Washington Post: More Cops Killed by Their Own Gun Than “Straw Purchases”

And there I was thinking that the Washington Post had finished their investigation into “crime guns.” Previously, on Who Doesn’t Have the Balls to Release Their Gun Dealer Data, the paper named and attempted to shame a handful of D.C.-area gun dealers for selling guns used in crimes, and beat the metaphorical crap out of one (Realco). This time round we get the statistical 411 on 511 police officers murdered by gunfire from “the beginning of 2000″ through this Sept. 30, 2010. Pardon me for projecting, but don’t I think the results were exactly what the WaPo was expecting . . .

Legal purchase was the leading source of weapons used to kill police officers. In 107 slayings, the killers acquired their firearms legally. In 170 deaths, The Post could not determine how the shooters got their guns, including 29 killings in which weapons were not recovered.

Stolen guns turned up in 77 deaths. Separately, guns obtained or taken from relatives or friends who legally owned them were used in 46 killings. Fifty-one officers were killed when their department-issued firearms or another officer’s gun were turned against them. In 41 instances, guns were illegally obtained on the streets through sale or barter.

Sixteen times, someone bought a weapon for a person prohibited from having a gun, an unlawful transaction known as a straw purchase. The straw buyers were federally prosecuted in fewer than half of those cases. Three were illegally purchased at gun shows or from private sellers.

After throwing down these numbers, WaPo scribe Cheryl W. Thompson proceeds to data dump demographic profiles and stats on the time, place, and type of weapons used to kill cops. From there it’s straight to gun control agit-prop from the po-po and all the usual suspects (e.g. The Violence Policy Center, the Mayors Against Illegal Guns).

But the headline highlights the money shot: Guns used to kill police officers: Where they come from and how they get in the hands of criminals. So let’s stop and think about this new information . . .

While the WaPo trumpets the fact that “legal purchase was the leading source of weapons,” the actual stat cited is roughly 20 percent of the total. In fact, the leading source of guns used to kill police is “unknown,” at 35 percent.

Unless we put untraced guns into the box marked “legal purchase,” a completely dubious statistical slight of hand, illegally obtained guns must account for over half of cop killing cases. Mustn’t they?

The Post states that stolen guns were used in “only” 77 police murder. So . . . 107 legal guns, 77 illegal guns, 170 unaccounted for (a big ass hole in the data), and 51 police-issued weapons. I make that 405 guns.

One possible explanation for the “missing” guns: multiple cops killed by the same gun (in 95 cases). Which guns might those be? Legal or illegal or police-issued or unknown? Where they counted twice?

Percentage-wise, I’ve got 35 percent (untraced), 20 percent (legal), 15 percent (illegal) and 10 percent (police-issue). We’re down roughly 20 percent.

I know, let’s look at the raw data! Surely the WaPo provided the actual stats. I mean, it’s only 511 data points and it’s all public information . . .

I’ll call the WaPo monday for the info. Meanwhile, I’m astounded by the number of police killed by their own guns. Well, not in absolute terms. In fact, it’s pretty amazing that there’ve only been 511 police shot in the line of duty in the last ten years. In the year 2000 alone, the FBI tallied 15,517 murders.

In any case, as our headline points out, more cops are killed by their own weapons (51) than weapons obtained by so-called “straw purchase.” Just sixteen citizens bought cop-killing firearms for a felonious friend. Sixteen out of 511. That’s a hair over three percent.

Let’s extrapolate the cop-killing data to gun-related fatalities in the general population in the most statistically crude and gun control-favorable way, say, by multiplying the straw purchase stat by ten.

Even at 30 percent, “straw purchases” don’t seem worth the time, money and effort needed to chase them. Should we really be giving The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives $1.4 billion dollars every year to go after these straw men (and women)?

By the same token, just three people bought their murder weapons at a gun show illegally. OR from private sellers. So . . . less than three. Let’s be charitable and call it two gun show guns. That’s two firearms out of 511, or less than one half of one percent. Let’s be charitable (to gun control groups) and call it one percent.

Again, let’s extrapolate the cop-killing data to gun-related fatalities in the general population in the most statistically crude and gun control-favorable way; again, by multiplying the stat by ten. Even at 10 percent, you can round to zero the importance of gun shows to murders.

In general, states with looser gun laws had higher rates of fatal shootings of police officers, overall handgun killings, and sales of weapons that were used in crimes in other states, according to a 2008 study underwritten by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a coalition of 300 mayors led by New York’s Michael R. Bloomberg. That study looked at police shootings in the aggregate but did not trace the origin of the guns.

What was that about lies, damned lies and statistics? Even a Beltway journalist must know that correlation does not equal causation—especially when the person making the connection fails to provide relevant data or theoretical justification. But wait! There’s more!

“We are finding here cases in which felons have been able to acquire guns even though they shouldn’t, but we are also finding cases in which people who have criminal [misdemeanor] records but remain eligible to buy guns do buy those guns and then kill cops with them,” [Garen Wintemute, a professor of emergency medicine and director of the Violence Prevention Research Program at the University of California at Davis] said. “Any effort to find a pattern in these tragedies is helpful, because patterns often lead to solutions.”

How many cases? What are the control and independent variables? How can a supposedly reputable paper like the Washington Post undertake a year-long investigation into guns used in crimes, uncover hard data on the source of guns used to kill cops, and then publish blatantly misleading propaganda from the MAIG and a pro gun control academic?

By page three, the Post has abandoned all pretense of proper journalism. The story devolves into the usual highly-emotional recounting of tragic death, with each case listed under the appropriate sub-head: legally obtained, straw purchase, etc. No analysis. No conclusion. Just death and destruction.

The only proper conclusion here: to curtail gun-related murder in the United States, society must focus on the felons, not the firearms. Especially not the people who purchase firearms legally. They are not the problem.

Law-abiding citizens—including the one who take crime seriously enough to buy a gun—are the solution. Their tax money pays the police to tackle violent crime. Put another way, there is no legislative solution to gun crime. It’s an enforcement issue. We should honor and respect the police who sacrifice their lives to defend the law by facing the truth about guns.