Rational people can change their minds

James Wright’s article about how he was wrong about gun control and why it is doomed to failure, from the 90’s.  The years change, but the song remains the same:



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.”

Antigun propaganda of the day: Brave New Film’s “The NRA vs Pediatricians • The REAL NRA • Part 1 • BRAVE NEW FILMS”

Brave New Films, a left wing video production group that regularly posts “documentaries” on YouTube, posted the following video today about how the NRA is a bunch of mean meanies trying to harm medicine:

The problem is that it’s extremely misleading. The “Docs vs Glocks” law came about after numerous doctors were reported asking political questions in their practices, including one doctor refusing to continue treating the patient if they refused to answer questions about firearms in the home. Doctors don’t have the right to discriminate against their patients due to their political beliefs. Some patients were told it was a Medicaid requirement to inform the doctors about gun ownership, others had parents separated from their kids so the physician could ask without the parents consent or knowledge. It’s the height of hypocrisy for them to complain about being gagged from pushing politics when they refuse to provide basic checkups for a patient simply because they don’t want to be given a lecture about how guns are evil.

Could you imagine the outcry if a physician refused treatment because they refused to answer when asked if the parents were gay, or muslim, or handed out pamphlets about the dangers of kids being in single parent homes?

Accidental firearms deaths total under 600 per year across all age ranges. Accidental firearms fatalities for children under 14 number less than 150 yearly. This is per the CDC WISQARS statistics. Meanwhile, medical malpractice kills anywhere between 180,000 – 440,000 people EVERY YEAR.

The Brady campaign filed suit against this law and won an injunction; that injunction was vacated upon appeal.  The text of the Federal judges decision can be read here: http://media.ca11.uscourts.gov/opinions/pub/files/201214009.pdf

The majority judges’ opinion:

The Act seeks to protect patients’ privacy by restricting irrelevant inquiry and record-keeping by physicians regarding firearms. The Act recognizes that when a patient enters a physician’s examination room, the patient is in a position of relative powerlessness. The patient must place his or her trust in the physician’s guidance, and submit to the physician’s authority. In order to protect patients, physicians have for millennia been subject to codes of conduct that define the practice of good medicine and affirm the responsibility physicians bear. In keeping with these traditional codes of conduct—which almost universally mandate respect for patient privacy—the Act simply acknowledges that the practice of good medicine does not require interrogation about irrelevant, private matters.

As such, we find that the Act is a legitimate regulation of professional conduct. The Act simply codifies that good medical care does not require inquiry or record-keeping regarding firearms when unnecessary to a patient’s care. It is uncontroversial that a state may police the boundaries of good medical practice by routinely subjecting physicians to malpractice liability or administrative discipline for all manner of activity that the state deems bad medicine, much of which necessarily involves physicians speaking to patients. Although the Act singles out a particular subset of physician activity as a trigger for discipline, this does little to alter the analysis. Any burden the Act places on physician speech is thus entirely incidental. Plaintiffs remain free—as physicians always have been—to assert their First Amendment rights as an affirmative defense in any actions brought against them. But we will not, by striking down the Act, effectively hand Plaintiffs a declaration that such a defense will be successful. Furthermore, when the Act is properly understood as a regulation of physician conduct intended to protect patient privacy and curtail abuses of the physician-patient relationship, it becomes readily apparent from the language of the Act the type of conduct the Act prohibits. Accordingly, we reverse the District Court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Plaintiffs, and vacate the injunction against enforcement of the Act.

This video is propaganda designed to allow antigun organizations to let antigun doctors to try to proselytize at their practice. This isn’t about free speech, it’s about anti gun special interests pushing politics in the place of medical care, and this has been upheld repeatedly on appeal. There’s a reason why the Brady campaign has been the lead on lawsuits fighting this legislation.

The AAP in particular is not “neutral” in this argument – they believe that no one should own a gun, and that standard sporting rifles should be banned. – In fact they go so far as to say “NEVER” have a gun in your home (and they capitalized the never)

Another day, another hit piece from Slate: “The Myth of the Good Guy With a Gun”

UPDATED: Kleck himself responded to this piece of garbage and it is a wonderful smackdown.

Looks like the antigun movement has found their anti-Lotts in  Evan DeFilippis and Devin Hughes, the two people behind the antigun blog “Armed With Reason”

On Jan 25, they vomited up their latest bit of propaganda, “The Myth of the Good Guy With a Gun – The NRA is wrong: Owning a gun is far more likely to harm you than protect you.”  This is naturally filed under Slate’s “Medical Examiner” section; not that either of the authors has any medical background.  No, it’d appear that their claim to fame is massaging statistics.

