Another head scratcher from the Washington Post: “How to protect gun rights while reducing the toll of gun violence”

WaPo churned out an editorial that had me shaking my head about the gall of the antigun movement.

The opening paragraph doesn’t hesitate, but rather leaps straight in to revisionist history:

Twenty years ago, one of us was director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, supporting research to build an evidence base to advance the science of gun-violence prevention. The other of us was a Republican representative from Arkansas determined to dismantle that effort because conservatives had concluded that it was aimed at gun control and not gun violence.

Well.  That’s one way to put it.

The two authors, Jay Dickey & Mark Rosenberg, are listed with the byline:

Jay Dickey, a Republican, represented Arkansas in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1993 to 2000. Mark Rosenberg, president and chief executive of the Task Force for Global Health, was director of the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 1994 to 1999.

Dickey was the the key figure behind the Dickey-Wicker Amendment that slapped the CDC on the wrist for their overt bias in antigun research; he apparently had a change of heart after Sandy Hook.  Rosenberg was the head of the CDC department that funded said research, and is by no means impartial, having been a supporter of outright confiscation.  This Reason article contains quotes from him, including:

Rosenberg “envisions a long term campaign, similar to [those concerning] tobacco use and auto safety, to convince Americans that guns are, first and foremost, a public health menace.” In 1994 he told The Washington Post, “We need to revolutionize the way we look at guns, like what we did with cigarettes. Now it [sic] is dirty, deadly, and banned.”

Oh yeah, I’m sure he’s completely changed his tune twenty years later. It’s not like he was quoted here in 2013 when talking about the CDC funding prohibition:

“It terrorized the bureaucracy and it terrorized the research community,” Rosenberg said of the episode. …

“I think they want to suppress information that doesn’t support their ideological position,” said Rosenberg, referring to the gun lobby.

Terrorized? That is strong wording it must be a fluke… oh wait, here’s one from a month prior.

Mark Rosenberg, former director of the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, had even stronger words. “The scientific community has been terrorized by the NRA,” Rosenberg said.

And here’s one from October 2012:

We’re being held hostage to firearm violence,” Rosenberg says, citing the NRA as the cause. “All of the science that could possibly give us answers is being stopped.”

Sure, he’s changed his tune, just listen to him:

When we met, at a congressional appropriations hearing in 1996, we fiercely opposed each other’s positions. But over years of communicating, we came to see that, while we had differences, we also shared values. We became colleagues, and we became friends. We have argued with each other and learned much from each other. We both belong to the National Rifle Association, and we both believe in the Second Amendment.

The problem with this statement is that the 2nd Amendment isn’t there to preserve duck hunting or single shot .22LR pistols.

The dishonesty continues just two paragraphs later:

Our nation does not have to choose between reducing gun-violence injuries and safeguarding gun ownership. Indeed, scientific research helped reduce the motor vehicle death rate in the United States and save hundreds of thousands of lives — all without getting rid of cars. For example, research led to the development of simple four-foot barricades dividing oncoming traffic that are preventing injuries and saving many lives. We can do the same with respect to firearm-related deaths, reducing their numbers while preserving the rights of gun owners.

Sure, we haven’t gotten rid of cars.  There’s also no organized movement to remove them, no “Moms Demand” for mass transit, no “Everytown” to get rid of sports cars. You can bet your ass though that when driverless cars are a viable option, they will be mandated.

You know what’s missing from this empty statement? An actual example supporting his claim.  You mention scientific research into cars and even a layman can list improvements that reduce accidents & fatalities: seatbelts, third brake lights, airbags, etc.  All of these, however, were privately developed by automobile companies and only later mandated in safety standards.

Strangely though, the authors can’t give a single example for research & development that would preserve firearms rights as he claims. Why is that?  Why have all of public health recommendations been “ban assault weapons” and “ban magazines” and “ban guns”?

If we are to be successful , those of us on opposite sides of this issue will have to do a better job of respecting, understanding and working with each other. In the area of firearms injuries, collaboration has a special meaning. It will require real partnership on the design of the research we do because while we often hear about “common-sense gun laws,” common sense is not enough to both keep us safe and to protect the Second Amendment.

