How gun control advocates play the mainstream media for suckers
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Time-after-time, the New York Times and other publications have repeated the same false claim that concealed handgun permit holders are dangerous.

This claim will continue to be made as debate heats up over reciprocity, which would allow concealed handgun permits to be used across states like driver’s licenses.

With 192 co-sponsors lined up for the reciprocity bill in the House and 36 in the Senate, Democrats are already threatening a filibuster.

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The Violence Policy Center (VPC), the source of these claims, asserts that in the 10 years from May 2007 to April 2017, U.S. concealed handgun permit holders were responsible for 969 nonself-defense gun deaths (with any type of weapon, not just handguns).

 

Of these deaths, 314 were suicides and 17 were the result of accidental shootings. In all, 324 permit holders purportedly killed people.

Looking at the VPC numbers for 2016, they claim that 26 permit holders supposedly committed 29 homicides. With over 15 million permit holders nationwide last year, those deaths amount to 0.2 homicides per 100,000 permit holders.

However, there is an arrest and investigation virtually anytime a permit holder uses a handgun in a public place. Almost all of the 2016 cases are listed as pending, and most of the defendants will be acquitted on account of self-defense.

The tally of 969 deaths is the result of triple and even quadruple counting. Michigan — by far the worst state according to VPC numbers — supposedly suffered 78 homicides and 390 suicides. Supposedly, Michigan was the site of over 40 percent of all deaths attributed to permit holders.

The main problem is that pending cases are counted in the same way as convictions. The Michigan State Police report the number of pending cases and convictions each year. 

But since most cases never result in a conviction and many cases can be listed as pending for two or three calendar years, this results in massive over counting. 

An additional 30 cases are added in, as a result of news stories. Apparently, no effort was made to check if these cases were already accounted for in the state police reports.

A case that ends in acquittal will, therefore, be counted four times if it is covered in a news story and is pending for three years. Over the past 10 years, 17 Michigan permit holders were convicted of homicide, not 78.

That comes to 1.7 cases per year, out of 560,000 permit holders in June 2016.

Michigan doesn’t collect information on how or where suicides took place, just that permit holders committed suicide. The Violence Policy Center just assumes that all of these suicides were committed with guns, and specifically with their own permitted concealed handguns outside their homes.

In any case, permit holders committed suicide at just 38 percent of the rate of the adult Michigan population as a whole.

Concealed handgun permit holders are also much more law-abiding than the rest of the population.

In fact, they are convicted at an even lower rate than police officers. According to a study in Police Quarterly, police committed an average of 703 crimes (113 firearms violations) annually from 2005-2007. 

This is likely to be an underestimate since some news reports may have been missed and not all police crimes receive media coverage.

With 683,396 full-time law enforcement employees nationwide in 2006, there were about 102 crimes by police per hundred thousand officers. 

Among the U.S. population as a whole, the crime rate was 37 times higher — 3,813 crimes per hundred thousand people.

Now let's look at permit holders.

Between January 1, 2015, and April 30, 2017, Florida revoked 958 concealed handgun permits for misdemeanors or felonies. This is an annual rate of 23.4 crimes per 100,000 permit holders — less than a fourth of the crime rate among officers.

In Texas, 108 permit holders were convicted of misdemeanors or felonies in 2015 — the last year for which data is available. 

This is a rate of 10.2 per 100,000, scarcely more than a tenth of the rate for police.

Among police, firearms violations occur at a rate of 6.9 per 100,000 officers. For Florida permit holders, the rate is only 0.31 per 100,000. Most of these violations were trivial offenses, such as forgetting one’s permit.

The data are similar in other states.

The media is doing an injustice by inaccurately reporting about an issue with such immediate relevance to public safety

Counting legitimate cases of self-defense as tragedies — sometimes three or four times — is clearly not legitimate.

If gun control advocates’ arguments were on solid ground, they wouldn't need to make up numbers.

 

John R. Lott, Jr. is the president of the Crime Prevention Research Center and the author of “The War on Guns.”


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