24 Distortions About Guns From Wash. Times Editor Emily Miller's New Book
Research ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON
Washington Times senior opinion editor Emily Miller's new book, Emily Gets Her Gun: ...But Obama Wants to Take Yours, is filled with falsehoods about the gun debate and promotes the National Rifle Association's conspiracy theory that President Obama is planning to confiscate privately held firearms.
CLAIM: Obama Supported A Ban On Handguns While A Member Of The Illinois State Senate
Miller: "When Asked On A Candidate Questionnaire In 1996 If He Supported Legislation To 'Ban The Manufacture, Sale And Possession Of Handguns,' Obama Simply Answered, 'Yes.'" Miller alleges that Obama lied about his support for the Second Amendment in the 2012 election, citing his answer on a 1996 survey:
Obama knew that the 100 million gun owners in the United States could sink his election if they became aware of his true views on firearm ownership. So in the 2012 election he assured voters, "We're a nation that believes in the Second Amendment, and I believe in the Second Amendment." Gun owners were mocked as crazy and paranoid for fearing a second-term gun grab by Obama. Political analysts suggested that pro-gun leaders were trying to stir up fear to get out the vote for Mitt Romney. But in the end, everything the pro-gun groups predicted came true.
Back when Obama ran for the Illinois state senate, he didn't try to hide his anti-gun views. When asked on a candidate questionnaire in 1996 if he supported legislation to "ban the manufacture, sale and possession of handguns," Obama simply answered, "Yes." [Emily Gets Her Gun: ...But Obama Wants to Take Yours, pg. 16, 9/3/13]
REALITY: Survey Answer Not Reflective Of Obama's Views On Gun Regulation
PolitiFact: "Obama's Alleged Endorsement Of A Proposed State Law In 1996 Does Not Add Up To A Plan To Ban Handguns." According to PolitiFact, the survey response, which has also been cited by the National Rifle Association to claim that Obama supported a ban on handguns, was actually filled out by a campaign aide who mischaracterized Obama's stance on the issue. From the August 2008 article:
In 1996, as a candidate for the Illinois state Senate, Obama filled out a questionnaire for a community group called Independent Voters of Illinois-Independent Precinct Organization. It asked if the candidate supported state legislation to "ban the manufacture, sale and possession of handguns." Obama's answer: "Yes."
The Obama campaign claimed the questionnaire was filled out by a campaign aide who "unintentionally mischaracterize[d] his position" on gun control and other issues, even though Obama's writing was on another part of the questionnaire. (Tommy Vietor, a spokesman for Obama's campaign, said in an e-mailed statement to Politico, "He may have jotted some notes on the front page of the questionnaire at the meeting, but that doesn't change the fact that some answers didn't reflect his views.")
On a more recent questionnaire, he said, "A complete ban on handguns is not politically practicable," but reasonable restrictions should be imposed, according to the Associated Press.
Obama's alleged endorsement of a proposed state law in 1996 does not add up to a plan to ban handguns, particularly in light of evidence to the contrary that has accumulated since then. We find the NRA's claim to be False. [PolitiFact, 8/1/08]
CLAIM: Obama Wants To "Disarm The Populace And Have More Control Of The Citizens"
Miller Cites The NRA's Claim That Obama Will "Erase The Second Amendment From The Bill Of Rights." Miller cites a September 2011 speech by NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre -- where he notoriously revealed "a massive Obama conspiracy to deceive voters and hide his true intentions to destroy the Second Amendment" -- as evidence of Obama's agenda on firearms:
However, once he was elected president, Obama didn't push his gun control agenda in his first term. But Wayne LaPierre, the executive vice president and CEO of the National Rifle Association (NRA), warned gun owners for years that reelecting Obama would be dangerous to their rights.
"When he got elected, they concocted a scheme to stay away from the gun issue, lull gun owners to sleep, and play us for fools in 2012. Well, gun owners are not fools, and we are not fooled," LaPierre told activists at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Florida in September 2011. "We see the president's strategy crystal clear: get reelected, and with no other reelections to worry about, get busy dismantling and destroying our firearms freedom. Erase the Second Amendment from the Bill of Rights and exorcise it from the U.S. Constitution." [Emily Gets Her Gun: ...But Obama Wants to Take Yours, pg. 18, 9/3/13]
Miller: Obama's "Real Goal Is To Create A National Gun Registry To Have More Control Over Civilian Arms Possession. This Is Not Paranoia." [Emily Gets Her Gun: ...But Obama Wants to Take Yours, pg. 87, 9/3/13]
Miller: Obama Wants To "Disarm The Populace And Have More Control Of The Citizens." [Emily Gets Her Gun: ...But Obama Wants to Take Yours, pg. 128, 9/3/13]
REALITY: Obama's Post-Newtown Proposals Did Not Involve Confiscation Or A National Gun Registry
Obama Administration Did Not Propose Creation Of Registry Or Confiscation Of Firearms. The four cornerstones of the Obama administration's plan to reduce gun violence, released on January 16 in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, included expanding background checks on gun sales, prohibiting new purchases of assault weapons, improving school safety, and improving access to mental health services:
Most gun owners are responsible and law-abiding, and they use their guns safely. The President strongly believes that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms. But to better protect our children and our communities from tragic mass shootings like those in Newtown, Aurora, Oak Creek, and Tucson, there are four common-sense steps we can take right now.
