As the year winds down, deceptive anti-gun rhetoric appears to be warming up, perhaps in an effort to sway Congress and state legislatures from passing pro-rights legislation, including a proposed national concealed carry reciprocity/recognition bill.
Leading the charge Wednesday is the New York Times. In an editorial lauding a move toward stricter gun control laws in Europe, the Times editorial board plays an old numbers game that was always designed to bamboozle the public into thinking there is a crime bloodbath happening here in the United States.
The Times editorial states, “Over the last decade, 10,000 homicides were committed with firearms in Europe. This is just a small fraction of the more than 300,000 gun deaths in that time in the United States, where citizens own guns at far higher rates.”
This is a misleading comparison. A check back over the past decade with the FBI Uniform Crime Report shows a total of 148,591 homicides in the years 2005-2015, which actually covers 11 annual FBI reports. Of those reported slayings, 101,400 were committed with firearms, a rough average of 9,218 murders annually.
By checking those FBI reports through the years, one discovers that beginning with the 2008 data, there have been fewer than 10,000 firearms-related homicides each year. In the majority of those years, the number of gun homicides was less than 9,000. Last year it jumped up again to just over 9,600.
Where does the Times editorial board get this figure of “300,000 gun deaths?” A clue might be found on the website of Ceasefire USA, a gun prohibition lobbying group. On its action page, this group states, “Each year, more than 30,000 Americans are killed by gun violence – homicides, suicides and incidental shootings.” The Times can get away with calling them “gun deaths,” because that’s technically correct. But is it honest to use an overall estimate as a comparison to the homicide data from another continent?
Ceasefire USA essentially admits to lumping all firearms fatalities together into a single sum, saying these people are “killed by gun violence.” That is a conclusion worthy of debate, because suicide is a personal act while homicide is a brutal crime. It might be interesting to discuss firearms suicide with someone who supports doctor-assisted suicide (by medication). The result is the same as leaping off a bridge or deliberately driving off a cliff.
It should be noted that annual homicide data from other sources bumps the number of criminal killings above the 10,000 mark. Still, by adding up all the numbers one still falls far short of the 300,000 “gun deaths” the Times editorial board throws out there to contrast with the number of homicides recorded in Europe, which is an unfair comparison.
About two-thirds of all firearm-related deaths in any given year are suicides. Of all the homicides committed over the years, only a fraction involve rifles of any kind, including semi-autos, lever- and bolt-actions, and single-shots. Far more people are murdered with knives or other cutting instruments. More die from being struck with blunt objects, or beaten, choked and/or stomped. But anti-gunners keep pushing for a ban on so-called “assault weapons” which is used to describe modern semi-auto sport/utility rifles built on the AR platform, which happens to be the most popular rifle in America today.
Ultimately, the question must be raised: If gun prohibitionists are dishonest about something so easily challenged as deaths from “gun violence,” what else are they possibly fibbing about?