I used to think that the dumbest pro-gun writer was Emily Miller of The Washington Times, with John Lott running a close second. But I think top honors should now go to the NRA staffer who wrote the organization’s response to the new FBI report on “active shootings,” which covers 160 multiple-shooting incidents that occurred between 2000 and 2013. What the report shows is that the annual number of such shootings has doubled in the last seven years, and the number of victims injured in such shootings has tripled over the same period.
Actually, the NRA response wasn’t directed at the FBI per se, because the last thing the NRA is going to do is challenge the findings of a law-enforcement agency which also is responsible for approving every gun purchased by all federally-licensed gun dealers. Rather, the NRA went after the manner in which The New York Times commented on the report because, after all, you can always rile up NRA members by mentioning The New York Times.
And what did The Times report say? It said what the FBI said, namely, that the number and impact of multiple shootings has increased dramatically over the last seven years. And how did the NRA respond to this information? The writer did what NRA writers usually do when someone, anyone, makes a statement that doesn’t conform to their point of view. The writer simply said things that are not true. I’m not saying the writer lied; I’m saying he’s probably too dumb to know the difference between fact and non-fact. For example.
The NRA response claims that the FBI’s numbers are inflated because “active shootings” involved three or more persons who died from their wounds, whereas the more traditional (and lower) “mass shootings” always involved at least four deaths. But the FBI report specifically stated that the victim count in “active shootings” did not include instances in which the shooter also took his/her own life, which basically accounts for the overall difference in shootings.
The NRA, desperate to show that this report doesn’t contain any bad news for the gun community, also cited a report in USA Today which claimed that between 2006 and 2013 there were 61 mass murders claiming 286 victims in which the perpetrator used a knife, a club or some weapon other than a gun, whereas the FBI claimed that there were only 34 “mass murders” (minimum of four victims, including the shooter) in which the killer used a gun. But the USA Today report defined a mass murder as any criminal event in which four or more persons were killed, even if these killings took place over several days or even weeks at a time. The whole point of the FBI report was to examine episodes during which the events that took place were continuous because the whole point was to determine the correct response that should be made by law enforcement and civilians while the murders were taking place.
In other words, the NRA used a definition of multiple murders that simply can’t be compared to the definition used by the FBI in their new report. And the reason that the NRA deliberately twisted the evidence was to obscure the most important finding of the report, namely, that in 160 multiple shootings, nearly all of which took place in public space, the number of such episodes that ended with an armed civilian using a gun was exactly – one! The idea that good guys stop bad guys with guns is simply not true and the FBI report shows beyond a shadow of a doubt that it’s not true. No wonder the NRA would publish such a dumb response to this report.
But here’s the real problem. The gun control community will discuss this report at length but the discussion will remain largely among themselves. The dishonest statements by the NRA were sent to me and to the other 4-5 million members of the NRA. How do you reach that group with much-needed correctives for what the NRA wants them to believe is the truth? That problem remains to be solved.