PJ Media

More Bunk On Concealed Carry From the Violence Policy Center

Before he was president — even before he was a senator — Barack Obama was active on the board of directors for several organizations. Most people know of the time Obama spent with domestic terrorist Bill Ayers on the board of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, but fewer people seem to know that Obama was also a director of the left-wing Joyce Foundation.

The Joyce Foundation has always directed considerable monies towards funding gun control groups under the guise of scholarly research and anti-violence efforts. Thanks to the efforts of David T. Hardy, we know that Obama was part of a significant Joyce Foundation effort to subvert Second Amendment scholarship. Though Joyce’s efforts failed to sway the Supreme Court significantly, as evidenced by the Heller decision, Joyce has not given up on efforts to undermine Second Amendment rights and funds several anti-gun organizations.

Among these is the so-called Violence Policy Center (VPC).

The VPC long ago established a reputation for playing fast and loose with the facts and has often been guilty of making accusations that are scurrilous or unsupportable. It has claimed that there are “virtually no differences” between semi-automatic civilian rifles such as AR-15s and fully automatic military machine guns such as the M-16, even though the ability of a military weapon to fire automatically is a very significant difference, both as a practical and legal matter. The organization has also made repeated accusations that .50-caliber rifles are a preferred terrorist and criminal tool, even though the claims have not held up.

Now, the Violence Policy Center has issued a new report, “Law Enforcement and Private Citizens Killed by Concealed Handgun Permit Holders,” that will cement the organization’s reputation for shoddy research and intentionally deceptive reporting.

The report claims to have collected data over a 23-month period (May 2007 to April 2009) that shows concealed handgun permit holders have killed seven law enforcement officers and 44 civilians in 31 incidents. The VPC hopes the media and other gun control organizations will scan the document’s summary and report that concealed weapons permit holders are a danger to society.

The truth, of course, is an entirely different matter, starting with how the VPC conducted its research. The organization did not rely upon hard data, but instead compiled its report by searching media accounts, which are notoriously inaccurate. To compound their poor choice of source material, the organization decided to include concealed carry permit holders even when concealed weapons played no part in the alleged crime. To further cloud the issue, the VPC included carry permit holders that erroneously had permits and who should not have had permits if authorities had not made mistakes.

Here is just a sampling of the problems in the report:

— One of the men cited in the report, Jason Kenneth Hamilton, should not have had a carry permit because of a prior domestic violence conviction. Further, he did not even use a concealed handgun in the commission of his crimes. He instead used two rifles, rendering his inclusion in this list highly questionable.

— Richard Poplawski is the white supremacist who gunned down three police officers in Pittsburgh in April of this year. Like Hamilton, he should not have had a carry permit due to a previous domestic violence incident. Also like Hamilton, Poplawski was armed with two rifles as his primary and secondary weapons.

— Michael McLendon, a spree killer who killed four members of his family and five others with a rifle before committing suicide, made it into the VPC report even though he, like Hamilton and Poplawski, did not use a handgun, concealed or otherwise, during the commission of his crimes.

— Tony Villegas wasn’t accused of using any weapon at all — he was accused of strangling his wife’s friend.

— Andrew Sherman Conley was showing his girlfriend a handgun — again, not concealed — when it discharged, killing her. He had a negligent discharge and is charged with manslaughter. This cannot be characterized as a crime caused because someone had a concealed carry permit.

— William Garrido pled no contest in 1997 to charges of aggravated assault with a weapon. He, also, should not have had a carry permit.

Of the 31 incidents cited by the Violence Policy Center in its report, eight did not involved the use of concealed weapons. One used no weapon at all, four used rifles, one was a negligent discharge, and three were incidents of domestic violence where non-concealed handguns were used.

In seven of the 31 incidents — accounting for 13 deaths — law enforcement failed, providing permits to those who legally should not have had permits due to either previous violent crimes, domestic crimes, or mental health reasons.

All told, 30 of the 57 people that the Violence Policy Center suggested were killed as a result of concealed carry should not have been included in any study citing concealed carry of handguns as a significant contributing factor. The report — which would never survive first contact with any sort of academic peer review — amounts to nearly worthless propaganda. In that regard, it is consistent with the reputation that the VPC has established for shoddy methodology and agenda-driven conclusions.

There are estimated to be more than three million concealed carry permit holders in the United States, and concealed carry permit holders are far less likely to commit any crime than the general population.

This truth doesn’t keep the VPC from misstating the facts about concealed carry.

It could be fairly argued that this long-running willingness to promote anti-gun propaganda over facts was the reason that Barack Obama and the other directors of the Joyce Foundation funded the VPC during his tenure on the board, and why Joyce continues to fund Violence Policy Center reports (including this one) even today.

It isn’t about being being accurate or truthful. Like its most famous backer, the VPC is willing to say or do nearly anything to trumpet its predetermined result.