Gun rights advocates are jumping at recent polls showing that gun violence has decreased, and the public is unaware of this phenomenon. Rush Limbaugh argues that, “as America arms up, gun violence goes down,” parroting the infamous book by Dr. John Lott, More Guns, Less Crime. Emily Miller argues in the Washington Times that, liberals have been “muzzled” by the news. But, in fact, research shows that those who oppose gun control ask the wrong questions.
Let’s begin with the question of declining violence and the public’s unawareness of this decline (which has been chalked up to the “liberal media”). It should be chalked up to “media.” As Steven Pinker notes in The Better Angels of Our Nature violence has been declining everywhere, and yet few people are aware because, as much as a despise cliché “if it bleeds, it leads.” People drastically overrate the possibility of their children being kidnapped, for example, because of prominent media coverage. They underrate their child’s chance of drowning in a pool. Sadly, since gun violence is still sexy, it will dwarf coverage of other deaths. All violence has declined, but gun violence still amounts to a good portion of it. And being an economist, it represents a sort of violence which is easy to decrease on the margin: something we can easily reduce without significant harm to society because nothing has addressed it as of yet.
But let’s dig deeper, into the assumption of the gun rights advocates. Do more guns mean less crime? Is the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun? As Jon Stewart brilliantly points out, identifying a bad guy is nearly impossible without gun control. Furthermore, much gun violence is committed by “normal guys” in a violent passion.
The NRA takes a page from the Republican leadership — use highly slanted push polls push polls to get the answers you wanted before you came up with the questions.
The National Rifle Association, which thwarted new background check legislation in Congress, recently mailed a “survey” to gun owners with 12 questions related to gun rights, gun laws, and politics. I use scare quotes above because this NRA document (read it here) is a deeply misleading push poll, not an actual survey—and it lies about President Barack Obama’s positions on gun control.
The survey, provided to Mother Jones by a reader, claims that “President Obama has supported a national gun registration system allowing federal government officials to keep track of all your firearm purchases.” This is an all-too-common NRA talking point. NRA honcho Wayne LaPierre echoed it in January, saying that Obama “wants to put every private, personal transaction under the thumb of the federal government, and he wants to keep all those names in a massive federal registry.”
That’s not true.
Federal law has long banned a national gun registry. And the recent gun control bill that died in Congress, which was cosponsored by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Pat Toomey (R-Penn.) and fully supported by Obama, did not create a national gun registry. In fact, the bill expressly prohibited such a registry. Obama emphasized this point repeatedly, and award-winning mainstream media fact-checkers backed him up.
The title pretty much says it all. Wayne LaPierre suggests that the Boston bombings and the subsequent manhunt are a prime example of why more citizens should be armed.
Just a few thoughts:
1) Was there any shortage of ‘good guys with guns’ in Boston at the time? (They’re called Police officers, Wayne).
2) Given the very vague and at times outright wrong descriptions we had of the suspects right until it was just about over (‘dark skinned male’ anyone?), any openly armed civilian during the bombings themselves or the manhunt could well have been shot by police or ended up shooting each other.
3) I’m pretty sure the innocent Saudi who was injured in the bombing and then ‘apprehended’ by fellow bystanders as a suspect is glad the people grabbing him weren’t armed…
Just kidding but it sounds plausible, doesn’t it?
“The NRA was started, 1871, right here in New York state. It was started by some Yankee generals who didn’t like the way my southern boys had the ability to shoot in what we call the ‘War of Northern Aggression.’ Now, y’all might call it the Civil War, but we call it the War of Northern Aggression down south.
He must have taken history from Glen Beck University with Sarah Palin as his instructor!
The man, now identified as Carnell Moore, who had fired a gun inside the ticketing area at Houston’s largest airport and was killed after being confronted by a law enforcement appeared to be contemplating a larger mass killing.
Yesterday Moore walked into Terminal B at Bush International Airport, sat down, produced a pistol and began firing into the ceiling. The shot were heard by a special agent of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). The HSI agent ran toward the gunfire, identified himself as a federal agent, and then ordered Moore to drop the gun. Moore turned toward the agent who fired and hit Moore in the upper body. At the same moment, Moore turned his own gun on himself and fired. Moore was dead at the scene.
