I want to congratulate Alex Yablon and The Trace for getting to the virtual apex of gun journalism which can be defined as any commentary or article that receives a full-length response from the NSSF. As you know, the NSSF represents the gun industry the same way the NRA represents gun owners; i.e., what’s good for guns is good for America, and in this particular instance, the NSSF felt it necessary to correct all kinds of errors and misstatements about the number of women who are buying guns.
The NSSF’s editorial opens with their half-baked crap about how The Trace is owned by Bloomberg, so of course nothing can be true. Right away this tells us that we’re dealing not with journalism that has the slightest pretense towards objectivity, but just indulges in whatever smear campaign happens to fill the bill. The commentary then goes on to score Yablon for relying on data from the General Social Survey (GSS) which has to be wrong because, after all, it is based on “methodological limitations” that seriously undercount gun ownership throughout the United States.
What are these ‘methodological limitations’ that render the GSS a useless source for understanding anything about guns? It’s the same ‘limitation’ that pro-gun noisemakers like Gary Kleck and John Lott have been using for more than twenty years to discount serious gun research, namely, the canard that Americans won’t disclose ownership of guns to anyone who might then leak such information back to the Feds. Of course neither of these phony intellectuals has ever actually asked anyone whether they are reluctant to disclose information to a government agency or to anyone else. But when you earn a living appealing to an audience that’s pre-disposed to be suspicious of government anyway, it’s not hard to convince such folks that a government or quasi-government survey isn’t worth salt.
The problem with this argument, of course, is that it flies in the face of reality. If anything, gun ownership in the current climate has become a badge of good citizenship, patriotism, and any other cultural symbol that, if embraced by everyone, would make America great again. It’s pretty hard on the one hand to celebrate the spread of unquestioned CCW to almost every state while, on the other hand, continuing to claim that Americans are afraid to disclose legal ownership of guns.
But has the pro-gun noise machine ever been concerned with aligning its arguments with facts? And this is the ‘problem,’ if you will, with Alex Yablon’s attempt to figure out whether or not women really represent a new market for guns, because as a serious journalist writing for a serious journalistic enterprise, he is required to look at the facts. Which means that since the FBI doesn’t publish data on the gender breakdown of NICS-background checks, everyone who wants to research whether there are more women into shooting has to rely, to a certain extent, on data that simply cannot be exact.
Want a quick lesson in how to take hot air and turn it into ‘facts?’ Take a look at the 2014 NSSF survey on women and shooting which the organization claims contains “well-explained” findings about all those gals who now own guns. In fact, its so-called findings are based primarily on interviews with women who attended the SHOT show, which happens to be an industry-only exhibition, which means that most of the women interviewed for this report were either gun shop owners, employees, or spouses-partners of men who work in the gun trade. Now that’s a real objective survey, right?
This past Saturday I stopped in at four gun shops because I was in the mood to buy a gun. Together these four shops had 10-11 customers other than me. How many were women? As many as the number of guns I ended buying – none. But that’s because nobody had a German-made PPK in the counter or a 20-guage Ruger Red Label on the wall. I’ll match my ‘scientific’ survey against the NSSF any time.