And for some reason the “common sense” laws aren’t so much “common sense” as talking points that don’t bear up.  There’s no “respecting, understanding and working with each other” because one side has absolutely no interest in compromise or even rational thinking.  They just want a death by 1000 cuts approach until they can make sweeping bans.

There is urgency to our task. Both of us now believe strongly that federal funding for research into gun-violence prevention should be dramatically increased. But the language accompanying this appropriation should mirror the language already in the law: “No funds shall be used to advocate or promote gun control.” This prohibition can help to reassure supporters of the Second Amendment that the CDC will use the money for important research and not for gun-control advocacy. However, it is also important for all to understand that this wording does not constitute an outright ban on federal gun-violence prevention research. It is critical that the appropriation contain enough money to let science thrive and help us determine what works.

Overall, I’m not impressed with this plea for funding.  Sorry, Dr Rosenberg, but we’re way past the “once bitten, twice shy” stage. The funding prohibition against gun control advocacy already exists and yet antigun “researchers” simultaneously whine that there is a prohibition on research (through various articles & OpEds that fail to mention the CDC’s past activities) while churning out antigun studies funded by Bloomberg & Joyce.  Given these facts, why do you think we should not be suspicious that revisiting the issue and increasing funding will happen without

  1. The advocacy prohibition being stripped away
  2. A return to the previous shenanigans

It’s not like Wintermute, Hemenway, Kellerman or any of the others have changed their stripes.

If you have a plan on addressing “preventable” firearms deaths, you need to realize that suicide, homicide, and accidents are three distinctly different problems that require separate solutions. Come back when you have a proposal other than “Remove guns, problem solved.”


Who could have predicted that requiring a Doctor’s note would remove a Constitutional right?

The Honolulu Police Department is requiring a doctor’s note that many doctors are not willing to write.

A former service member tells us he’s followed all of HPD’s rules, but he’s stuck in a policy deadlock because his insurer won’t comply.

If you think this wasn’t by design, you are naive.

Reason asks why Democrats have difficulty with math when it comes to firearms

I love Reason’s articles so very, very much.  I can always count on them to be levelheaded when it comes to this topic:

This week, in an editorial titled “Don’t Blame Mental Illness for Gun Violence,” The New York Times noted that “less than 5 percent of gun homicides between 2001 and 2010 were committed by people with diagnoses of mental illness.” The week before last, in a front-page editorial titled “End the Gun Epidemic in America,” the Times urged Congress to ban “the slightly modified combat rifles used in California,” a.k.a. “assault weapons” (although the rifles used in the San Bernardino massacre did not qualify for that label under California law). FBI data indicate that rifles in general, which include many guns that are not considered “assault weapons,” were used in about 2 percent of homicides (and 3 percent of gun homicides) last year.

Why does the Times understand percentages when it comes to people with psychiatric diagnoses but not when it comes to people with guns? Probably because fear and loathing of firearms prevent its editorialists from thinking straight. But in light of these numbers, it seems quite unlikely that a ban on so-called assault weapons—even if it somehow eliminated the millions of “assault weapons” already in circulation, and even if murderers did not simply switch to other, equally lethal guns—would have a noticeable impact on gun violence, let alone that it would “end the gun epidemic in America.”

Why isn’t anyone else pointing out the double standards?  Why is it ok to paint gun owners with the broadest brush possible and use guilt-by-association tactics to imply we’re all mass murderers or borderline psychotics, while every effort is made to diminish any similar claims about other groups?

It’s shameful, but at least they are blatant.

Volokh explains “Why are gun rights supporters worried about bans on so-called assault weapons?”

Here Is a good article from Eugene Volokh.

But, some say, if assault weapons are so similar to other guns, what’s the big deal about banning them? Just like the minority of criminals that uses assault weapons can switch to the other guns (an argument that the bans will be futile), so law-abiding citizens can do the same (an argument that the bans won’t harm lawful self-defense). Why get so upset about it?

Let me offer a few explanations for why gun rights supporters are indeed so worried — you can agree with them or disagree with them, but I hope you at least conclude that they are plausible.