Inside a black suitcase next to where Moore was sitting was a black suitcase that contained a Smith & Wesson AR15 assault-style rilfe with a fully loaded magazine.
There are reports that Moore left a number of chilling posts on Facebook the day before. But a note he was carrying that was discovered after he was shot, said he’d opted to drop a larger plot and kill himself, KHOU reports; the note cited a “monster within.”
As much as most of us hate airport security, luckily a fast acting government employee averted what could possibly have been a very deadly situation.
Cue the NRA apologists.
A Florida woman was accidentally shot in the jaw while riding in a sport utility vehicle late Sunday. She was part of a group of gun enthusiasts on their way to a shooting range when a firearm accidentally discharged, hitting the woman, said Florida Highway Patrol (FHP).
The FHP said that the incident took place near Northwest 12th Avenue in Miami on the Dolphin Expressway. No charges were filed and the woman is expected to recover. Her name has not yet been released.
Always remember: “Guns don’t shoot people…..until they do”.
The great-grandson of the Anheuser-Busch company renounced his membership in the National Rifle Association on Thursday, furious that the NRA helped defeat the Senate bill which would have expanded background checks in response to the tragedy in Newtown.
Adolphus Busch IV, in a letter to NRA president David Keene obtained by a St. Louis television station, wrote that “I fail to see how the NRA can disregard the overwhelming will of its members who see background checks as reasonable.”
He said that the NRA seems to have become a lobby for gun and ammunition manufacturers, rather than one for hunters and gun owners.
“One only has to ask why the NRA reversed its original position on background checks. Was it not the NRA position to support background checks when Mr. (Wayne) LaPierre himself stated in 1999 that NRA saw checks as ‘reasonable’?”
He continued: “I am simply unable to comprehend how assault weapons and large capacity magazines have a role in your vision,” he said. “The NRA I see today has undermined the values upon which it was established. Your current strategic focus clearly places priority on the needs of gun and ammunition manufacturers while disregarding the opinions of your 4 million individual members.”
As the Senate prepares to take up a comprehensive gun violence prevention plan later this month, gun advocates have amped up their already inflammatory rhetoric against any additional gun regulations. Ahead of President Obama’s visit to Colorado on Wednesday to promote the measure, one local gun organization promised to give him and other Democrats a hostile welcome.
In an interview with NPR, former NRA lobbyist and founder of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners Dudley Brown compared deer hunting season with election season, when gun owners would be free to “hunt Democrats”:
Brown complains universal background checks are just a step towards identifying gun owners so the government can seize their weapons, and he calls the 15-bullet limit on ammunition clips arbitrary. He’s promising political payback in next year’s election that could cost Colorado Democrats their majorities.
“I liken it to the proverbial hunting season,” Brown says. “We tell gun owners, there’s a time to hunt deer. And the next election is the time to hunt Democrats.”
Well, the NRA has managed to come up with its “Guns For Everybody School Safety Plan” and it contains pretty much what you’d expect it to contain, including whole new markets and increased profits for the guns-and-ammo manufacturers that represent the NRA’s primary constituency. As you might also expect of any event that springs from the dark mire that is the mind of Wayne LaPierre, the unveiling was sufficiently weird that even Mother Times took note.
The recommendation, among 225 pages of proposals to improve school security, was the culmination of three months of work by a task force led by Asa Hutchinson, a former Republican congressman from Arkansas, who unveiled the plan before a packed news conference with an unusually heavy security presence, including a bomb-sniffing yellow Labrador retriever. A dozen officers in both plain clothes and uniforms stood watch as Mr. Hutchinson spoke; before the event began, one of them warned several photographers to “remain stationary” until it was over.
WTF? I mean, seriously, WTFingF is this? Of what are these people possibly afraid? Michael Bloomberg in a Semtex suit? The insanity really was a lot more appealing when they were talking about jackbooted thugs.