Checking Facts and Falsehoods About Gun Violence and Mental Illness After Parkland Shooting. That’s the headline hovering above a New York Times article that is a parody, a mockery of factual analysis. A piece of anti-gun agitprop the descends into pseudo scientific claptrap faster than you can say “mass shooting” . . .
“Mental health is often a big problem underlying these tragedies.” — House Speaker Paul Ryan. That’s the first “fact” that “fact checkers” Linda Qiu and Justin Bank want to address. Hang on . . .
How do you “debunk” a statement that says that mental health is “often” a problem underlying spree killings? Not always. Often.
We know for a fact that the Newtown, Aurora, Virginia Tech and Giffords spree killers were diagnosed as mentally ill. So there’s only one way that Speaker Ryan’s comment would be false: if mental health was “seldom” or “never” a problem underlying mass shootings.
How in the world can you label Speaker Ryan’s statement anything other than factual?
“There’s a link,” the Times “fact checkers” admit, “but it’s more limited than widely thought.”
So Ryan’s statement is a fact, but it’s not an important fact. At least not to the Times’ “fact checkers.” Who proceed to redefine the statement entirely to debunk it. Like this:
Mr. Ryan’s claim reflects a common misconception. According to various polls, roughly half of Americans either believe that failing to identify people with mental health problems is the primary cause of gun violence or that addressing mental health issues would be a major deterrent.
That conclusion is not shared by experts or widely accepted research.
That’s an incredibly intellectually dishonest attempt at misdirection. A transparent ploy to cite unnamed, unattributed sources to counter an opinion which Speaker Ryan doesn’t hold. Equally incredibly, it gets worse . . .
Overall, mass shootings by people with serious mental illness represent 1 percent of all gun homicides each year, according to the book “Gun Violence and Mental Illness” published by the American Psychiatric Association in 2016.
To be sure, gun violence experts contacted by New York Times reporters have said that barring sales to people who are deemed dangerous by mental health providers could help prevent mass shootings. But the experts said several more measures — including banning assault weapons and barring sales to convicted violent criminals — more effective.
Speaker Ryan wasn’t talking about “gun homicides” in general. He was talking about some mass shootings.
And admitting that mental health is an issue then interjecting an assault weapon ban into the conversation is another example of blatant misdirection and, in this case, a clear case of propagandizing.
While we’re at it, it’s a fact that criminals convicted of violent offenses are barred from purchasing firearms. Who fact checks The Times’ “fact checkers”? Not The New York Times.
To be fair (a concept largely unfamiliar to the anti-gun rights Times), the authors point out that people repeating the Everytown for Gun Safety “18 school shootings this year” stat are FOS. Which the Times pretty much had to do as The Washington Post already went there and did that.
To be unfair, the Times “fact checkers” also try to “debunk” the idea that Israel stopped school shootings by arming teachers and administrators.
This they don’t do by quoting one Israeli politician who says his country stopped school shootings thanks to “an overall antiterror policy and antiterror operations.” Well he would say that, wouldn’t he? And it doesn’t entirely discount the role of arming schools, does it?
One “expert.” Seriously? It takes me one Google search to find two Israeli experts who favor arming American teachers.
Sigh. Here’s a really important fact: The New York Times is not to be trusted on the subject of guns. Ever.