Michael Bloomberg’s personally-funded gun control group, Everytown for Gun Safety (hereafter referred to as EGS for carpel tunnel avoidance purposes) released a “report” yesterday that sought to prove, once and for all, that guns are bad and the “reasonable” restrictions push are in fact needed. Personally, I’m not buying it. The main reason is that while their numbers appear on the surface to support their conclusions, when you take more than three seconds to look at the data they’re presenting you can tell that they’ve tried their hardest to make the results fit the conclusion. For example . . .
The report was focused on “mass shootings.” For years, the mot de jour for gun control activists was “spree killer,” the bogeyman of a “gun nut” who “snapped” and started shooting people at random. That’s the image that people come up with when you say mass shooting, but looking through the provided examples that isn’t really what we see here. EGS expanded the definition to include any incident where four or more people were killed, not just random killings but targeted murders as well. And of those murders, there’s a definite drug and gang related trend evident. Expanding the definition to include all multiple murders definitely brought the numbers up for shock value, but while EGS wants people to associate “mass shooting” with events like Columbine and Aurora the reality is that most of the time it’s gang related or domestic issues — not random acts of violence.
Speaking of the data, EGS compiled this information from an FBI report as well as using media reports of incidents to fill in the gaps. There’s a problem with that methodology: news reports only usually cover headline-grabbing sensationalist events. There’s no way to know if this data is actually statistically significant, and there’s little doubt that “shocking” events are over-represented thanks to that media bias.
As for the results, even that is underwhelming.
The report starts off my announcing that less than one percent of the homicide-related murders in the United States fall into this category. Firearms related homicides are already a rare occurrence (~2 per 100,000 for guns compared to ~10 per 100,000 for car accidents), and the EGS report is focusing on just 1% of those deaths. To put that in perspective, more people die from iron deficiency anemia in the United States than are murdered using firearms, and EGS is focusing on an even smaller percentage of deaths — 0.02 per 100,000 annually in the US. The word “infinitesimal” comes to mind, and EGS wants to change the laws in the United States based on these exceptionally rare occurrences.
Another point that the report tries to make is that most of their cases happened outside gun free zones. “Look!” they yell, “the NRA is lying to you! Gun free zones aren’t the problem!” Well yes, when you inflate the definition of “mass shooting” to absurd levels you stop focusing on the actual events that people care about. Most of the events in EGS’ report are small groups of people or domestic issues where the group was specifically targeted, not the “spree killer” events that get the insane levels of media attention. Problem is, as I said, the small events aren’t the ones that people care about. This report tries to make it sound like it is directly looking at events such as the shooting in Newtown, but that’s not the case.
Going even further, EGS removed any possibility for accurate reporting when they defined “gun free zone” in their research. According to EGS, if at any time the perpetrator of a “mass shooting” stepped out of a gun free zone and into a place where people were allowed to carry it no longer counts. So, if a shooter started in a parking lot and then headed inside a building that was a gun free zone it no longer counts — even if the gun free zone was specifically the target. They’re making some extreme stretches in this case just to make sure the results match their conclusions, and you can tell that they don’t really care about telling the whole truth.
Quite possibly the best thing about this report is a single chart that shows the percentage of cases where either an “assault weapon” or a “high capacity magazine” was used. From a study where they needed to expand the date range to six full years to get enough data points to appear legitimate, only 18% of cases used those evil items that EGS is trying so hard to ban. That’s 18% of 1% of a tiny fraction of deaths in the United States. Remember when I used the word “infinitesimal” before? Yeah, this is smaller.
The great thing is that the opposite is also true: 82% of “mass shootings” do NOT involve an “assault weapon” or a “high capacity magazine.” So even if EGS got their wish and everyone turned in all of those evil items, the vast and overwhelming majority of mass shootings would still take place. In other words, they just proved that their own demands are completely unjustified and ineffective at stopping “gun violence” or “mass shootings.”
The rest of the report harps on the same old tropes that they always pull out to energize their base. “Mass shootings impact more women! Gun owners are misogynistic women haters and guns kill women!” FYI, even with “mass shootings” the proportion of women killed compared to men still doesn’t match up with the national average. Men are more likely to be killed during a “mass shooting” as defined by EGS, period. “42% of shooters were prohibited from owning a gun! We need background checks!” And I’m willing to bet that those 42% fall squarely in the “gang banger” category and obtained their firearms illegally in the first place, no “gun show loophole” required, and even if there were mandatory background checks they would still get guns.
The list goes on.
Basically what it all boils down to is that EGS is following in the wonderful footsteps of Leni Riefenstahl. For those of you who don’t know her, Leni was another beautiful woman and master of propaganda (like Shannon Watts), but she worked for the Nazis. It’s all about re-enforcing the belief among your followers that they’re right, and shaming everyone else into falling in line with the “right” crowd. You can make a report say anything you want, and it’s no surprise that Everytown for Gun Safety has carefully crafted a report to exactly fit their pre-existing prejudices against gun owners.