Fox's Gutfeld Echoes Misleading GOP Talking Points To Claim Guns Are "Vitamin[s] Of Safety"
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Fox News co-host Greg Gutfeld echoed statistics used by a Republican congressman to suggest right-to-carry laws decrease violent crime -- but studies have shown no such correlation. Gutfeld also hyped the debunked claim that there are "2.5 million instances each year" in which a gun is used in self-defense.
Pundits and commentators have been discussing gun-related violence following NFL player Jovan Belcher's murder-suicide. NBC Sports' Bob Costas has been ridiculed by right-wing media for comments he made on the subject during a Sunday night football broadcast.
During a segment on The Five about Belcher's murder-suicide and Costas' comments, Gutfeld said:
GUTFELD: If you want to look at the FBI uniform crime report -- right-to-carry states, 30 percent have lowered their homicide rates. Forty-six percent -- lower assault and robbery. Overall, 22 percent violent [sic] rates gone down in right-to-carry. Basically, when you're not arming people, you're actually creating a health hazard. A gun is a vitamin of safety.
Gutfeld's statistics mirror those used by a Republican congressman in a House Judiciary Committee press release issued following the House's 2011 passage of a national right-to-carry bill. The press release quoted Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX):
[House Judiciary Committee] Chairman Smith: "The Second Amendment is a fundamental right to bear arms that should not be constrained by state boundary lines. This legislation enhances public safety and protects the right to bear arms under the Second Amendment.
"Studies show that carrying concealed weapons reduces violent crime rates by deterring would-be assailants and by allowing law-abiding citizens to defend themselves. Data from the FBI's Annual Uniform Crime Report shows that 'right-to-carry' states, or those that widely allow concealed carry, have 22% lower total violent crime rates, 30% lower murder rates, 46% lower robbery rates, and 12% lower aggravated assault rates, as compared to the rest of the country.
But studies show there is not actually a correlation between right-to-carry laws and lower violent crime rates. A 2011 PolitiFact post reported that "using the 2009 [FBI] data, we don't see any evidence that state gun laws correlate with violent crime rates one way or the other, at least not 'across the board.' "
And Gutfeld's claim that violent crimes have decreased by 22 percent in right-to carry states is misleading. As the FBI reported in 2011 -- and as Gutfeld's fellow co-host Bob Beckel later noted -- violent crimes have been decreasing across the U.S., not just in right-to-carry states. In fact, the FBI noted on its website, "[w]hen considering 5- and 10-year trends, the 2011 estimated violent crime total was 15.4 percent below the 2007 level and 15.5 percent below the 2002 level." The FBI page included this graphic:
During the Five segment, Gutfeld also claimed that there are "2.5 million instances each year in which someone uses a firearm for self-defense in this nation."
This claim, first pushed by criminologist Gary Kleck, has been debunked. According to injury prevention researcher David Hemenway, Kleck's claim "is an enormous overestimate." Writing in CHANCE, a magazine published by the American Statistical Association, Hemenway noted that "the 2.5 million figure requires us to believe that burglary victims use their guns in self-defense more than 100% of the time."