John Rosenthal has his knickers in quite a twist. He’s the co-founder of Massachusetts-based Stop Handgun Violence and is the man responsible for the iconic 252 foot long anti-gun billboard which used to face the Mass. Pike near Fenway Park. Unfortunately his craving for filthy lucre recently overcame his principles and he sold the parking garage where the sign was mounted. He thought he would be able to keep spreading his message (for free no less) as four media companies had agreed to donate space on 36 billboards to the cause . . .
Unfortunately…well, I’ll let him state his case (unless otherwise noted all quotes are from the SHV press release to which I won’t link):
The gun lobby engaged in ruthless and relentless pressure tactics against Texas-based Clear Channel and its Boston based investor Bain Capital, flooding its corporate headquarters with phone calls and emails and threatening to launch a nationwide boycott on advertising on Clear Channel billboards and radio stations.
Hmm, sort of like Moms Demand Action threatening to boycott Starbucks. And Target. And Kroger. And Staples. Except gunnies were more effective. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; this is the difference between true grassroots activism and Astro-Turf “activism.”
As RF pointed out in one of his pieces:
Attributing gun rights gains to a “gun lobby” marginalizes gun owners seeking to exercise their natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms without government infringement. It makes them seem like sheep blindly following men motivated by arrogance, greed and a desire for personal power.
The antis, with their paid flacks, shills and armed bodyguards just can’t seem to wrap their brains around the concept. They also have difficulty with the whole “First Amendment” concept, as Joel demonstrates:
“The special interest gun industry believes the Second Amendment is sacrosanct, but the First Amendment is meaningless,” said John Rosenthal, co-founder of Stop Handgun Violence.
I suppose trying to intimidate corporations into giving up their freedom of association is somehow different. Either way, however, if antis like Joel read the Second Amendment the way they read the First they would be clamoring for mandatory gun-ownership not more restrictions. But getting back to Joel’s plaint: Large numbers of law-abiding citizens expressing their displeasure with corporations deciding to give an anti-gun group free billboard space does not a First Amendment violation make.
“The gun industry is more interested in selling guns and protecting the rights of kids, criminals and mentally ill people to buy guns undetected than the lives of the innocent people who ultimately become their victims. Congress, which has been equally intimidated into submission, stands by while we lose 83 Americans every day to gun violence.”
This is partly true. The gun industry, like the car industry or the insurance industry or the hamburger industry is interested in selling their lawful products to lawful customers. And when you and your brothers at the American Academy of Pediatrics define “kids” as aged 15 – 19 you can’t turn around and whine that the “gun industry” is selling guns to “kids”.
As for “criminals and mentally ill people” buying their guns “undetected”, they were doing that before the ’68 GCA was passed, before the Brady Bill was passed, and will continue to do so even if your “universal background checks” are passed along with the universal registration that would be required to close whatever “loophole” you are going to call it when the government doesn’t track every gun, everywhere, from manufacture to destruction. This is the nature of criminals; they break the law.
And in the case of background checks and registration, remember that since 1968 and Haynes v. United States (390 U.S. 85) criminals can’t be required to register their guns!
Now let’s look at that “we lose 83 Americans every day to gun violence” meme, shall we? That’s 30,295 people per year lost to “gun violence.” I have to assume that, unlike Mayor Mike’s No More Names “gun violence victims” list you aren’t including one of the Boston Marathon bombers, nor are you including criminal suspects shot by police or in lawful self-defense by armed citizens. (The Washington Examiner found that “1 in 12 on Bloomberg’s gun victims list are crime suspects”.)
And since you specify people killed by “gun violence” you must not be including accidental shootings which while they may be acts of negligence are hardly acts of violence. Finally, since numerous studies have shown that suicide rates are independent of method (i.e. restricting access to guns may reduce the rate of firearm suicides but has no effect on overall suicide rates) we can eliminate suicides as well.
Hopping over to the ever popular CDC’s WISQARS website, we find that for the 5 years from 2009 – 2013 (the last year they have numbers for) we have averaged 32,513.8 total deaths from firearms annually, or 89 per day. Removing the suicides, accidents and legal interventions, but leaving in “undetermined intent” however, leaves us with 11,547.6 annually, or 31.6 per day. Too many? Yes, even 1 homicide is too many, but since we have over 5,100 non-firearm related homicides a year over the same time frame I would say that we have a problem with homicides, not with guns.
But wait, that is one of the costs associated with guns, what about the benefits associated with guns? Briefly, DGUs save at least 25,000 lives a year, more than twice as many as are lost to CGUs. For the details behind the numbers you can check out my TTAG piece The Costs and Benefits of the Second Amendment – Without the Benefits.
But those aren’t the only numbers Joel has made up; in his very last paragraph he boasts:
Since 1994 when Stop Handgun Violence began its work and installed the first billboard, the number of gun deaths in Massachusetts has dropped 63%.
Again, you gotta love the CDC, whose numbers show Joel for the unmitigated liar that he is:
This chart shows that, from a peak of 309 in 1994, “gun deaths” fell to 213 in 2013. (Here’s a hint, a 62% drop would mean they went from 309 to 114.)
So what was the actual “percent change”? Here’s another chart which shows the cumulative percentage change each year from 1995 – 2013:
Well Joel, you hit 43% in 2000, but then mostly lost ground after that. As various pols and bigwigs have said over the years, Joel: “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.” Quit trying to make up facts, and quit trying to muzzle your opposition by appealing to the First Amendment.