The media got another lesson on the dangers of getting ahead of the facts when it comes to their reporting. This time, they blamed gun buyers for the spike in crime.
Turns out, law-abiding citizens who buy guns aren’t the ones committing crimes. They’re buying guns because of the rise in crime. Media are getting it wrong – again – and quietly backing off their anti-gun narrative…for the moment at least.
MSNBC’s Chris Hayes thought he had all the answers, or at least enough to mislead his shrinking audience of viewers. He predetermined that 21 million background checks last year – and over 8.4 million first-time gun buyers – are the problem in America. Those would be the guns that were bought, sold, and possessed by those individuals that followed the law, underwent a background check and obtained them legally from licensed firearm retailers.
“America is a violent place,” Hayes told his viewers. “America has a lot of guns. And last year, Americans got a lot more guns and got more violent. Is it crazy to see a relationship between these two simple stark facts?”
Facts Be Damned
Yes, Chris. It is crazy. Sometimes it’s a question of which came first, the chicken or the egg. Sometimes it’s just egg on the face.
To support his anti-gun narrative, Hayes took two completely different data points and suggested a causal relationship between them. He conflated correlation with causation. It’s more than just crazy, it is irresponsible and an abdication of actual journalistic principles.
Not to worry though. No one takes MSNBC seriously as a “journalistic” enterprise.
The Reload’s Stephen Gutowski took Hayes’ antigun pontifications to task. It wasn’t difficult, nor did it have high hurdles. Gutowski relied on a tried-and-true method. He examined the facts.
Gutowski pointed out that the data Hayes was attempting to use to boost his anti-gun screed actually discredited his arguments. The charts he used to show the spike in gun sales were actually tables of background checks.
Those would be the same FBI National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) that verified the individual purchasing a firearm is a law-abiding citizen who hasn’t been prohibited from possessing a firearm.
“That should give you insight into the people buying all those guns: namely, that they can pass a background check,” Gutowski tweeted. “It’s rather unlikely that a significant number of people who can pass an FBI background check to buy a gun then immediately turned around and murder someone.”
Well, unlikely to everyone other than David Chipman who thinks gun owners are all future criminals in waiting.
Gutowski went on to explain it in further detail on his website. Fox News covered the blowback against Hayes from Gutowski. Bearing Arms’ Cam Edwards also took apart the blind accusations as “simplistic to the point of inanity.”
Edwards pointed to the fact that the gun sales spike started in March 2020 and in April, gun control darling Chipman, who is nominated to run the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), mocked gun owners as zombie apocalypse preppers. Edwards added that the Chicago Sun Times reported violent crime was spiraling out of control in May 2020, two months after Americans started buying guns in record numbers.
Even UC Davis Disagrees
Turns out, when the facts are objectively examined, the exact opposite of what Hayes alleges turns out to be true. Axios reported that a University of California-Davis Violence Prevention Research Program took a look at the facts. These university programs are normally incubators for antigun groupthink, so when they reach an opposing conclusion, it is worth noting.
Their study showed that there were 4.3 million firearm purchases above the norm from March through July 2020. There was also a 27 percent increase in firearm injuries at the same time.
“Researchers found no clear association between more gun purchases and increased gun violence… during the first two months of the pandemic when lockdowns were most severe,” Axios reported. The report stated that might be because those guns were sold to existing gun owners.
NSSF’s surveys demonstrate gun purchases as the causation of crime is not the case. Over 8.4 million times, that wasn’t the case. Those same surveys asked retailers not just who was buying guns, but why. Customers told firearm retailers it was because of concerns over personal safety.
That bore out in the types of firearms that were most popular. Typically, handguns comprise over half the guns sold in a typical year. That held true in 2020, but with 21 million background checks, that tells the industry that there were tens of millions of background checks for handgun sales. Those aren’t guns typically used for hunting. These would be a poor choice for ducks or deer, but an excellent choice for personal defense.
It’s not rocket science. It doesn’t take a university research center to mull over the data. It’s really simple. People are buying guns to protect themselves.
It’s the crime, stupid.
Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.