I love the fact that Bloomberg News relies on data from Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety and the Brady Campaign. They take the art of cherry-picked data to a whole new level, especially considering how many times Everytown for Gun Safety has been slammed by fact-checkers.
The whole idea of being persuasive in a debate is that the conclusions one presents are capable of surviving a challenge from sources that don’t agree with you.
Above is a map of the U.S. showing the relative homicide rates for the states. You will note that some of the states that the Bloomberg Bunch likes, such as Illinois and Maryland, have very high homicide rates. The District of Columbia, where there are so many restrictions that federal courts have ruled some of them unconstitutional, has the highest homicide rate in America. Yes, most of the red states don’t have many restrictions but that’s not the point. The point is, that when it comes to actual violence, gun laws don’t seem to make a difference. Four of the blue states, Maine, New Hampshire, North Dakota and Vermont, don’t even require a permit to carry a concealed handgun. The same is true of the green states Arizona, Idaho, Kansas, Montana and Wyoming. According to the FBI, Arizona actually has a slightly lower murder rate than California.
I did leave out suicides. In the first place, the specter of “gun violence” is only threatening if it is something that someone else might do to you. In the second place, there are so many nuances to suicide that a simplistic approach completely masks the real problem. For example, while white men still commit the majority of suicides, the rate of suicides by women is rising at more than twice the rate of suicides by men. Yet women prefer poisoning, usually by deliberate overdoses of prescription medicines. Firearms are a second, or even third, choice for most age groups and suffocation, usually by hanging, is a close third. Hanging is the preferred method among younger women. So approaching suicide as something that can be addressed by simple, and simple-minded, gun legislation is not only callous but stupid.
It is my opinion that Bloomberg, Brady and Giffords include suicide not because they think they have any answers but solely because it bulks up the numbers. The “red flag” laws they are so excited about are just as likely to cause a person considering suicide to avoid seeking help and might even aggravate existing feelings of isolation and persecution. This would make a successful intervention more difficult. Furthermore, although they haven’t yet been challenged, some of the red flag laws that have been enacted might be unconstitutional as they violate the Fifth Amendment requirement for due process.
Fatalities caused by accidental gunshots totaled 495 in 2016 so it doesn’t add nearly enough scare to the cause. As for the terrible toll among children, there were 61 accidental gun deaths among children 1 to 12 in the U.S. in 2016. In addition, progress in reducing the number of childhood deaths from accidental gunshots is already being made. In the 25 years from 1990 to 2016, the rate has dropped 75%.
Although Bloomie & Co. never mention it, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (the gun industry’s real trade and lobbying group) has been running its Project ChildSafe for several years. It provides information on safe firearm storage and free gun locks on request from most U.S. law enforcement agencies. So far, the program has distributed more than 37 million of these kits. It has even been awarded a multi-million-dollar grant from the Department of Justice during the Obama administration to expand the program. Not surprisingly, gun control advocates were outraged that Project ChildSafe received the grant. Two groups even began petitions demanding that the grant be rescinded. Funny thing is, none of the gun-control groups offer anything like Project ChildSafe.
As for the demand for more research, that’s a matter of Congress funding it. The Dickey Amendment never prohibited research: it prohibited funding advocacy research where the data was deliberately selected to achieve a pre-determined conclusion. This applies to both anti-gun and pro-gun research.
The CDC and the Rand Corporation did studies of the effectiveness of current gun laws and their findings we inconclusive. A study of expanded background checks in Colorado and Washington state concluded that the laws had no discernible effect. None of these studies said the laws were no good, but they didn’t say they made a positive change, either.
Bloomberg, Giffords, the Brady Bunch and the rest have been given a bully pulpit by most of the media. To say that they have abused it is a gross understatement.