Their article starts by the every fashionable straw man attack on Wayne LaPierre, and then segue into their argument:

Tragically, a record number of Americans subscribe to some version of this mythology, with 63 percent (67 percent of men polled and 58 percent of women) believing that guns truly do make them safer. The public’s confidence in firearms, however, is woefully misguided: The evidence overwhelmingly shows that guns leave everybody less safe, including their owners.

What evidence is this? Why a menagerie of cherry picked statistics & studies of course.

A study from October 2013 analyzed data from 27 developed nations to examine the impact of firearm prevalence on the mortality rate. It found an extremely strong direct relationship between the number of firearms and firearm deaths. The paper concludes: “The current study debunks the widely quoted hypothesis that guns make a nation safer.” This finding is bolstered by several previous studies that have revealed a significant link between gun ownership and firearm-related deaths. This international comparison is especially harrowing for women andchildren, who die from gun violence in America at far higher rates than in other countries.

The first study in the above link is chock full of circular reasoning, but the summary results state:

Among the 27 developed countries, there was a significant positive correlation between guns per capita per country and the rate of firearm-related deaths (r = 0.80; P <.0001). In addition, there was a positive correlation (r = 0.52; P = .005) between mental illness burden in a country and firearm-related deaths. However, there was no significant correlation (P = .10) between guns per capita per country and crime rate (r = .33), or between mental illness and crime rate (r = 0.32; P = .11). In a linear regression model with firearm-related deaths as the dependent variable with gun ownership and mental illness as independent covariates, gun ownership was a significant predictor (P <.0001) of firearm-related deaths, whereas mental illness was of borderline significance (P = .05) only.

The study is behind a paywall but can be read here.

Gee, countries with more firearms have more firearms related deaths? That’s like saying countries with more cars are going to have more automobile related fatalities.

So let’s look to the meat of that study:

Do Guns Make a Nation Safer?
We then sought to evaluate whether possessing guns would make a nation safer, as has been a widespread contention. We used the crime rate per 100,000 population as an indicator of safety of the nation. There was no significant correlation (r = 0.33) between guns per capita per country and crime rate (P = .10), arguing against the notion of more guns translating into less crime

No significant correlation between guns per capita per country and crime rate, arguing against the notion of more guns translating into less crime.  No significant correlation also means that more guns doesn’t mean more crime.  If anything, this study shows number of firearms present has no real effect on how many crimes take place.  Presence of firearms has no effect on whether or not a country has more or less crime. Ooops.

Of course this isn’t addressed by study authors Bangalore & Messerli, much less DeFilippis & Hughes.

Digging down to the conclusion:

The present data suggest that the number of guns per capita per country correlated strongly and was an independent predictor of firearm-related deaths.  Additionally, in a linear regression model there was a correlation with mental illness, but this was of borderline significance in a multivariable model. Although correlation is not synonymous with causation, it seems conceivable that abundant gun availability facilitates firearm-related deaths. Conversely, high crime rates may instigate widespread anxiety and fear, thereby motivating people to arm themselves and give rise to increased gun ownership, which, in turn, increases availability. The resulting vicious cycle could, bit-by-bit, lead to the polarized status that is now the case with the US. Regardless of exact cause and effect, however, the current study debunks the widely quoted hypothesis purporting to show that countries with the higher gun ownership are safer than those with low gun ownership. (All emphasis mine.)

Hm, that’s a shocker, people in high crime areas might arm themselves to defend against attackers? What a surprise.

So already DeFillipis & Hughes have a problem – if anyone digs into their studies or examines the text critically, their argument doesn’t hold water.  Better follow their “science” with some tugging at the heart strings:

Behind such horrifying statistics are numerous heartbreaking tragedies, such as Zina Daniel, a woman from Illinois who was killed by her abusive ex-husband, or Caroline Sparks, who was only 2 when her 5-year-old brother accidentally killed her with his Crickett rifle.

While accidents are tragic, I’ve already addressed their infrequency in a previous blog entry found here – children 18 & under are rarely accidentally killed by firearms (with less than 100 fatalities in 2012).  No, the shameful part of DeFillipis & Hughes article conveniently ignore that firearms are used to defend wives against abusive husbands as well, such as when Robert Vann Marshall was shot and killed just minutes after being released from jail, trying to break into his wife’s house.

