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.”

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The CDC is not an impartial entity

Here’s a collection of articles showing some of the problems with letting the CDC research “gun violence” – they cannot be trusted to be an impartial entity, and their results are used as excuses to restrict rights despite myriad flaws.

All emphasis added is mine –

Dr. Timothy Wheeler – Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership blog found here: http://www.drgo.us/

These medical researchers insist that what they call “gun violence” is a public health problem.  That they prefer the term “gun violence” is revealing of their mind set in approaching the problem, because it puts the emphasis on guns and not on the humans who misuse them.  This misleading public health terminology, enthusiastically repeated by fellow gun control advocates in the mainstream media, ignores the fact that almost none of America’s 80 to 100 million gun owners have any role whatsoever in the misuse of guns.  Normative gun ownership is foreign to most mainstream media personalities and to public health anti-gun rights advocates

His excellent “Public Health & Gun Control” series is found here –

Part 1 – http://www.drgo.us/?p=266

Part 2 – http://www.drgo.us/?p=285

Part 3 – http://www.drgo.us/?p=314

National Review – Reviving the CDC Factoid Factory:

Government-funded gun research was openly biased in the 1990s. CDC officials unabashedly supported gun bans, used CDC funds to advocate strict gun control, and poured millions of taxpayer dollars into funding “research” that was in fact advocacy — thinly disguised medical-journal hit pieces against gun ownership. Congress investigated and in 1997 forbade the use of CDC funds “to advocate or promote gun control.

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/346759/reviving-cdc%E2%80%99s-gun-factoid-factory

Forbes – Why The Centers For Disease Control Should Not Receive Gun Research Funding

There was a very good reason for the gun violence research funding ban. Virtually all of the scores of CDC-funded firearms studies conducted since 1985 had reached conclusions favoring stricter gun control.  This should have come as no surprise, given that ever since 1979, the official goal of the CDC’s parent agency, the U.S. Public Health Service, had been “…to reduce the number of handguns in private ownership”, starting with a 25% reduction by the turn of the century.”

Ten senators who strongly supported the CDC gun research funding ban put their reasons in writing: “This research is designed to, and is used to, promote a campaign to reduce lawful firearms ownership in America…Funding redundant research initiatives, particularly those which are driven by a social-policy agenda, simply does not make sense.”

Sociologist David Bordura and epidemiologist David Cowan characterized the public health literature on guns at that time as “advocacy based upon political beliefs rather than scientific fact”. Noting that The New England Journal of Medicine and theJournal of the American Medical Association were the main outlets for CDC-funded studies of firearms, they observed that “reports” with findings not advocating strict gun control were rarely cited.  Bordura and Cowan found that “little is cited from the criminological or sociological field”, and also that the articles that are cited “are almost always by medical or public health researchers.”

All too often, they witnessed that “assumptions are presented as fact:”… that there is a causal association between gun ownership and risk of violence, that this association is consistent across all demographic categories, and that additional legislation will reduce the prevalence of firearms and consequently reduce the incidence of violence.”  They concluded that “…incestuous and selective literature citations may be acceptable for political tracts, but they introduce a bias into scientific publications…Stating as fact associations which may be demonstrably false is not just unscientific, it is unprincipled.”

http://www.forbes.com/sites/larrybell/2013/02/12/why-the-centers-for-disease-control-should-not-receive-gun-research-funding/

Reason – The Problem With the ‘Public Health Research on Gun Violence’ That Obama Wants You to Pay For

http://reason.com/blog/2013/01/16/the-problem-with-the-public-health-resea

Public Health Pot Shots contains more complete quotes featured in the Forbes article above:

Contrary to this picture of dispassionate scientists under assault by the Neanderthal NRA and its know-nothing allies in Congress, serious scholars have been criticizing the CDC’s “public health” approach to gun research for years. In a presentation at the American Society of Criminology‘s 1994 meeting, for example, University of Illinois sociologist David Bordua and epidemiologist David Cowan called the public health literature on guns “advocacy based on political beliefs rather than scientific fact.” Bordua and Cowan noted that The New England Journal of Medicine and the Journal of the American Medical Association, the main outlets for CDC-funded studies of firearms, are consistent supporters of strict gun control. They found that “reports with findings not supporting the position of the journal are rarely cited,” “little is cited from the criminological or sociological field,” and the articles that are cited “are almost always by medical or public health researchers.”

Further, Bordua and Cowan said, “assumptions are presented as fact: that there is a causal association between gun ownership and the risk of violence, that this association is consistent across all demographic categories, and that additional legislation will reduce the prevalence of firearms and consequently reduce the incidence of violence.” They concluded that “[i]ncestuous and selective literature citations may be acceptable for political tracts, but they introduce an artificial bias into scientific publications. Stating as fact associations which may be demonstrably false is not just unscientific, it is unprincipled.” In a 1994 presentation to the Western Economics Association, State University of New York at Buffalo criminologist Lawrence Southwick compared public health firearm studies to popular articles produced by the gun lobby: “Generally the level of analysis done on each side is of a low quality. The papers published in the medical literature (which are uniformly anti-gun) are particularly poor science.”

