies such as the National Safety Council and the National Center for Health Statistics, considers a child as being 14 years of age and under.

The Violence Policy Center compiled their figures from the same database — except they count everyone as a child under the age of 21.

And when you review the statistics, you note that after the age of 16, the death totals begin taking quantum leaps due to youth, gang and street violence.

And remember, it is not the problem it is played up to be — always accept statistical compilations with a jaundiced eye until you can review the parameters under which they were gathered.

The death of any child, by any means, is a horrific thing to consider — but the death of children by firearms in the U.S. is a manufactured scourge — a sound bite that took on a life of its own, and is repeated to this day by pontificating talking heads in the media and ivy-covered halls when they really don't know what they are talking about.

While the death of any child is a tragedy, the scare tactics of kids and guns is a manufactured epidemic designed to horrify — and mobilize — anti-gun emotions in frightened parents unaware of the real facts.

Not that we are making light of teaching gun safety to kids: It is an important part of growing up. They should be cautiously aware of the dangers of guns, running into the streets without looking and leaving swimming pool gates unlocked — carelessness invites tragedy.

I urge you to get a free copy of the NRA's Eddie Eagle Gun Safety Program for kids by simply logging onto www.nra.org and searching "Eddie Eagle."

The NRA will send one copy of this award-winning cartoon and coloring book program to you — and you will be amazed at how well kids respond to it.

By simple sing-song rhyme and rhythm, Eddie Eagle promotes one message:

"If you find a gun, stop. Don't touch. Leave the area. Tell an adult!"

Get the program and teach your kids gun safety.

Don't do foolish and careless things like leaving loaded guns where curious little minds and hands can get them.

Practice reasonable safety precautions, and give your kids the gift of a sport (shooting) that will improve and enrich their minds and lifestyles for the rest of their lives.

They will then teach their children, and our sport will be furthered and enjoyed the way it should be for generations into the future.