CBS News has published a story asking “How Heavily Armed Is Your State.” Using scary pictures of scary guns, it purports to reveal the number of registered guns in each state. The main problem: CBS conflates the ATF’s National Firearms Act database with guns commonly held by average Americans, in an effort to maintain the fiction of few guns held by Americans. CBS explains their (flawed) methodology on the first page:
As America reels from yet another mass shooting, inevitable questions resurface about guns laws and the nation’s pervasive firearm culture. Here is a look at per capita weapons data, based on the ATF’s National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record, and 2013 data from the U.S. Census.
While the ATF’s National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record is the only accessible list of its kind, it is not all-inclusive. NFA firearms only include the categories regulated by The National Firearms Act of 1934: machine guns, short-barreled rifles, short-barreled shotguns, suppressors, destructive devices like bombs and grenades, concealable devices with the ability to discharge a shot through the energy of an explosive, and any firearm with a bore over half an inch that has not been determined to have a legitimate sporting use.
NFA items are a tiny subset of the larger number of firearms purchased every year and possessed by tens of millions of Americans. How CBS thought that the NFA database was in any way relevant to a discussion of firearms ownership in America is beyond comprehension. Unless they deliberately set out to underestimate U.S. per capita gun ownership.
The unspectacular results are pretty spectacular in their own entirely misleading way. I can’t speak for every state’s firearms ownership rate, but I’m up on Illinois stats. For my home state, CBS News claims “for every 1,000 residents in Illinois, there are 9.2 guns. That’s 118,295 registered firearms dispersed among 12,882,135 people.”
At first glance, a reader could easily think there are only 118,295 guns in The Land of Lincoln. “For every 1,000 residents in Illinois, there are 9.2 guns.” Yes, well . . .
As of June 1, 2016, Illinois had 181,000 concealed carry license holders. And that number is growing at a rate of seven to eight thousand new licenses per month. Within the next couple of weeks, the state will approach 200k concealed carry license holders.
Also, by June of this year, 2,016,929 Illinois residents held valid “Firearm Owner Identification” Cards, required to possess firearms or ammunition, up from 1,260,521 on January 2009. That’s a 60 percent increase in less than eight years.
Get the picture? CBS obviously doesn’t.
CBS should be embarrassed for it shoddy “journalism” in conflating Class III NFA guns with guns commonly bought, sold and used for self-defense. Once more, CBS News reaffirms why 94 percent of Americans distrust mainstream media’s reporting.