Since 1985 the CDC has funded scores of firearm studies, all reaching conclusions that favor stricter gun control. But CDC officials insist they are not pursuing an anti-gun agenda. In a 1996 interview with the Times-Picayune, CDC spokeswoman Mary Fenley adamantly denied that the agency is “trying to eliminate guns.” In a 1991 letter to CDC critic Dr. David Stolinsky, the NCIPC’s Mark Rosenberg said “our scientific understanding of the role that firearms play in violent events is rudimentary.” He added in a subsequent letter, “There is a strong need for further scientific investigations of the relationships among firearms ownership, firearms regulations and the risk of firearm-related injury. This is an area that has not been given adequate scrutiny. Hopefully, by addressing these important and appropriate scientific issues we will eventually arrive at conclusions which support effective, preventive actions.”

Yet four years earlier, in a 1987 CDC report, Rosenberg thought the area adequately scrutinized, and his understanding sufficient, to urge confiscation of all firearms from “the general population,” claiming “8,600 homicides and 5,370 suicides could be avoided” each year. In 1993 Rolling Stone reported that 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.

http://reason.com/archives/1997/04/01/public-health-pot-shots

The Myth of firearms “accidents” and how common they are

Sure enough, a tragedy has occurred and the usual suspects have lined up with pitchforks and torches.

This garbage editorial by Michael Cohen is but one example

Earlier this month I wrote about an unimaginable tragedy — the death of two Oklahoma residents, one a young mother, shot in the head while changing her daughter’s diaper; the other a 23-year-old man, surrounded by his family as they admired a new rifle, which went off accidentally and killed him.What made both killings so horrible was that they were at the hands of children; two 3 year-old boys to be exact. In the mother’s case, she was struck down by her own son.Yet, only a few weeks later here we are again. Another young mother, Veronica Rutledge, this time shopping at a Walmart in Idaho. Her 2-year-old son finds a loaded gun in her purse, pulls the trigger and in the blink of an eye, she is gone — leaving behind a child whose life is forever shattered.
Notice how he acts like this sort of incident is commonplace.  Unfortunately, the statistics disagree with him:
Unintentional Firearm Deaths 

2012 Deaths: 548
2011 Deaths: 591
2010 Deaths: 606
2009 Deaths: 554
2008 Deaths: 592

Source: CDC WISQARS Database, Fatal Injury Reports

 

It should be noted that this isn’t deaths per 100,000 – this is the total number of unintentional firearms death for the entire population of the US, all age groups from <1 to 85.  Each year there are roughly 600 unintentional firearms deaths total.

Of course, when you narrow the scope down to minors, children 18 & under, the number of unintentional firearms deaths decreases even further.

Unintentional Firearm Deaths Ages <1 through 18:

2012: 94
2011: 124
2010: 114
2009: 96
2008: 110

So, now that this bit of dishonesty is cleared up, let’s get to the biggest problem of the article:

This goes to the issue of gun safety. Mandatory gun safes for homes with young children, gun locks, tougher penalties for parents who allow children to get access to a weapon, public education on the dangers of unsecured guns in the home — there are basic steps that will barely reduce the number of gun deaths in America but could potentially protect children from the consequences of this nation’s gun culture. They are also the kind of measures that every American — no matter where they stand on the issue of gun control — should be able to agree on.

This is the heart of the matter: it’s not about the gun safety, it’s about making firearms ownership as difficult and expensive as possible.   What is especially disgusting is that he’s calling for public education on firearms – not to teach people their proper use, but how they they are a danger.

Can you imagine the outrage and furious condemnation that would occur if firearms safety & education took place in schools?  They don’t want children to know how to safely handle a firearm to prevent injury – they just want indoctrination on how “dangerous” they are.  When you point out the utter failure of “abstinence only” education with regards to sex ed, however, they refuse to see the parallel.

Unintentional Firearms Injuries aren’t really a problem.

The NSSF released a handy PDF highlighting information on unintentional firearms injuries and fatalities:

Unintentional Firearms Fatalities Remain at Historically Low Levels
Data released by the National Safety Council demonstrates that unintentional firearms-related fatalities continue to remain at historically low levels. In fact, in the last two decades, the number of unintentional firearms-related fatalities has declined by 57 percent — from 1,409 unintentional fatalities
in 1992 to 600* in 2012.

Emphasis mine.  It should be noted that these 600 fatalities in 2012 are spread across all ages from <1 to 85

  • Firearms-related fatalities in the U.S. have been decreasing consistently since record keeping began in 1903 and dramatically in the last 20 years.
  • In the last 20 years (2002 – 2012), the number of unintentional firearms-related fatalities involving children 14 years of age and under has decreased by 73 percent.
  •  Unintentional firearms-related fatalities are substantially lower than the number of unintentional fatalities caused by many other forms of injury.
  • Firearms are involved in 1.4 percent of unintentional fatalities among children 14 years of age and under and
    are among the least likely causes of unintentional fatality.
  •  In the past 10 years, firearms-related fatalities in the home have dropped by 20 percent, and by 60 percent in the
    last 20 years.
  •  Firearms are involved in fewer than a ½-percent (0.43-percent) of all unintentional fatalities in the United
    States.
  •  Hunting is one of the safest activities in America.
  •  As firearms safety education programs have increased, the number of unintentional firearms-related fatalities
    have decreased.
  • Over the last decade, the rate of unintentional firearms-related fatalities has declined by 33 percent (from 0.3 in 2002 to 0.2* in 2012)

You can do a year-by-year total for fatalities by going to the CDC WISQARS database and selecting “Manner of fatality: Unintentional” and “Method: Firearm” and seeing the exact numbers for yourself.

Sourced from the NSSF: http://nssf.org/PDF/research/IIR_InjuryStatistics2014.pdf – mirrored here