1. To begin with, some gun rights supporters just think that people should be free to choose what devices they own — whether self-defense devices or any other devices — unless there’s a very strong reason for restricting that liberty. If you think that a ban would save thousands of lives, that may qualify as a strong reason; but if you think that a ban would be ineffectual, then you can oppose it on basic liberty grounds.

While I understand the merits of this line of thought, compelling government interest (under strict scrutiny) is something that should always be viewed with suspicion and then only grudgingly given into after a thoroughly convincing argument.

2. Beyond this, as I’ve noted over the last two days — see the Violence Policy Center post and the Charles Krauthammer post — some supporters of gun bans have argued in favor of assault weapons bans precisely because they can help lead to broader bans (such as bans on handguns). If some of your opponents think a restriction is good because it will lead to something much broader, you might be forgiven for taking them at their word.

For many, point 2 is a major concern: we know the Slippery Slope is something that exists and not just a fallacy used to dismiss criticism.

3. Moreover, consider the political question as dynamic, rather than static. People are worried about mass shootings, or street crime, or whatever else. Many people say, “We’ve got to do something — let’s ban assault weapons.” Critics argue, “Assault weapons bans won’t do any good.” The response: “We’ve got to do something!” And then an assault weapons ban is enacted.

But mass shootings will keep on happening. Even assault weapons ban supporters agree with that; many mass shooters already use guns other than assault weapons, and even those who prefer those weapons will either keep getting them or will switch to other, comparably deadly, weapons. Assault weapons ban supporters believe that assault weapons bans will do a bit of good, not that they’ll eliminate or even vastly reduce mass shooting deaths. Assault weapons ban opponents believe the bans won’t reduce mass shooting deaths at all. No-one thinks the bans will solve the mass shooting problem.

We’ve seen this in California and New York, both of which continually have tightened restrictions with no end in sight.


The “US vs Developed World” fallacy

Gun control argument #102937: “The US has the highest gun death rate in the developed world!!!!”

Before someone even finishes the opening sentence of this argument, you know this is dubious science because they’ve already admitted they’ve cherry picked the data.

Much of the political thinking about violence in the United States comes from unfavorable comparisons between the United States and a series of cherry-picked countries with lower murder rates and with fewer guns per capita. We’ve all seen it many times. The United States, with a murder rate of approximately 5 per 100,000 is compared to a variety of Western and Central European countries (also sometimes Japan) with murder rates often below 1 per 100,000. This is, in turn, supposed to fill Americans with a sense of shame and illustrate that the United States should be regarded as some sort of pariah nation because of its murder rate.

Note, however, that these comparisons always employ a carefully selected list of countries, most of which are very unlike the United States. They are  countries that were settled long ago by the dominant ethnic group, they are ethnically non-diverse today, they are frequently very small countries (such as Norway, with a population of 5 million) with very locally based democracies (again, unlike the US with an immense population and far fewer representatives in government per voter). Politically, historically, and demographically, the US has little in common with Europe or Japan.

What I find particularly interesting about this article is that it mentions the issues with GDP comparisons:

Few people who repeat this mantra have any standard in their heads of what exactly is the “developed” world. They just repeat the phrase because they have learned to do so. They never acknowledge that when factors beyond per capita GDP are considered, it makes little sense to claim Sweden should be compared to the US, but not Argentina.  Such assertions ignore immense differences in culture, size, politics, history, demographics, or ethnic diversity. Comparisons with mono-ethnic Asian countries like Japan and Korea make even less sense.

And some blatantly dishonest nonsense from antigun editors with axes to grind who use OECD:

[M]any who use the “developed country” moniker often use the OECD members countries as a de facto list of the “true” developed countries. Of course, membership in the OECD is highly political and hardly based on any objective economic or cultural criteria.

But if you’re familiar with the OECD, you’ll immediately notice a problem with the list Fisher uses. Mexico is an OECD country. So why is Mexico not in this graph? Well, it’s pretty apparent that Mexico was left off the list because to do so would interfere with the point Fisher is trying to make. After all, Mexico — in spite of much more restrictive gun laws — has a murder rate many times larger than the US.

