CNN’s “Plan B” Gun Control Piece: Lies, Misinformation and Newspeak


David Frum wrote an article published by CNN on how – gasp! – President Obama might not have the votes needed to pass the kind of gun control reforms that he wants. To hear Frum tell it, it sounds like the evil Congress is blocking the Chosen One’s policies that would otherwise bring peace and tranquility to the world. Anyway, Frum has been taken to task again and again by our own Bruce Krafft for publishing lies and misinformation as facts in support of his civilian disarmament beliefs, but I wanted to take a stab at this one myself . . .

David starts with a plaintive whine about Obama’s apparent inability to push gun control legislation over the goal line:

The president himself recognizes that the votes probably aren’t there to pass any significant gun legislation through Congress. In his State of the Union address, he was reduced to pleading with Congress to allow a vote at all, never mind actually enact anything.

That’s kinda the whole point of Congress. The President was never intended to enact laws all by his lonesome, and the founding fathers had the foresight to put a check in place that allows the people to elect representatives that will promote their beliefs. So if Obama can’t pass legislation, that simply means that the system is working as designed and we aren’t operating under a dictator.

So what does David propose to fix this “problem?” Apparently some propaganda is in order, funded by the U.S. government under the auspices of the Surgeon General. Specifically, he wants the SG to do a study on the “health risks” of firearms in the United States.

The basis of the whole gun debate in the United States is the belief by millions of Americans that they need a firearm in the home to protect themselves from criminals. Testifying to Congress last month, a gun advocate named Gayle Trotter presented a vivid image of how guns might be used.

“An assault weapon in the hands of a young woman defending her babies in her home becomes a defense weapon, and the peace of mind that a woman has as she’s facing three, four, five violent attackers, intruders in her home, with her children screaming in the background, the peace of mind that she has knowing that she has a scary-looking gun gives her more courage when she’s fighting hardened, violent criminals.”

Thrilling. Also wholly imaginary. Such Rambo-like defenses of home and hearth do not happen in real life, unless the home also happens to contain a meth lab. (The oft-cited statistic that gun owners draw in self-defense 2.5 million times a year is a classic of bad social science.)

Frum then links to an article that supports his opinion that no one uses guns to defend themselves, which Bruce Krafft has already thoroughly torn to shreds.

While Frum may live in a “safe” neighborhood where crime never happens, outside his little bubble, the reality is that this kind of thing happens every day. Armed robbers break into houses on a regular basis in the United States. And women really do need guns to defend their lives and defend against rapists.

There’s this example, for instance, of a mother shooting an armed intruder to save her child. Or, as for the idea that multiple intruders will never be an issue, here’s one where multiple armed robbers entered a house but were beaten back by a mother with a firearm. It happens every single day. And where a robbery could leave you bleeding to death only seconds after it starts, police will still take minutes – if you’re lucky – to show up.

Frum has therefore made it clear that he isn’t capable of distinguishing between “probable” and “possible.” It’s probable that you will never need a gun to defend your house or family from an intruder. It’s also probable that David will never crash his car into a cement wall. Nevertheless, I’m pretty sure he wears a seatbelt and has a car with an airbag. Because the possibility exists, and the consequences of such an event are so monumental (one’s untimely death), it makes sense to prepare for it. The same logic applies with firearms ownership for self defense.

The icing on the rhetorical cake is that, while a claim of 2.5 million DGUs per year might be over the top, even the most ardent anti-gunners put the number in the hundreds of thousands. That’s hundreds of thousands of times each year when a legal firearm saved at least one person’s life.

As a trained risk analyst, I can tell you that based on Bruce’s work (which I have double checked and agree with his methodology) there is actually a greater risk from civilian disarmament than there is from increased gun ownership (risk = threat x vulnerability x consequence, FYI).

The facts don’t support Frum’s proposition that more gun equals more crime. In fact, because the trend line is doing the exact opposite (crime and accidents decreasing as gun ownership increases) we can reject his hypothesis once and for all. But David isn’t letting a little thing like facts and logic get in his way.

He immediately pivots to an emotional argument, pulling out a 1994 article where a father shot his son by accident. Tragic, but reaching back to 1994 loses any credibility to my mind for applying it to the current environment. He goes further:

Hemenway again: “Between 1990 and 2000, an annual average of 320 children zero to fourteen either committed suicide with guns or were accidentally killed by guns.” American children are much more likely to suffer these tragedies than children in other countries. States with more guns suffer more than states in which guns are less common.

I’ve already talked about the issue with determining what counts as a “child” when the New York Times fudged the numbers to make it seem like more children were dying from guns. But in reality, that number is VASTLY less than the number of children killed by other means every year. Non-firearm related accidents alone account for tens of thousands of deaths for children every year, but I don’t see David focusing on those deaths. No, he makes the same tired “if we can only save one life it will be worth it” emotional argument, ignoring the hundreds of thousands of lives saved over the same time period by the legal use of firearms.

David’s plan is to flood the American public with studies that “prove” a political point, with no research done on the benefits of firearms in American citizen’s hands.