So next DeFillipis & Hughes have to establish that guns are the only reason why homicides are high:

If we examine data from within the United States, the odds aren’t any better for gun owners. The most recent study examining the relationship between firearms and homicide rates on a state level, published last April, found a significant positive relationship between gun ownership and overall homicide levels. Using data from 1981–2010 and the best firearm ownership proxy to date, the study found that for every 1 percent increase in gun ownership, there was a 1.1 percent increase in the firearm homicide rate and a 0.7 percent increase in the total homicide rate. This was after controlling for factors such as poverty, unemployment, income inequality, alcohol consumption, and nonhomicide violent crime. Further, the firearm ownership rate had no statistically significant impact on nonfirearm homicides, meaning there was no detectable substitution effect. That is, in the absence of guns, would-be criminals are not switching to knives or some other weapons to carry out homicide. These results are supported by a host of previous studies that illustrate that guns increase the rate of homicides.

Wait… didn’t the first study they reference state outright that they could not determine a correlation between firearms availability & crime?  Now here they are trying to say that firearms availability causes homicides.  Please note, the study they linked to is, again, behind a pay wall (can’t have people easily reading what you are citing, natch), so we can’t drill down to examine it.

But homicides aren’t enough, no, they have to address suicides too:

The evidence against firearm ownership becomes even stronger when suicides and accidents are included in the analysis—guns make both much more likely and more fatal. There can be nothing closer to a consensus in the gun debate than this point. Indeed, every single case-control study ever conducted in the United States has found that gun ownership is a strong risk factor for suicide, even after adjusting for aggregate-level measures of suicidality such as mental illness, alcoholism, poverty, and so on.

Again, note the word choice: “gun ownership is a strong risk factor for suicide” – not a cause, simply a risk factor.  Clearly the implication is that if there were less firearms, suicides would go down.

Unfortunately for DeFillipis & Hughes, the real world doesn’t agree with their contention.  Just look at this handy list of suicide rates by country on Wikipedia.  The United States has on average 12.5 suicides per 100,000 people.  Surely if there were less guns, there would be less suicides, right?

Wrong.  Look at Japan: 21.4 per 100,000.  Even worse, look at South Korea: 28.5 per 100,000.  Neither country has ready access to firearms.   Belgium has much stricter gun control than the US, but firearms are available there.  Surely their suicide rate must be lower than the US, right? Nope: 17.0 per 100k

Removing (or controlling) guns isn’t the miracle cure, sorry!

Moving on, DeFillipis try to downplay reasons for having a firearm for self defense, namely the threat of home invasion:

Suppose a criminal has just broken into your house brandishing a firearm. You need to protect yourself and your family. Wouldn’t anyone feel safer owning a gun? This is the kind of narrative propagated by gun advocates in defense of firearm ownership. It preys on our fear. Yet, the annual per capita risk of death during a home invasion is 0.0000002, which, for all intents and purposes, is zero.

Sure, the risk of death my be near zero, but there’s a wide spectrum between being killed by an attacker and not being injured at all.  The DOJ did a report based off the National Crime Victimization Survey titled “Victimization During Household Burglary” and guess what they found?

An estimated 3.7 million household burglaries occurred each year on average from 2003 to 2007. In about 28% of these burglaries, a household member was present during the burglary. In 7% of all household burglaries, a household member experienced some form of violent victimization.

Let’s do some simple math: 3.7 million *.07 = 259,000 people violently victimized each year.  This, unfortunately isn’t accurate, as the report cites:

A household member was present in roughly 1 million burglaries and became victims of violent crimes in 266,560 burglaries.

.  Breaking that down further, that’s 730 people violently victimized each day. And that’s just household burglaries.

Why don’t DeFillipis & Hughes want that sort of information addressed? Why do they focus strictly on people killed during home invasions?  Because they have a vested interest in making it look like having a firearm to defend yourself is a myth based on fantasy.  Well, not just fantasy:

This past November, Campbell was riding home in a car with her boyfriend after purchasing a gun, preparing for the unrest expected to follow the grand jury decision about whether to pursue criminal charges against the policeman who killed Michael Brown. She joked that “we’re ready for Ferguson,” waving the gun. Distracted, the boyfriend ran into the car ahead of them, and the gun fired, killing Campbell.

See the subtle attempt to paint firearms ownership as racist in nature too?  Also remember, the plural of anecdote isn’t data, guys.

