Dale Hansen over at HuffPo is using his bully pulpit (okay, with 798 likes and 18 shares, maybe that’s being charitable) to lambaste Vince Vaughn (whose recent pro-gun comments to GQ UK have stirred up a minor firestorm) and the various members of FoxNews’s The Five. In the process Dale manages to display either abject ignorance and credulity or an unusual willingness to lie through his teeth when it supports the Civilian Disarmament Industrial Complex agenda. Here’s the quote Dale’s knickers are so bunched over . . .
I support people having a gun in public, full stop, not just in your home. We don’t have the right to bear arms because of burglars; we have the right to bear arms to resist the supreme power of a corrupt and abusive government.
It’s not about duck hunting; it’s about the ability of the individual. It’s the same reason we have freedom of speech. … All these gun shootings that have gone down in America since 1950, only one, or maybe two have happened in non-gun-free zones.
The Five’s Greg Gutfeld supported Vaughn’s statements in the face of much media displeasure, calling the outcry “fact free,” a statement with which Dale disagrees:
Of course the bigger problem here is that Gutfeld is convinced that his version of reality represents facts. Is it true that since 1950 only one or two mass shootings have occurred in non-gun-free zones? The shootings at Fort Hood and the Washington Naval Base[sic] are two recent mass shootings which clearly don’t fit the “gun-free” profile.
Unfortunately Dale’s answer to his presumably rhetorical question is flat out wrong; like many who never served, Dale is unaware of the fact that guns are pretty much banned on all military bases. For the six years I was stationed at Norfolk Naval Base, the only people who were allowed to carry on base were the gate guards and base police. So yeah, Dale, Fort Hood and Washington Navy Yard actually were and remain “gun-free” zones.
Since Dale’s two examples are wrong, let me answer his question: Yes, it is true that according to information from Dr. John Lott, from 1950 to April 2014 only two mass casualty shootings have occurred in non-gun-free zones. One was the 2011 Tucson spree which killed six and wounded 13 others (including the apparent target, Representative Gabby Giffords). The other was also in 2011, at the Carson City, Nevada IHOP where the shooter killed four and wounded seven before eating his own gun.
The reality is that even Gutfeld is only able to find less than a handful of mass murders where the perpetrator took the gun-free status into account.
This is probably because it’s hard to divine the motives of mass-murdering nutbags, especially if they off themselves. But let us not get distracted by this particular red herring; it really doesn’t matter if these shooters deliberately and knowingly chose a gun-free zone to wreak their twisted revenge on whomever. The point is that for whatever reason, more than 95% of mass shootings have taken place in so-called gun-free zones.
Not to be outdone, Gutfeld’s colleague Eric Bolling adds his own misinformation to the mix when he stated: “You want facts, here are the facts. Since 1993 gun ownership has gone up by 50 percent. In that same period of time the murder rate has gone down by 50 percent”. The only problem with this “fact” is that it suggests this correlation represents causation.
Actually Dale, it is typically the antis who suggest that correlation equals causation. Look at the New York Times piece, “More Guns = More Killing,” or the “study” out of the New York University School of Medicine, More Guns Equal More Deaths, Study Finds, or the following table from our friends Miller, Azrael and Hemenway of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center (with more correlation = causation claims here):
What I gather from Bolling’s statement is the exact reverse of what Dale thinks; Eric is pointing out that the antis are wrong when they try to argue that more guns inevitably lead to more murders.
If Bolling thinks that things are getting better, he might also want to point out that in 1977 over 50% of households owned a gun while in 2014 that number had fallen to 31 percent. Perhaps the causation here is that there are less murders now because less people have access to guns.
Nice bait-and-switch there, Dale. Bolling was talking about gun ownership and you flipped it around to households with guns. And Dale bases his argument on the GSS; you know the Federal government’s General Social Survey? Yeah, I’m sure that most people have no problem telling the government how many guns they have, right? All sarcasm aside, however, according to CNN (based on the CNN/ORC Poll of 04/05/13 – 04/07/13 available here):
At the start of the year, 53% of Americans in a household with a gun said that they thought the government was trying to take away their rights; now [04/10/2013] that number has grown to 62% of all gun households.
And if we look at the number of respondents to that question (477) divided by the total number of respondents (1,012) that gives us a rough number of households with guns: 44.2%.
Another poll question (which I couldn’t find coverage of) gives more insight into just how much trust people put in government (this question was posed to all 1,012 respondents, not just gun-owners):
If the federal government does create a national list of people who own guns, do you think the government would use that information to take guns away from people who own them?
Date Yes No Unsure
4/5-7/13 66% 32% 2%
Bolling’s numbers do stand up, however, if we look at the number of guns rather than the number of households with guns. According to The Christian Science Monitor (not exactly a right-wing mouthpiece) “[p]er capita ownership of firearms in the US has doubled since 1968.” According to the Congressional Research Service, in 2009 estimated 310 million privately owned guns in the US. Going to the FBI’s NICS data table we find 101,455,876 NICS checks from 01/2010 through 05/2015. Assuming that 60% of these were sales of new firearms (based on comparing NICS checks with the ATF’s production, export and import data for 2009 – 2012 (the most recent year for production numbers)), that gives us about 60,900,000 additional privately owned guns for a rough total of 371 million privately owned firearms in the US. This gives us 4 ½ year increase of about 19.7% so an increase of 50% over the 12 years from 1993 to 2015 is not at all unreasonable. See Dale? You just need to look at facts.
As for the reduction in homicide rates, according to the CDC the overall (age-adjusted) homicide rate in 1993 was 9.51 per 100,000 with gun-related homicides at 6.75 per 100,000. In 2013 (the latest data the CDC has available) the overall homicide rate was 5.16 with gun-related homicides contributing 3.61 per 100,000. So yeah, I’d call a 46% drop in the overall rate and a 47% drop in the firearm rate close enough to 50% for talking head purposes.
Dale offers some more generalizations and heaps scorn on The Five’s approval of New York City’s recently halted “stop-and-frisk” program (that’s okay, I scorn it too) before finishing up with:
The good news is there is a compromise available. The word “arms” in the constitution has not been specifically defined, which means it is open to interpretation. Instead of trying to outlaw guns, gun control advocates should simply outlaw the manufacture and sale of bullets. The second amendment would remain intact while gun deaths would fall dramatically.
Actually Dale, SCOTUS did a pretty good job defining “arms” in the Heller case:
The 18th-century meaning is no different from the meaning today. The 1773 edition of Samuel Johnson’s dictionary defined “arms” as “[w]eapons of offence, or armour of defence.” … Timothy Cunningham’s important 1771 legal dictionary defined “arms” as “any thing that a man wears for his defence, or takes into his hands, or useth in wrath to cast at or strike another.” …
The term was applied, then as now, to weapons that were not specifically designed for military use and were not employed in a military capacity. …
But setting all that aside, I would like to remind Dale that antagonizing a large portion of the population by passing laws which significantly impinge on the natural, fundamental, and inalienable human, individual, civil and Constitutional right to own and carry the weapon of your choice will assuredly do nothing to reduce “gun deaths.”
Be careful what you wish for. Just sayin’.