The President's plan includes:
1. Closing background check loopholes to keep guns out of dangerous hands;
2. Banning military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and taking other common-sense steps to reduce gun violence;
3. Making schools safer; and
4. Increasing access to mental health services. [The White House, 1/16/13]
CLAIM: Obama Directed The Centers For Disease Control To "Promote Gun Control"
Miller: "Tyrant" Obama Is Allowing The CDC To "Spend Taxpayer's Money To Promote Gun Control." Miller wrote that an executive action taken by the Obama administration that encouraged Congress to provide $10 million in funding to the CDC to research the causes of gun violence meant that the CDC would be allowed to spend taxpayer money to "promote gun control":
Then Obama acted just like a tyrant by thumbing his nose at Congress and signing twenty-three executive actions for things such as once again allowing the Centers for Disease Control to spend taxpayers' money to promote gun control. He couldn't do it all himself, so Obama told Americans to call their representatives on Capitol Hill and demand his highest priorities -- "universal background checks" and bans on "assault weapons" and magazines over ten rounds. [Emily Gets Her Gun: ...But Obama Wants to Take Yours, pg. 27, 9/3/13]
REALITY: Obama Directed CDC To "Conduct Research On The Causes And Prevention Of Gun Violence," Not Conduct Advocacy
Obama Administration Plan: "Research On Gun Violence Is Not Advocacy." The Obama administration plan noted that the CDC cannot, under federal law, "advocate or promote gun control," but that it is permissible for the CDC to research the causes of gun violence as it is a critical public health issue:
There are approximately 30,000 firearm-related homicides and suicides a year, a number large enough to make clear this is a public health crisis. But for years, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and other scientific agencies have been barred by Congress from using funds to "advocate or promote gun control," and some members of Congress have claimed this prohibition also bans the CDC from conducting any research on the causes of gun violence. However, research on gun violence is not advocacy; it is critical public health research that gives all Americans information they need.
- Conduct research on the causes and prevention of gun violence, including links between video games, media images, and violence: The President is issuing a Presidential Memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control and scientific agencies to conduct research into the causes and prevention of gun violence. It is based on legal analysis that concludes such research is not prohibited by any appropriations language. The CDC will start immediately by assessing existing strategies for preventing gun violence and identifying the most pressing research questions, with the greatest potential public health impact. And the Administration is calling on Congress to provide $10 million for the CDC to conduct further research, including investigating the relationship between video games, media images, and violence. [The White House, 1/16/13, emphasis original]
NBC News: NRA Lobbying Chilled CDC Research Into Causes Of Gun Violence For Years. A January 16 NBC News article described how the NRA successfully lobbied for the CDC prohibition, which led to a stifling of research on gun violence even though the prohibition "did not specifically prohibit firearms research":
From the mid- 1980s to the mid-1990s, the CDC conducted original, peer-reviewed research into gun violence, including questions such as whether people who had guns in their homes gained protection from the weapons. (The answer, researchers found, was no. Homes with guns had a nearly three times greater risk of homicide and a nearly five times greater risk of suicide than those without, according to a 1993 study in the New England Journal of Medicine.)
But in 1996, the NRA, with the help of Congressional leaders, moved to suppress such information and to block future federal research into gun violence, Rosenberg said.
An amendment to an appropriations bill cut $2.6 million from the CDC's budget, exactly the amount the agency's injury prevention center had previously spent on gun research. The money was returned to the agency later, but targeted for brain injury trauma research instead.
In addition, the statute that governs CDC funding stipulated that none of the funds made available to the agency can be used in whole or in part "to advocate or promote gun control."
While that did not specifically prohibit firearms research, the language was ambiguous enough to alarm CDC officials and stifle scientists interested in gun data, said Stephen Teret, director for the Center for Law and the Public's Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. [NBCNews.com, 1/16/13]
CLAIM: True Assault Weapons Are Largely Unavailable To The Public
Miller: "A True Assault Weapon Is A Machine Gun Or Automatic Firearm That Continues To Fire As Long As The Trigger Is Pulled." Miller claimed that military-style semi-automatic rifles commonly called assault weapons are not real assault weapons because they employ a semi-automatic -- where each pull of the trigger fires a round -- rather than a fully automatic firing mechanism:
Politicians who talk about "assault" weapons are not using the term correctly when they are referring to modern semiautomatic sporting rifles that have cosmetic features that make them look like military arms.
A true assault weapon is a machine gun or automatic firearm that continues to fire as long as the trigger is pulled. They have been highly regulated for civilian ownership since the National Firearms Act of 1934. To get one legally, you have to pay a $200 tax and go through an extensive background check by the [Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives]. [Emily Gets Her Gun: ...But Obama Wants to Take Yours, pg. 39-40, 9/3/13]
REALITY: The Term "Assault Weapon" Was Invented By The Gun Industry To Sell Military-Style Semi-Automatic Firearms
Violence Policy Center: Gun Industry Invented "Modern Sporting Rifle" Term In 2009 To Replace Assault Weapon. From a June 2011 report from the Violence Policy Center:
In November 2009, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) announced that--"due to gun owners' concerns over President-elect Obama and possible legislation regulating the Second Amendment rights of Americans"--it had placed on its website a "media resource...to help clear up much of the confusion and misinformation about so-called 'assault weapons.'"
