As billionaire-backed gun prohibition lobbying groups are pulling out all the stops in their exploitation of the tragic Florida high school shooting, the Washington Post is calling a foul on one of their major hysteria memes.
“No, there haven’t been 18 school shootings in 2018. That number is flat wrong,” the headline declares.
When the Washington Post runs a bold-faced, two-deck headline that slams a gun control claim, that’s worth taking notice. The Washington Examiner has reported the same thing this week, as has Liberty Park Press. The WaPo’s editorial page has not been Second Amendment friendly over the years, and that makes this development even more significant.
The analysis focuses on billionaire Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety, but it could just as easily apply to other gun control lobbying groups. Gun rights activists say the group should be named “Everytown for Gun Prohibition,” because that more closely describes what this organization is all about.
The analysis, authored by John Woodrow Cox and Steven Rich, notes, “The figures matter because gun-control activists use them as evidence in their fight for bans on assault weapons, stricter background checks and other legislation. Gun rights groups seize on the faults in the data to undermine those arguments and, similarly, present skewed figures of their own.”
It is not clear to which gun rights groups the analysis alludes. For example, the Second Amendment Foundation and Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms typically rely on data from the annual FBI Uniform Crime Report and other reliable sources. These sources are available to every working journalist in the United States, and it is not difficult to check the data.
This is especially important for news agencies that often quote the faulty claim by gun prohibitionists that there are 30,000 (or 33,000) deaths from “gun violence” every year. This is a distortion resulting from the combination of suicides, accident victims and actual homicides. But anti-gunners evidently define “gun violence” as any time a firearm is discharged. Here is another passage from the WaPo analysis:
“Everytown has long inflated its total by including incidents of gunfire that are not really school shootings. Take, for example, what it counted as the year’s first: On the afternoon of Jan. 3, a 31-year-old man who had parked outside a Michigan elementary school called police to say he was armed and suicidal. Several hours later, he killed himself. The school, however, had been closed for seven months. There were no teachers. There were no students.
“Everytown explains on its website that it defines a school shooting as ‘any time a firearm discharges a live round inside a school building or on a school campus or grounds.’”
At the very least, that is disingenuous. Yet very few news agencies or individual journalists question the gun control lobby. Instead of asking “why,” gun owning readers have dropped newspaper subscriptions or switched channels. Who pays for the privilege of having their lifestyle and an important constitutional right trampled upon?
To its credit, the WaPo analysis also included this:
“In 2015, The Post’s Fact Checker awarded the group’s figures — invoked by Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) — four Pinocchios for misleading methodology.
“Another database, the Gun Violence Archive, defines school shootings in much narrower terms, considering only those that take place during school hours or extracurricular activities.
“Yet many journalists rely on Everytown’s data. Post media critic Erik Wemple included the 18 figure in a column Wednesday night, and Michael Barbaro, host of the New York Times’ podcast ‘The Daily,’ used the number to punctuate the end of his Thursday show.”
In an email blast Thursday, the Seattle-based Alliance for Gun Responsibility (another misnomer meant to fool the public, activists contend), also backed by wealthy elitists, declared, “Enhanced Assault Weapon Background Checks can go a long way toward keeping these weapons of war out of the hands of people seeking to use them in mass shootings, particularly those under the age of 21…”
Many Second Amendment activists call this rhetoric inflammatory, and they wonder what, exactly, an “enhanced assault weapon background check” would entail. At some point, say gun rights advocates, all of these hoops through which the gun prohibition lobby wants people to jump before they can exercise a fundamental right are going to collide with the Constitution.
That’s because having a gun is a constitutional right, not a government-regulated privilege.