Ezra Klein’s ‘Facts’ About Guns and Violence Tell a Slanted Story
3. Gun ownership in the United States is declining overall.
Klein cited surveys by the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) and Gallup as evidence that gun ownership is declining in America.
NORC received $300,000 from the Joyce Foundation in 2011. Joyce also gave the Violence Policy Center $500,000, and VPC is proven to manipulate data to advance their agenda. Joyce’s “gun violence” grantees are all demonstrably committed to gun control.
The Gallup survey shows that since 1991, gun ownership declined about 3%. But it also shows that ownership is the highest since 1996. Gallup recently found that support for bans on handguns and semi-automatic rifles reached an historical low.
The National Rifle Association estimates there were about 65 million gun owners in 2000 and 100 million by 2010. But there’s a major piece missing in Klein’s discussion: gun ownership grew from 31% to 43% of the voting population.
There’s lots of anecdotal evidence of gun owner growth, particularly among women.
CBS reported: “More women than ever are picking up rifles, shotguns, and handguns. And target shooting is one of the fastest-growing female sports.”
Women are also concerned about personal protection. From Florida ABC affiliate WTLV: “The number of women with a concealed carry permit in Florida was around 48,000 in 2004. By 2011 that number grew to 146,000.”
The Austin Statesman wrote: “According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, the number of women who got their concealed handgun license grew by 65 percent between 2006 and 2010, the latest year that data was available.”
After the Aurora shooting, the Denver Post reported an increase in gun sales. Said one gun store employee: “A lot of it is people saying, I didn't think I needed a gun, but now I do.”
4. More guns tend to mean more homicide.
Klein cited the Harvard School of Public Health—another Joyce Foundation grantee—which published research concluding that more guns equal more murder. But Centers for Disease Control data show the opposite: States with the highest gun ownership have the lowest murder rates. The graph below shows that right-to-carry states—with more liberal laws empowering citizens to carry handguns in public—average 17.4% lower murder rates than restrictive states.
States with the most gun control had the lowest gun ownership, the highest violent crime and murder rates, and the highest non-firearms murder rates. In short, they’re the most dangerous places to live.
5. States with stricter gun control laws have fewer deaths from gun-related violence.
To arrive at this conclusion, Klein included suicides. But suicide is not violence. For example, law enforcement doesn’t charge attempted suicides with any violent crime unless there was an assault on another (e.g. murder/suicide).
True, 2001-2002 CDC data show that states with higher firearms ownership have higher firearms suicide rates. But more guns doesn’t always mean more suicide. About 100 million guns were added to the civilian firearms inventory between 1991 and 2009, but the firearms suicide rate declined 17% while non-firearms suicides increased 22%. Using suicide to make a point about firearms-related violence is junk science that ignores the complex dynamics of self-harm.
6. Gun control is not politically popular.
That’s because gun control fails to work as advertised. Since the 1990s, pro-rights writers have been accomplishing top-notch research and getting the word out, resulting in more gun ownership and less stigma attached to being a gun owner.
There are 100 million gun owners of voting age, and they tend to be politically active. For example, many Democrats believe the Clinton gun ban was why Gore lost the presidential election.
Klein didn’t perform an objective analysis of all the data; his “research” is an op/ed. He simply wanted to complain that we’re minimizing the Aurora tragedy for political purposes. But the truth is: he’s promoting gun control, and his column was nothing more than an attempt to grab the moral high ground and shame people into exchanging liberty for the unproven fantasy that government makes us safer.
(Thumbnail on PJM homepage based on a modified Shutterstock.com image.)