This was the opening salvo in the industry's meretricious campaign to "rebrand" semiautomatic assault weapons as "modern sporting rifles." The point of the campaign--inspired by the pummeling the industry gets for selling killing machines--is apparently that semiautomatic assault rifles are really just another sporting gun, no different from an older generation of bolt-action and low-capacity rifles. [Violence Policy Center, June 2011]
Gun Expert Duncan Long: Military-Style Semi-Automatic Firearms Are Assault Weapons. Long, the author of a technical book on the popular AR-15 platform assault weapon, explained in his 1986 guide Assault Pistols, Rifles and Submachine Guns, that a semi-automatic firearm was still an assault weapon if it had a pistol grip or accepted a high-capacity magazine:
The next problem arises if you make a semiauto-only model of one of these selective-fire rifles [a rifle with the ability to switch between automatic and semi-automatic fire, like the military's M-16]. According to the purists, an assault rifle has to be selective fire. Yet, if you think about it, it's a little hard to accept the idea that firearms with extended magazines, pistol grip stock, etc., cease to be assault rifles by changing a bit of metal. [Violence Policy Center, 1998]
Assault Weapons Manufacturer Colt: The AR-15 Is "The Civilian Version Of The Battle Proven And Recently Improved U.S. Military M-16A1." A 1985 Colt Industries advertisement for an AR-15, the platform for the assault weapons used in the Newtown school massacre and Aurora theater shooting, shows the weapon was designed to be the civilian version of a selective fire M16:
Survival means different things to different people. For a rancher in the high country of Wyoming, being self-sufficient can mean keeping varmints from his sheep. For a rugged individual in the wilderness, it means being prepared for any eventuality. For both these men, and thousands like them, there's only one gun. The Colt AR-15A2. The reasons are as simple as they are plentiful. First, it's the rifle they're already familiar with. The AR-15A2 Sporter II is the civilian version of the battle proven and recently improved U.S. military M-16A1... [Violence Policy Center, 1988]
Army Training Manual: Semi-Automatic Fire Is "The Most Important Firing Technique During Modern, Fast-Moving Combat." The Army's M-16 rifle marksmanship manual describes how effective combat most often requires "rapid semiautomatic fire," not fully-automatic firing. The standard issue Army rifle allows the operator to switch between semi-automatic mode and either three-round-burst or fully automatic mode:
The most important firing technique during modern, fast moving combat is rapid semiautomatic fire. Rapid-fire techniques are the key to hitting the short exposure, multiple, or moving targets described previously. If properly applied, rapid semiautomatic fire delivers a large volume of effective fire into a target area. The soldier intentionally fires a quick series of shots into the target area to assure a high probability of a hit.
When a soldier uses rapid semiautomatic fire properly, he sacrifices some accuracy to deliver a greater volume of effective fire to hit more targets. It is surprising how devastatingly accurate rapid fire can be. At ranges beyond 25 meters, rapid semiautomatic fire is superior to automatic fire in all measures (shots per target, trigger pulls per hit, and even time to hit).
Automatic or burst fire delivers the maximum amount of rounds to a target area. It should be trained only after the soldier has demonstrated expertise during slow and rapid semiautomatic fire. Automatic or burst fire involves the rapid application of the four fundamentals while delivering from one to three rounds per second into a designated area. This technique of fire allows a unit to place the most fire in a target area (when conserving ammunition is not a consideration). It is a specialized technique of delivering suppressive fire and may not apply to most combat engagements. [FM 3-22.9, Rifle Marksmanship M16A1, M16A2/3, M16A4 and M4 Carbine, accessed 9/4/13 via GlobalSecurity.org]
CLAIM: Assault Weapon Features Are Only "Cosmetic" And Do Not Change The Functionality Of The Firearm
Miller: Features Typical To Assault Weapons Do Not Change "How The Firearm Actually Functions." According to Miller, assault weapons bans are based on a weapon's "cosmetic" features:
What constitutes an "assault weapon" for legislative purposes depends on who writes the bill. The original "assault weapons" ban that was in effect from 1994 to 2004 said that a rifle with a detachable magazine was illegal if it has any two of these cosmetic features: a folding or telescoping stock, a pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon, a bayonet mount, a flash suppressor or threaded barrel designed to accommodate a flash suppressor, or a grenade launcher.
Not one of these features alters how the firearm actually functions. [Emily Gets Her Gun: ...But Obama Wants to Take Yours, pg. 42, 9/3/13]
REALITY: Assault Weapon Features Are Designed For Improved Performance
Miller Herself Acknowledged Pistol Grip Allows For "Better Control" Of Assault Weapon. In her book, Miller describes how the pistol grip, an assault weapon feature, makes a firearm easier to control:
I've shot several modern sporting rifles and standard shotguns, and the rifles are significantly easier for me to control. They are lighter, so I can hold them up to aim with the sights. The pistol grip on the bottom helps me to hold up the gun by using my left hand for better control. [Emily Gets Her Gun: ...But Obama Wants to Take Yours, pg. 49, 9/3/13]
Violence Policy Center: Assault Weapons Are "Designed For Laying Down A High Volume Of Fire Over A Wide Killing Zone." From a June 2011 report describing how assault weapons' features such as high-capacity magazines and a pistol grip improve the performance of a firearm:
The world's armies developed assault weapons to meet specific combat needs. All assault weapons -- military and civilian alike -- incorporate specific features that were designed for laying down a high volume of fire over a wide killing zone. This is sometimes known as "hosing down" an area. Civilian assault weapons feature the specific military design features that make spray-firing easy and distinguish assault weapons from traditional sporting firearms.
The most important of these design features are--
- High-capacity detachable ammunition magazines that hold as many as 75 rounds of ammunition.
- A rear pistol grip (handle), including so-called "thumbhole stocks" and magazines that function like pistol grips.