So next they have to make the assertion that defensive gun uses don’t really happen that often:

However, despite the NRA’s mantra that there are millions of defensive gun uses every year, empirical data reveals that DGUs are actually extremely rare. Criminal uses of firearms far outnumber legal defensive uses. The evidence shows that there may be fewer than even 3,000 DGUs annually. In comparison, there are 30,000 gun deaths annually, and many more injuries and shattered lives. The costs of gun ownership unequivocally outweigh the benefits.

Sure, you can make that argument if you only count DGUs that end in a justifiable homicide.  If you notice, the above link goes to a politico article written by the same authors that tries to tear apart DGU methodology, calling it fantasy that someone wouldn’t report a DGU to police.  I find this uproarious, since there is no standard police reporting for non-crimes or crimes that were averted; cops may come out (if they have time) to take a report that someone tried to rob you, or tried to rape you, because that is useful information to them in trying to apprehend criminals.  If you do wound or kill an attacker, they certainly will take reports.  But if you scared them off without firing a shot? That information isn’t going to make it into any sort of official database or measurement metric.

The article closes with an “it could never happen to me” anecdote where they cherry pick an Open Carry advocate killed her husband and author; clearly firearms owners are crazy people, right?  Heck they even say that this sort of thing is the norm, not the exception:

Rather than gangbangers and maniacal criminals going on killing sprees, it is cases like Dunnachie’s that drive gun violence.

Let’ s see what the FBI says – Murder: Race and Sex of Victim by Race and Sex of Offender, 2011

Sure looks like it’s not women driving murders to me.  If we break it down by Age, Sex & Race the numbers don’t look any better for DeFillipis & Hughes.  In fact, it really looks like that the majority of murders are being perpetrated by men 17-34, and the data would seem to indicate that black men are more of them, not white women. Draw your own conclusions.

Finally in closing the authors try to tell you that you are less likely to be injured if you use a weapon other than a gun:

Yet a study examining data from the National Crime Victimization Survey found that people who used any weapon other than a gun for defense were less likely to be harmed than those who used a firearm.

I find it ironic that they cite a study authored by Kleck in 2004 as authoritative proof that guns aren’t reliable means of self defense when they spent the entire Politico article cited earlier disparaging him and his methodology. Again, the study they link is behind a paywall, however you can read it here.  Reading through the study, it would appear that Kleck’s conclusion is the exact opposite of what DeFillipis & Hughes state:

Even very large coefficients for protection variables were often not significant because of the action’s rarity. For example, based on their very large negative coefficients, attacking or threatening the offender with a gun appears to be almost totally effective in avoiding serious injury.  The estimates of their effects are not significant, however, because they were based on only forty-five sample cases of attacking with a gun and 202 of threatening with a gun, in a sample where serious injury after defensive action was almost nonexistent.

The conclusion of the Kleck study has this as well:

While there are exceptional situations, victim resistance is usually either successful or inconsequential, and on the rare occasions that it is harmful it is rarely seriously so. Therefore, unless there are circumstances that clearly indicate resistance will lead to significant harm, the evidence reported in this paper indicates that some for most resistance should be the path generally taken.

Hm.  Resistance works.  Imagine that.

Kleck goes on to say:

Various kinds of forceful victim protective behavior, such as threatening the offender with a gun or other weapon, show the strongest negative coefficients, though none are significant. […] Resistance with a gun appears to be the most effective in preventing serious injury, though this finding is not statistically significant due to the small number of reported gun uses.

None are significant? Most effective in preventing serious injury?  Why would DeFillipis & Hughes leave this out when saying that firearms aren’t a good choice for self defense?  Possibly because they are trying to lie through omission?  Again, draw your own conclusions.  Kleck also notes that NCVS data may be flawed as someone who successfully defends themselves with a gun may not consider themselves a victim of a violent crime, and if the respondent answers as such during the interview they will not be asked questions about what crimes they have experienced, how they resisted, etc.  This naturally skews the number of defensive gun uses down.

In summation, DeFillipis & Hughes seem to be arguing in bad faith when they make their statements, and rely on the casual reader to not scratch past the surface of their claims.  When examined critically, their arguments are quickly revealed to be based on partial truths, logical fallacies, distortions or other dishonesty, which is no surprise given the subject matter.

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.


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.”


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


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.