But Fisher has what he thinks is a good excuse for his manipulation here.  According to Fisher, the omission is because Mexico “has about triple the U.S. rate due in large part to the ongoing drug war.”

Oh, so every country that has drug war deaths is exempt? Well, then I guess we have to remove the US from the list.

Nobody is talking about “banning guns”… they just want to greatly limit ownership. And ban you from being one of the owners.

Remember when the common phrase was that “nobody is talking about banning guns” or that gun control was a political third rail?

Yeah about that.  The HuffPo, which rarely (if ever) is moderate on the firearms issue, published an article titled “Needed: Domestic Disarmament, Not ‘Gun Control’

Well at least they are being forthright about their intentions now, instead of beating about the bush.

Good progressive people may well respond that they must start with small, incremental measures, because the really big, effective ones do not have a prayer. But neither do the tiny ones, at least on the national level. The NRA will not yield an inch.

One needs no better evidence than to note that Congress just refused to ban people on the no-fly list, those strongly suspected of being terrorists, from buying guns legally in the U.S.! Moreover, the NRA is moving the needle in the opposite direction, getting more and more states to allow people to carry concealed weapons, in more and more places.

Most progressives seem unaware that whatever laws are finally enacted will have very little effect because the NRA and its allies in Congress have found powerful ways to prevent their enforcement. The Firearms Owners’ Protection Act of 1986 bans the ATF from inspecting gun dealers more than once in any 12-month period, even if violations are uncovered, and it reduces record-keeping violations from a felony to a misdemeanor offense, the result being that gun dealers are very rarely prosecuted.

There is nothing “good” or “progressive” denying people effective self defense and curtailing civil liberties in the name of security theater.  Using a secret government watchlist in order to do so should be anathema to any actual “good progressive” that isn’t a complete shill.

It’s not just the HuffPo either.  Besides the previously mentioned NYT’s front page editorial calling for an end to the gun “epidemic”, other people are bravely stepping forward to say that it’s time for us gun owners to give up our rights:

Samantha Paige Rosen opined:

As long as guns are in wide circulation, people who intend to harm will get hold of them.

Which explains why heroin, cocaine, meth and other drugs are completely eradicated from the country.

Daylin Leach writes that we should “Stand up to the NRA, pass commonsense gun-control” like “one gun a month” legislation, magazine capacity limits and more… ignoring that California has these exact laws in place and it did not stop the San Bernardino shooting.

He does have this correct though:

Guns have become the line in the sand. It doesn’t matter how reasonable or modest the restriction, there will be no compromise. Logic doesn’t matter. This is no longer a political issue. It is a theological issue.

He just doesn’t realize that he and his cohorts are the zealots who thump their gun control bibles while screaming that the heretical NRA must be burned at the stake.  The Wall Street Journal also noted this in their article “The Liberal Theology of Gun Control

Earlier this year I wondered if we were seeing the beginnings of a full court press on gun control.  Looks like I was right.

Yesterday House Democrats tried to push gun control over a dozen times, using the terror “watchlist”.   While trying to create a “gotcha” moment for the Republicans, this may backfire later when their attempts to eliminate due process are held against them in upcoming elections.

Wendy Davis unintentionally reveals what we already know: Politicians will deceive you about their antigun intentions.

Politico Magazine published an article this morning featuring former darling of the left, Wendy Davis – famous for her pink sneaker filibuster moment on abortion.

I am a lifelong Democrat. I proudly boast an “F” rating from the NRA. And, yet during my 2014 gubernatorial campaign in Texas, I supported the open carry of handguns in my state.

It is a position that haunts me.

Why would that position haunt her? Because she dared support the option for people to protect themselves? Because she tried to do right by her constituents? No.

It’s because she had to make a choice: take a stand and reveal what your actual positions are, or pander.  She chose to pander.  She’s proud of her antigun record and refuses to acknowledge that being antigun in Texas is not a popular position to take.

Against that backdrop, I chose to do something that was cleverer than it was wise. I decided to take a position in favor of open carry, one which would include the caveat that any property owner who wanted to opt out should be able to do so, whether it be a school, hospital or a private business. Understanding that most of these property owners would likely take advantage of an opt-out provision if the legislature were ever even to agree to pass such a diluted version of the law, I thought I could go forward with a clear conscience.