- A forward grip or barrel shroud. Forward grips (located under the barrel or the forward stock) give a shooter greater control over a weapon during firing. [Violence Policy Center, June 2011]
Mass Shootings Involving Assault Weapons Or High-Capacity Magazines That Occurred Between 2009 And 2013 Resulted In 57 Percent More Deaths Than Other Incidents. From a January 2013 report issued by Mayors Against Illegal Guns:
Assault weapons or high-capacity magazines were used in at least 13 of the  incidents (23%). These incidents resulted in an average of 14.8 total people shot - 135% more people shot than in other incidents (6.8) -- and 8.0 deaths -- 57% more deaths than in other incidents (5.1). [Mayors Against Illegal Guns, January 2013]
CLAIM: Survey Demonstrates Law Enforcement Opposition To Gun Violence Prevention Laws
Miller: PoliceOne Survey Revealed Widespread Opposition To Assault Weapons Ban Among Law Enforcement. Miller cited a March 2013 survey conducted by law enforcement website PoliceOne that found widespread opposition to limitations on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines:
PoliceOne did an extensive survey of fifteen thousand active and retired law enforcement officers across the country in March 2013. Almost 96 percent said that a ban on standard-capacity magazines [Miller's term for magazines that can accept 10 or more rounds] would not reduce violent crime. When asked what kind of effect a ban on "assault weapons" would have on crime, 71 percent said "none." Another 21 percent said such a ban on guns based on cosmetic appearance would make crime worsen. [Emily Gets Her Gun: ...But Obama Wants to Take Yours, pg. 45, 9/3/13]
Miller: PoliceOne Survey Indicated Law Enforcement Officers Do Not Believe Obama's Gun Agenda Would Make Them Safer. According to PoliceOne, 25 percent of officers said that Obama's plan, which involved expanding background checks, banning assault weapons, improving school safety, and improving mental health services, would put them in more danger:
That PoliceOne survey of fifteen thousand law enforcement officers asked what effect passage of the White House's proposed legislation would have on improving police officer safety. Sixty-one percent said no effect, while 25 percent said Obama's plan would actually put them in more danger. [Emily Gets Her Gun: ...But Obama Wants to Take Yours, pg. 70, 9/3/13]
Miller: PoliceOne Survey Found 80 Percent Of Police Officers Believe Expanding Background Checks Would Not Decrease Crime. Miller writes, "If you talk to cops dealing with serious crime problems, they oppose pasing laws for 'universal background checks' because it wastes their limited resources. Eighty percent said expanding the background checks would not decrease crime, according to the PoliceOne poll." [Emily Gets Her Gun: ...But Obama Wants to Take Yours, pg. 88, 9/3/13]
REALITY: Experts Say PoliceOne Survey Used Questionable Polling Methodology
Polling Experts Questioned Survey Because It Did Not Employ A Random Sample. Contacted by Media Matters, four academic polling experts questioned the methodology used by PoliceOne after the NRA began to promote the survey's results in April 2013:
Academic polling experts who Media Matters contacted said this approach [of not using a random sample] is questionable, because the self-selection of respondents can bias the sample. University of Michigan Professor Michael Traugott, for example, told Media Matters that "one issue that would be of particular concern is that the survey was completed by self-selected respondents," which the Public Opinion Quarterly editor said could have skewed the results.
Other experts highlighted that the survey examines only members of PoliceOne. "How representative of all police officers are PoliceOne's members to begin with?" said Columbia University professor Robert Shapiro, a co-author of award-winning books on public opinion research. "And how does the sample compare with all police officers demographically?" Temple University's Christopher Wlezian, another editor at Public Opinion Quarterly, likewise commented that the problem with the survey is "the fact that we don't know whether the sample of respondents is representative of the population of police officers."
"The ideal police survey would sample from all officers, not just members of any one organization," added Columbia University's Robert Erikson, a former editor of Political Analysis. [Media Matters, 4/17/13]
Slate: NRA Distorted PoliceOne Results To Claim 80 Percent Opposed Expanded Background Checks. An April 17 Slate article explained how the survey did not ask about the Obama administration proposal to expand background checks but instead asked about a hypothetical where private transfers of firearms were banned:
The NRA has a new ad up on the Web. On the home page of the Washington Post, it claims, "80% OF POLICE SAY BACKGROUND CHECKS WILL HAVE NO EFFECT ON VIOLENT CRIME." The ad video (which you can watch below) repeats this claim with matching audio: "Eighty percent of police say more background checks will have no effect."
But here's the poll, conducted by Police One. If you read the methodology posted at the bottom, you'll see that it isn't really a poll, since it wasn't conducted by random sampling. It was "promoted" to the site's members and was easy to flood with advocates of a particular viewpoint. (To give you some idea of how biased the sample is, 62 percent of those who participated in the poll say, in question 15, that if they were a sheriff or a chief of police, they would not enforce more restrictive gun laws.) But set that problem aside. The bigger problem, in terms of the NRA's ad, is that the poll never asks whether background checks will have an effect on violent crime.
So where does that [80 percent] figure come from? Only one question in the poll gets results that match that number. It's Question 7: "Do you think that a federal law prohibiting private, non-dealer transfers of firearms between individuals would reduce violent crime?" [Slate, 4/17/13]
Academic Survey Of Police Chiefs: 93.5 Percent Support For Background Check Requirement On Handgun Purchases. A 2006 article in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine included a random sampling of police chiefs nationwide and found strong support for gun violence prevention laws:
[American Journal of Preventive Medicine, April 2006]
CLAIM: There Is No Pattern To Type Of Weapon Used In Mass Shootings
Miller: "The Type Of Weapons Used At Mass Shootings Actually Varies." While discussing the effect that assault weapons bans would have on public mass shootings, Miller claimed that mass shooters did not always use assault weapons and that the weapon used typically varies:
[The 1994 assault weapons ban] hadn't stopped mass public shootings either. The Columbine High School shooting took place in the middle of the period when the ban was in effect.