In addition to the government-funded propaganda  David suggests that gun makers are specifically designing their firearms so that they are more appealing to criminals, and Congress should shame them into changing their ways. How, exactly, are gun makers doing this? I’m glad you asked, because he has a list . . .

Gun makers often design their weapons in ways that present no benefit for lawful users but that greatly assist criminals. They don’t coordinate the issuance of serial numbers so that each gun can be identified with certainty. They stamp serial numbers in places where they can be effaced.

How would you “coordinate the issuance of serial numbers so that each gun can be identified with certainty?” The only way to do that is with a national gun registry, which (A) is illegal and (B) was the law in Canada until they realized that it wasn’t effective and was actually a gigantic waste of money. So already, David is proposing ideas that have been tried and proven ineffective for stopping crime, but waste millions of taxpayer dollars and trample on the civil rights of millions of Americans.

As for stamping serial numbers “in places where they can be effaced,” there’s nowhere on a gun that you can put a serial number where someone can’t get to it and scratch it off. Nowhere. It’s impossible. And the fact that he doesn’t realize this means that he has no idea what he’s talking about, and only wants to make gun manufacturers seem “evil.” A backdoor emotional argument.

They reject police requests to groove barrels to uniquely mark each bullet fired by a particular gun.

First off, how exactly would you accomplish this? The very nature of rifling means that there are only so many ways you can alter the grooves before they lose their effectiveness, and making a unique and individual groove pattern for every single firearm is impossible. Not only is it massively expensive to implement, but by my count you’ll get 20 different variations tops. So now, after wasting millions of dollars, you’re no closer to identifying “beyond a reasonable doubt” which of the hundreds of millions of firearms produced every year was used in a crime.

Not only that, barrels wear down. A mark that was evident on a bullet fired from a gun could be gone 20 rounds down the road. Depending on how clean a gun is and how many rounds have been fired since the evidence bullet was fired, barrels could have completely changed. I took college forensics. I remember this very clearly from the ballistics section.

Seriously, if you have a plan on how to do that I’d love to hear it. because from where I’m sitting it’s impossible and a waste of time.

They sell bullets that can pierce police armor.

Legally speaking, “armor piercing bullets” have been illegal for some time now and no reputable ammunition manufacturer produces them. However, I get the feeling that you’re talking about rifle ammunition.

Let me put it this way: my Grandfather’s .30-06 hunting rifle, using standard hunting ammunition, can pierce standard police issue body armor. Police typically use level III body armor, which is intended to stop most handgun rounds. It was never intended to stop rifle rounds. Unless you plan on making rifles illegal, there’s no way NOT to sell a rifle cartridge that will pierce police body armor.

As a quick aside, I ran into  a problem as I was debating my mother this past weekend. We were talking about ammunition restrictions, and she asked “well, what about cop killer bullets? Surely you don’t support those?” And then I had the pleasure to explain that hollow point ammunition (which was what she was referring to and is portrayed as such in the media) is actually less likely to go through police body armor than standard ammunition. It’s really incredible the level of misinformation people are reading out there.

They will not include trigger locks and other child-proofing devices as standard equipment.

Actually, I haven’t had a single gun come through my hands in the last few years that DIDN’T come with a trigger lock or other locking mechanism. So that, my friend, is a blatant lie.

They ignore new technology that would render guns inoperable by anyone except their approved purchaser.

Probably because those sensitive electronics are (A) massively expensive and (B) aren’t reliable enough to stand up to a lifetime of use. Somehow, I get the feeling that people would be mighty displeased if their gun suddenly stopped working one day after years of use and was not able to be fixed. Imagine that happening when an armed robber is trying to kill you.

Gun manufacturers are more concerned with making a firearm that is reliable than making one that has tons of bells and whistles. I’m sure if the technology ever becomes cheap and rugged enough they’ll start making such guns, but right now it’s not possible.

David wraps up with this little ditty:

There’s a gun agenda that need not depend on politics and that will not snatch a single weapon from any owner, whether law-abiding or not. If Congress stalls on the president’s ambitious legislative schemes, the president should fall back on this Plan B to publicize what guns really do to those who carry them — and what gunmakers do to their customers.

This is the refrain that I keep hearing again and again from Democrats: no one is trying to take your guns. And yet, they consistently introduce legislation that would do exactly that, whether in the form of “assault weapons” bans or magazine capacity limits.

David has tipped his hand already. He’d love nothing more than to strip away one of our fundamental civil rights and leave us at the mercy of criminals and tyrants. He doesn’t believe that citizens should have the ability to defend themselves, because in his closed-minded world no one is ever attacked. He lives in a fantasy utopian world, and because his prized civilian disarment plans have fallen on deaf ears in Congress he wants the President to push a propaganda campaign and force people to believe his twisted reality. But the reality is that the right to self defense is indeed fundamental, and one that is the birthright of every human in the world.

And the reason the President “needs a ‘Plan B’ on guns” is that Congress, as well as the Supreme Court, agree that the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

Is public opinion on his side? Maybe. But at one point in time, 50%+ of the American population thought black people were furniture. And just because an opinion is the “latest” one doesn’t necessarily make it the right one.