Such was the dictate I gave my team from the Denver airport. But, as I hurriedly finished the conversation before boarding the airport terminal train, I couldn’t shake the shameful feeling that I had just done something I had never done before—I had compromised my deeply held principles for the sake of political expediency.

This is incredibly illuminating because it says what we already know: Antigun politicians will say anything to get themselves elected.  Remember the mantra: “no one is coming for your guns” and how it is repeated ad nauseam?

She should have learned from her earlier experience with Texas gun politics as a Fort Worth councilwoman, but she didn’t:

When I discovered that Texas state law prohibited municipalities from enacting any ordinances regulating the sale of firearms, foreclosing my ability to pass an ordinance requiring universal background checks for gun sales in my city, I went a different route and sought instead to prohibit the continued use of our city facilities for these gun sales. (Fort Worth, like many cities, rents its exhibit halls for gun shows on a fairly regular basis.)

The public reaction to my proposal was swift and intense. Numerous letters and calls accusing me of violating the constitutional rights of gun owners and sellers flooded in. Angry protesters hurled unbridled insults my way, with heated accusations that I was trying to take their guns away from them. Even in the grocery story, I was confronted by an angry man, his face contorted and red as he screamed at me for trying to “take away his right” to own a gun. When I attended a gun show to see for myself just what went on there, two intimidating looking characters shadowed my every step, not at all happy to have me in attendance.

As you might guess, I lost that battle. My motion to pass the ordinance was tabled and it has been tabled ever since.

Of course, the lesson learned from this was not that she was out of touch with her constituents and their positions on the issue, but that she should try again, and just be more ‘clever’ as she phrased it.

She also didn’t learn her lesson during the battle for campus carry:

In 2008, when I was elected to be a Texas state senator, I became a key vote during three legislative sessions toward preventing the passage of a law that would allow guns to be carried on college campuses, a law that eventually passed in 2015 when I was no longer in office. I even came close to missing my youngest daughter’s college graduation ceremony in 2011 when the author of the bill refused the customary courtesy of delaying consideration of it in my absence. Thankfully, another colleague who supported the bill promised me his “no” vote on that day and I was able to watch my daughter walk across the stage.

This bill passed 24-7 which again shows that she doesn’t grasp the political realities of gun control in her state – her ulterior motive was to say anything in order to get elected.

In the end, there is no question in my mind that my decision to support open carry actually cost me votes that I otherwise would have had. As it should have. And I doubt that it gained me a single one.

But that’s not the point.

This ignores the political reality: pro-gun voters recognized her stance for the pandering it so obviously was.  Her “newfound” pro-gun stance came out when her biography was being criticized and questions were being asked about deception in her background. In fact, gun rights weren’t mentioned anywhere on her election website – even six months after her “support” for open carry.

It’s doubtful that anyone that was already going to vote for her changed their minds over her supporting open-carry. Who were they going to vote for instead, unabashedly pro-gun Abbot?  Of course not.  Davis had a solid antigun track record and her lamely attempting to “support” open carry was obviously a ploy – one that failed.

I was a long shot to win—I would have been the first Democrat in the governor’s seat since Ann Richards in 1994—and I know that. But I was still a contender in a high-profile gubernatorial race, and I had a unique power then that I might not ever have again: I had the chance to challenge people’s thinking about unbridled access to guns and whether, in this age of increased mass shootings, elected leaders are responsible for striking a better balance. Perhaps I even had the chance to change a few minds and to help shape the growing younger electorate’s thinking about how political candidates ought to position themselves on this issue. It’s the kind of opportunity that someone like me goes into politics hoping for. But when it was my turn to move something so divisive, and so important to me, out in front of voters, I did whatever I could to keep people from talking about it instead. I hid from it. I chose the exact opposite of what I knew I needed to do, because my strategy team—and ultimately I—was too afraid. If I had chosen differently, might I have moved the needle just a bit on this issue, even in a very conservative state like Texas?

Poor Wendy. It’s not her that’s wrong, it’s everyone else.  Shades of Principal Skinner