The type of weapons used at mass shootings actually varies. In January 2011, Jared Loughner used a Glock 9mm pistol with a thirty-three-round magazine to shoot Representative Gabrielle Giffords and kill six people in Tucson, Arizona. In Colorado in July 2012, James Holmes allegedly brought a 12-guage Remington Model 870 shotgun, a Glock Model 22 .40-caliber pistol, and a Smith & Wesson M&P15 AR-15-style .223-caliber rifle to the movie theater.
At the shooting at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, in August 2012, Wade Michael Page killed six people using a Springfield XD(M) 9mm handgun. In September of that year, Andrew Engeldinger used a Glock semiautomatic pistol in 9mm, paired with a few loose rounds, to kill six people (including himself) at the Accent Signage Systems in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
In Newtown, Connecticut, Adam Lanza used a .223-caliber rifle manufactured by Bushmaster. The model was XM15-E2S, with a thirty-round magazine. The police recovered two handguns inside the school, a Glock 10mm and a Sig-Sauer P226 in 9mm. A 12-gauge shotgun, an Izhmash Canta-12, was found in his car in the parking lot. [Emily Gets Her Gun: ...But Obama Wants to Take Yours, pgs. 45-46, 9/3/13]
REALITY: Assault Weapons And High-Capacity Magazines Used In A Disproportionate Number Of Mass Shootings
Mother Jones: More Than One-Third Of Weapons Used In Mass Shootings Between 1982 And 2012 Were Assault Weapons And/Or High-Capacity Magazines. According to a Mother Jones study of the 143 weapons used in 62 mass shootings between 1982 and 2012, 48 would have been outlawed by a Senate proposal to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines:
[Mother Jones, accessed 9/04/13]
CLAIM: CDC Study Proves That Gun Violence Prevention Laws Are Ineffective
Miller Cites 2003 CDC Study That Found "Insufficient Evidence To Determine The Effectiveness Of Any Of The Firearms Laws Or Combination Of Laws Reviewed On Violent Outcomes." From Emily Gets Her Gun:
There has been only one extensive government research study on firearms laws in America. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) -- an agency with a known bias against guns -- looked at the various statutes from the local to national level. The two-year investigation evaluated the following laws: bans on specified firearms or ammunition (which includes the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban), restrictions on firearm acquisition, waiting periods for firearm acquisition, firearms registration and licensing of firearm owners, "shall issue" concealed weapon carry laws, child access prevention laws, and zero tolerance laws for firearms in schools.
The final 2003 CDC report concluded, "The Task Force found insufficient evidence to determine the effectiveness of any of the firearms laws or combinations of laws reviewed on violent outcomes." [Emily Gets Her Gun: ...But Obama Wants to Take Yours, pg. 47, 9/3/13]
Miller: CDC Study Proved Ban On High-Capacity Magazines Would Not Work. Miller writes, "Government studies have said a ban on standard magazines over a certain size won't make us safer. The CDC task force concluded that 'evidence was insufficient to determine the effectiveness' of the 'high-capacity magazine' ban." [Emily Gets Her Gun: ...But Obama Wants to Take Yours, pg. 65, 9/3/13]
REALITY: Miller Omits Critical CDC Explanation Of Survey Results
CDC: "Insufficient Evidence To Determine Effectiveness Should Not Be Interpreted As Evidence Of Ineffectiveness." The CDC report, which was a survey of preexisting firearms research, explained that it was unable to reach conclusions because of a lack of consensus among existing research. The report called for further research:
The body of evidence of effectiveness was characterized as strong, sufficient, or insufficient on the basis of the number of available studies, the suitability of study designs for evaluating effectiveness, the quality of execution of the studies, the consistency of the results, and the median effect size (12).
The Community Guide uses systematic reviews to evaluate the evidence of intervention effectiveness, and the Task Force makes recommendations based on the findings of these reviews. The strength of each recommendation is based on the strength of the evidence of effectiveness (i.e., the Task Force can recommend an intervention [or recommend against its use] on the basis of strong evidence of effectiveness or sufficient evidence of effectiveness** ). Other types of evidence can also affect a recommendation. For example, evidence that harms from an intervention outweigh improved outcomes might lead to a recommendation against use of the intervention. If interventions are found to be effective, they are evaluated for cost effectiveness by using economic evaluation guidelines developed for the Community Guide (15). Because none of the firearm laws reviewed was found to have sufficient evidence to draw conclusions regarding their effectiveness, no economic reviews were conducted.
A finding of insufficient evidence to determine effectiveness should not be interpreted as evidence of ineffectiveness but rather as an indicator that additional research is needed before an intervention can be evaluated for its effectiveness. [Centers for Disease Control, 2003]
CLAIM: Department Of Justice Memo Reveals Plan For Gun Registration And Confiscation
Miller: DOJ Memo Describes Plan By Obama Administration For Gun Confiscation. Miller wrote that a memo obtained by the NRA in January 2013 indicated that "[t]he 'assault weapons' ban is simply a means of confiscation":
The "assault weapons" ban is simply a means of confiscation. This is not a conspiracy theory.
The NRA's Institute for Legislative Action acquired a secret internal memo written by the Obama administration's Justice Department in January 2013 that sheds light on the real objective. The document concluded that a "complete elimination of assault weapons would not have a large impact on gun homicides."
However, the author, Deputy Director of the National Institute of Justice Greg Ridgeway, claimed, "If coupled with a gun buyback and no exemptions then it could be effective."