Skipping straight past Media Bias to full Indoctrination, Everytown offers “Workshop”

So it would appear that Everytown For Gun Safety is not satisfied with the current state of public opinion on gun control and has decided to flex their financial muscles by recruiting (indoctrinating) new allies to the fold by having a “workshop” where they can train willing participants in the best ways to manipulate public opinion.  In order to do this, they’ve teamed up with Columbia’s Journalism School:

Apply Now: Covering Gun Violence

Reporting on gun violence – on individual incidents, policy shifts and polarized political debate – is a major challenge for journalists and news organizations. Every day, 86 Americans die of firearm related injuries, including nearly 12,000 murdered with guns each year – a rate 20 times higher than that of other developed countries. Nearly 100 school shootings have occurred since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary only two years ago.

Yes, why should statistically infrequent and insignificant events be viewed as random & rare?  And why should we examine the underlying causes of these incidents, such as mental health issues, when there is a handy scapegoat available in the form of firearms?  Notice the use of the debunked “100 school shootings” figure to set the tone.

When it comes to reporting on guns, local and regional reporters bear the primary burden. They are often trapped into narrow deadline-driven beats with little time to develop expert sources, investigative angles or broader perspectives. And newsrooms and news managers are unprepared for the overwhelming, spasmodic tragedy of mass shootings. As a consequence, incidents of gun violence are too often viewed in isolation as random, inevitable tragedy rather than part of a wider phenomenon with complex causes but amenable to prevention efforts. (emphasis mine)

Translation: we need to do better to convince the masses that guns are bad.  Our best bet is to brainwash recruit willing participants into seeing the “truth” about the issues (or some facsimile thereof).

To help journalists and news organizations in the Southwest improve their reporting on guns and gun violence, the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma at Columbia Journalism School is organizing a two-day regional workshop April 17 and 18, 2015 for reporters, editors, news directors, photographers, producers, and bloggers. The workshop, funded by Everytown for Gun Safety, will offer independent expert briefings and specialized reporting skills training to enhance the practical ability of journalists to report on guns and gun violence knowledgeably, ethically and effectively. The workshop will cover such topics as state and federal gun laws; patterns of gun sales and gun trafficking; national trends and polling; education and prevention initiatives; social, economic and public health impacts; and special populations (e.g. children and youth, women and returning veterans.)

Uh-huh.  Sure.  I’m sure it will be “ethically” sound all right.  I’m sure that these “independent expert[s]” will be open to dissenting opinions & give both sides equal play.

The workshop will:

Serve as a forum for improving journalists’ knowledge of guns and gun violence, and the implications of public policies like background check requirements
Explore new research, reporting ideas and best practices with leading public health and policy experts
Confront challenges — and identify opportunities — that exist for local journalists pursuing these stories with limited resources
Provide practical tools to enable journalists to successfully produce meaningful stories on guns and gun violence.

In other words, it will be replete with talking points, bad science, soundbites and pretty graphs.  Actual knowledge like the difference between a fully automatic & semi automatic firearm will probably not be taught.  You can bet that there will be plenty of verbiage on why assault weapons, “high capacity” magazines and the like should be banned though… “for the children” naturally.

Make no mistake, since Everytown is headed by Shannon Watts, former PR wizard for Monsanto & GE Healthcare, this will be replete with the usual PR spin.

Naturally, this will cover old & new media:

Participation is open to reporters, editors, news directors, photographers and producers for print, broadcast and online media. Staff, contract and freelance journalists are eligible to apply. Thirty individuals will be selected for the workshop. Travel stipends of up to $350 for airfare or trainfare, and two nights of lodging, will be provided to 15 selected participants.

Because it’s easier to spread your ideas when you bribe people.

In order to ensure that only “right thinking” journalists attend, here’s some of the weeding out criteria:

To apply, please email Kate Black (kate.black@dartcenter.org) with your resume or CV, full contact information (name, address, city, state, zip, phone number and email address) and a one-page letter of interest that:

1. Describes how and why this workshop is relevant to you and your work;
2. Identifies three issues around guns or gun violence of particular interest to you;
3. Explains a challenge you have encountered in pursuing a story on this topic (or a related one); and
4. Briefly outlines a possible story you might pursue on the topic.

Hm, yes, let’s make sure that only properly screened acolytes may approach the altar.

Looks like I’m not the only person who sees a problem with this either: http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/cupp-educating-journalists-guns-article-1.2076455 – of course her opinion and mine diverge because she appears to be mollified by Columbia’s response, whereas I think that their gratuitous bias in the course description is more than enough to cast doubt on their intentions.

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.