One of the main objectives of this blog is to be something of a one-man “truth squad” for the gun world. There is probably no other subject in which the ability to throw around opinions that have absolutely no relationship to the facts is so widespread. And this is primarily because of the division in the gun world between the haves and the have-nots; i.e., people who have guns and people who don’t. And not only don’t these two groups know what the other is talking about, but while the haves are extremely passionate about their guns, the have-nots really couldn’t care less. So the passion of the haves often drive them to say things that, shall we say, aren’t completely true (I’m being polite) and the unconcern on the part of the have-nots often results in a lack of interest about the facts as well. I’m going to expand on this issue – the cultural gap between the haves and the have-nots in a lengthy and detailed blog, but for the moment, here’s a brief example.
Last week the Department of Justice released its annual report on gun crime and noted that gun homicides had dropped from 18,000+ in 1993 to 11,000+ in 2011 – a decline of nearly 40%. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2013/05/07/doj-gun-violence-down-semi-automatics-a-minor-issue/.) The report was immediately seized on by the NRA and its right-wing minions (for example, Breitbart:http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Journalism/2013/05/07/Justice-Dept-Report-Destroys-Medias-Gun-Control-Narrative) to show that the liberal “assault” on the 2nd Amendment was misplaced because gun violence was steadily decreasing without additional gun control measures. Even the AP repeated the “gun violence is down” mantra and let one of the NRA’s staunchest supporters, Senator John Thune (R-SD) use the report to take a shot at gun control advocates: “That’s what many of us have argued all along, is that focusing just exclusively on the guns is not the correct approach to this,” he said. http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_GUN_VIOLENCE?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT.
One little problem. What the report actually shows is that gun homicides dropped from 18,000+ in 1993 to 10,500+ in 200 and have since then been steady and actually come back up slightly. So there hasn’t been a steady, two-decade drop in gun homicides, which is how the NRA trumpeted the report on their website; there was a seven-year decline which, by the way, paralleled the first six years of the ban on hi-cap magazines that was part of the 1994 Clinton crime bill. I should add, by the way, that we have never been able to figure out whether there was any connection between homicide rates and gun controls since the NRA was able to get all gun research conducted by the CDC ended in 1996. I’m not saying there is a connection, I’m just saying we can’t find out.
My point is simply this: It’s a real misuse of data to say that there has been a 20-year trend if, in fact, the actual trend stopped thirteen years ago but numbers have not significantly reversed since that time. But it doesn’t matter whether it’s the NRA or one of their friendly bloggers or even the “reliable” Associated Press. When it comes to guns, everyone gets it wrong most of the time.
- What Good News on Gun Violence Means for the Gun Debate (businessweek.com)
- Drop in U.S. gun violence could threaten tighter controls (canada.com)