No exemptions means existing owners are not grandfathered in, so they would have to turn their guns over to the government. In other words: confiscation. [Emily Gets Her Gun: ...But Obama Wants to Take Yours, pg. 50-51, 9/3/13]
Miller: DOJ Memo Described National Gun Registry. Miller writes, "The secret Justice Department memo acquired by the NRA had said that broader 'universal background checks' could only possibly work if there was a national gun registry." [Emily Gets Her Gun: ...But Obama Wants to Take Yours, pg. 106, 9/3/13]
REALITY: Memo Was Not Official Policy And Its Recommendations Were Not Included In Obama Gun Violence Prevention Plan
Associated Press: Justice Department Says Memo Was "An Unfinished Review Of Gun Violence Research" And "Does Not Represent Administration Policy." [The Associated Press, 2/23/13]
Obama Administration Plan To Reduce Gun Violence Does Not Call For Registration Or Confiscation Of Firearms. [The White House, 1/16/13]
CLAIM: Obama-Backed Expanded Background Legislation That Would Create Gun Registry
Miller: Obama Trying To Build Support For National Gun Registry. Miller wrote that the Obama administration supports a plan to create a national firearms registry under the guise of "universal background checks":
"Universal background checks" are the "assault weapons" ban of 2013. The newly invented, vanilla-sounding term is ultimately designed to get public support for a national gun registry. Obama wants you to think that it is just common sense to close the "gun show loophole" in order to get the "universal background checks" that everyone is supposed to support -- even gun owners, according to the president.
As has been shown in the past, these proposals won't do anything to stop criminals because they don't get their guns through legal means. The only way a mandatory check would work would be if the government could track every one of the 300 million firearms in the United States and then criminals would ask permission before buying them.
Obama's proposal will, however, make it more difficult for law-abiding Americans to protect themselves and their families. That's why it's important to decode the anti-gun politicians' words to understand that their real goal has always been a national registry, so the government will know who has every single gun in this country. [Emily Gets Her Gun: ...But Obama Wants to Take Yours, pg. 79, 9/3/13]
REALITY: National Registry Is Illegal Under Current Law And Was Specifically Banned By Background Check Expansion Proposal
Since-Deleted NRA Article Describes The Laws That Make It Illegal To Create A Registry. From June 3, 2004, article on the NRA Institute for Legislative Action website:
The omnibus appropriations bill passed by the Senate in January contains several important reforms in federal gun laws to protect the privacy of people who lawfully exercise their constitutional rights. Most of the reforms undo abuses of federal power introduced in the Clinton era.
First, the bill--which passed the House in 2003 and was sponsored by Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.)--requires that federal records on lawful gun purchasers approved by the National Instant Check System (NICS) be destroyed within 24 hours. When Congress created the NICS in 1993, it added an amendment to require destruction of records on law-abiding gun owners: "No department, agency, officer, or employee of the United States may . . . use the system established under this section to establish any system for the registration of firearms (or) firearm owners . . . ."
The 1993 law reinforced the Firearms Owners' Protection Act of 1986 (FOPA), which prohibited the creation of a registry of gun owners. FOPA mandated that no "system of registration of firearms, firearms owners, or firearms transactions or dispositions be established." Thus, the new 2004 law brings the federal government into compliance with long-standing federal statutes. [NRA Institute for Legislative Action, 6/3/04, via Archive.org]
Obama-Backed Senate Background Check Legislative Proposal Would Have Created Criminal Penalty For Registry Creation. The leading proposal to expand background checks -- which was defeated in April after being filibustered by a largely Republican coalition of senators -- would have imposed up to a 15-year jail sentence on any attorney general who created a gun registry:
(c) Prohibition of National Gun Registry.-Section 923 of title 18, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following:
"(m) The Attorney General may not consolidate or centralize the records of the-
"(1) acquisition or disposition of firearms, or any portion thereof, maintained by-
"(A) a person with a valid, current license under this chapter;
"(B) an unlicensed transferor under section 922(t); or
"(2) possession or ownership of a firearm, maintained by any medical or health insurance entity.".
"(q) Improper Use of Storage of Records.-Any person who knowingly violates section 923(m) shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 15 years, or both.". [Pat Toomey, U.S. Senator For Pennsylvania, 4/11/13]
Senate Sponsor's Fact Sheet: "The Bill Will Not Create A National Registry; In Fact, It Explicitly Prohibits It." [Joe Manchin, United States Senator West Virginia, 4/10/13]
CLAIM: There Is No Evidence Of Illegal Gun Sales Online
Miller: "There Is Zero Evidence That The People Selling Guns Online Are Engaging In Illegal Sales." [Emily Gets Her Gun: ...But Obama Wants to Take Yours, pg. 105, 9/3/13]
REALITY: Investigation Found Majority Of Online Private Sellers Agreed To Illegal Gun Sales
NYC Undercover Investigation: 62 Percent Of Online Private Gun Sellers Said They Would Sell To Someone Who Probably Couldn't Pass A Background Check. In 2011, undercover investigators working for the City of New York posed as buyers on popular websites for private sales -- where no background check is required -- and found that 77 of 125 online sellers agreed to engage in an illegal sale:
- 62 percent of private gun sellers agreed to sell a firearm to a buyer who said he probably couldn't pass a background check.
- City investigators posing as illegal purchasers asked five of these sellers to meet in person and exchange the guns for cash. All five agreed. The investigators bought four handguns and a semi-automatic assault rifle while recording the transaction with hidden cameras.
- Private sellers on Craigslist had the highest failure rate - roughly 82 percent - even though the site has a policy prohibiting firearms listings. The City also investigated unlicensed sellers on Armslist (54% failure rate), Gunlistings (77% failure rate), KSL.com (67% failure rate) and Glocktalk (78% failure rate). [City of New York, December 2011]
New York Times Investigation Identified Felons Attempting To Buy And Sell Guns Online. Among the prohibited gun purchasers identified by the Times, one was a fugitive from justice who attempted to use the popular website Armslist to buy an AK-47 assault weapon:
The intentions and background of the prospective buyer were hidden, as is customary on such sites. The person posting these ads, however, left a phone number, enabling The New York Times to trace them to their source: Omar Roman-Martinez, 29, of Colorado Springs, who has a pair of felony convictions for burglary and another for motor vehicle theft, as well as a misdemeanor domestic violence conviction -- all of which bar him from having guns. Yet he was so determined he even offered to trade a tablet computer or a vintage Pepsi machine for firearms.
Besides Mr. Roman-Martinez, the Times investigation led to Gerard Toolin, 46, of Walterboro, S.C., who is a fugitive from the Rhode Island police and has two outstanding felony warrants as well as a misdemeanor warrant. His legal status bars him from owning guns, but he was recently seeking to buy an AK-47 assault rifle on Armslist and was also trying to trade a Marlin rifle. He posted photos to his Facebook account of an AK-47 he had already purchased, along with a variety of other guns.
There was also Martin Fee, who has a domestic battery conviction in Florida and other arrests and convictions in Florida and New Jersey, including for drug possession, burglary and larceny. He was selling a Chinese SKS rifle on the classified section of another Web site, BudsGunShop.com. [The New York Times, 4/17/13]
CLAIM: Ad In Favor Of Expanded Background Checks Demonstrated Unsafe Gun Handling Practices
Miller: Man In Mayors Against Illegal Guns Ad "Appears To Have His Finger On The Trigger As If Ready To Shoot." Miller speculated that a man in two TV ads who spoke in favor of expanded background checks may have been pointing the shotgun he was holding at an off-screen child and claimed that his finger was on the trigger of the gun:
When MAIG released the two ads, I was taken aback -- the man featured in both of them appeared to be breaking the most basic gun safety rules. Both commercials featured a man holding a shotgun, wearing plaid flannel with a camouflage cap, and sitting on the tailgate of a pickup truck. While a child swings on a tire in the background, the man says, "I support comprehensive background checks so criminals and the dangerously mentally ill can't buy guns."
But the man was setting a dangerous example to the millions of people who would see the ads, breaking the most basic safety rules I had learned that first day on the NRA range.
The first rule is always to keep the gun pointed in a safe direction. In the ad, there were children playing in the yard. Although the viewers can't see if there is a child to the side of the truck, the man on TV should be pointing the muzzle in the air or at the ground.
The second rule is always keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot. In the ironically titled ad "Responsibility," the man appears to have his finger on the trigger as if ready to shoot. [Emily Gets Her Gun: ...But Obama Wants to Take Yours, pg. 107, 9/3/13]
REALITY: The Man Did Not Have His Finger On The Trigger, Nor Did He Point His Gun At A Child
Claim That Man's Finger Is On Trigger Based On Mistaken Assumption About Where Trigger Is Located On The Gun. A Media Matters review of the two MAIG ads found that the man's trigger finger is outside of the trigger guard at all times:
[Media Matters, 3/26/13]
Rachel Maddow: Claim That Man Is Pointing Gun At Children "A Great Argument For The Blind People Who Watch Fox News Who Cannot Actually See The Ad Themselves." In March, Fox News repeated Miller's gun handling claims about the ad, which she had written about for The Washington Times. MSNBC host Rachel Maddow pushed back on the claim that the gun is being pointed at children, saying it instead shows that Fox News is "worried enough" about the ad to "lie" to its audience. From the March 28 edition of MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show:
[MSNBC, The Rachel Maddow Show, 3/28/13]
NRA Calls For Pointing Gun In Safe Direction Based On "Different Circumstances." While Miller claimed that the man in the ad should have been pointing the gun at the ground or in the air, "the fundamental NRA rules for safe gun handling" dictate that the firearm should be pointed in a direction that is safe under the current circumstances:
1. ALWAYS keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.
This is the primary rule of gun safety. A safe direction means that the gun is pointed so that even if it were to go off it would not cause injury or damage. The key to this rule is to control where the muzzle or front end of the barrel is pointed at all times. Common sense dictates the safest direction, depending on different circumstances. [National Rifle Association, accessed 9/4/13, emphasis original]
CLAIM: New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg "Controlled" Newtown Families Who Advocated For Obama's Gun Violence Prevention Plan
Miller: D.C. Itinerary For Family Member Of Gun Violence Victim Indicated Bloomberg "Controlled Their Every Move." Miller wrote that a schedule she saw while covering the debate over gun violence prevention proposals meant that Bloomberg, the co-chair of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, controlled victims of gun violence who were present:
Mayors Against Illegal Guns has a set group of victims and relatives of victims of high-profile mass shootings that it brings to Washington to stand behind politicians at press conferences and give media interviews. This group included parents of victims from Tucson, Aurora, Virginia Tech, and Newtown. Their faces became familiar to those of us who covered gun policy events in 2013.
At one event at the Capitol, I sat in a chair that had been used by one of these family members. On the chair was a minute-by-minute schedule for her time in Washington, including transportation to and from every event. It appeared that Bloomberg paid for their travel and controlled their every move. [Emily Gets Her Gun: ...But Obama Wants to Take Yours, pg. 108, 9/3/13]
REALITY: Newtown Families Advocated For Stronger Gun Laws Because They Supported Those Laws
Washington Post's Greg Sargent: "The Families Want To Stand With The President At Events For A Fairly Obvious Reason: Obama Is Fighting For The Same Things They Want." In an April 18 blog, Sargent also noted that "Sandy Hook families actually initiated contact with the White House":
As it happens, the idea that Obama and/or gun control advocates are "exploiting" the families and using them as "props" is not just silly; it's demonstrably misleading on the facts.
Sandy Hook families actually initiated contact with the White House, and not the other way around, according to Tim Makris, the executive director of Sandy Hook Promise, the group of families most active in lobbying Washington lawmakers on guns. Back in February the families contacted the White House "and said we wanted to meet with them," Makris told me. [The Washington Post, 4/18/13]
CLAIM: FactCheck.org Said NRA-Backed Legislation Would Have Strengthened The Background Check System
Miller: "The Nonpartisian FactCheck.org Agreed" That An NRA-Backed Alternative To The Obama-Backed Background Check Proposal "Would Strengthen Background Checks." [Emily Gets Her Gun: ...But Obama Wants to Take Yours, pg. 133, 9/3/13]
REALITY: FactCheck.org Presented Both Sides Of Argument Without Ruling On Legislation
FactCheck.org Did Not Make Judgment On Whether Bill Would Strengthen Background Check. Because the FactCheck.org article cited by Miller was determining the accuracy of a separate claim, it only described arguments by a GOP senator in favor of the bill and the argument by Mayors Against Illegal Guns that the bill would actually weaken the background check system:
Immediately after the [Obama-backed] Manchin-Toomey amendment failed, the Senate considered a Republican alternative proposed by Sens. Chuck Grassley and Ted Cruz. [Sen. Jeff] Flake supported that measure, which also failed to advance after a 52-48 vote.
Flake contends his support for that bill demonstrates his commitment to "strengthen" the background check system. Among the measures in the amendment, Flake's office noted:
- Includes more disqualifying mental health records -- or records that would prevent certain individuals from purchasing or owning a firearm -- in NICS (the National Instant Criminal Background Check System);
- Provides grants to states to facilitate adding disqualifying records to NICS;
- Includes more federal criminal records in the system;
- Increases penalties on criminals who try to circumvent background checks;
- Clarifies current law by making clear which mental health records states and federal agencies need to provide to NICS (language that Flake helped write);
- Cracks down on straw purchasing so criminals cannot avoid background checks through straw purchasers;
- Increases the penalty for lying to a licensed firearm dealer in order to circumvent background checks from 5 years to 10 years;
- Increases the penalty for anyone selling to a prohibited person from 10 years to 15 years;
- Requires Justice Department to prioritize prosecutions of gun crimes and provides additional resources for these prosecutions.
Mayors Against Illegal Guns contends the Grassley amendment -- which was supported by the National Rifle Association -- would actually weaken the background check system. Specifically, it says the bill would have: cut funding for state grants related to the background check system; removed the ban on gun ownership for people who have been involuntarily committed to mental hospitals unless that decision was made by a court (not just a doctor); and removed the ban on gun ownership for people found to lack the mental capacity to manage their affairs. [FactCheck.org, 5/24/13]
CLAIM: There Is No Evidence Gun Manufacturers Contribute Millions To NRA
Miller: "There Is Not A Shred Of Evidence That The Manufacturers Give The NRA 'Tens Of Millions Of Dollars.'" From a section of Miller's book that quotes from an opinion piece by Mark Kelly, the husband of former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords:
"Guns fly off the shelves after tragedies because [Wayne] LaPierre and the gun manufacturers he represents exploit people's fears. In return, gun manufacturers gave LaPierre and the NRA tens of millions of dollars last year alone." There is not a shred of evidence that the manufacturers give the NRA "tens of millions of dollars." [Emily Gets Her Gun: ...But Obama Wants to Take Yours, pg. 166, 9/3/13]
REALITY: Since 2005, The Gun Industry Has Given NRA Up To $38.9 Million
Violence Policy Center: Between 2005 And 2011, Gunmakers Gave The NRA Between $14.7 And $38.9 Million. In a 2011 report, the VPC noted that documents from an NRA corporate outreach program indicate that corporate interests, including gun manufacturers, gave the NRA up to $56.2 million:
The National Rifle Association (NRA) receives millions of dollars directly from domestic and foreign gun manufacturers and other members of the firearms industry through an organized corporate outreach program according to a new report issued today by the Violence Policy Center (VPC).
The report, Blood Money: How the Gun Industry Bankrolls the NRA, reveals that since 2005 contributions from gun industry "corporate partners" to the NRA total between $14.7 million and $38.9 million. Total donations to the NRA from all "corporate partners" -- both gun industry and non-gun industry -- for the same time period total between $19.8 million and $52.6 million. The vast majority of funds--74 percent--contributed to the NRA from "corporate partners" come from members of the firearms industry: companies involved in the manufacture or sale of firearms or shooting-related products. [Violence Policy Center, 4/13/11]
CLAIM: Sandy Hook Massacre Not Part Of A Rise In Mass Shootings
Miller: "The Sandy Hook Massacre Was Particularly Horrific Because The Victims Were Innocent School Children, But It Was A Rare Event, Not A Sign Of An Increase In Mass Shootings." [Emily Gets Her Gun: ...But Obama Wants to Take Yours, pg. 187, 9/3/13]
REALITY: Incidence Of Mass Shootings On The Rise Prior To Newtown
Mother Jones: Research Indicates A Spike In Mass Shooting Events In Recent Years. An April 11 Mother Jones article highlights the research of criminology professor Pete Blair, who found that the number of shootings where the perpetrator's primary motive was mass murder dramatically rose between 2000 and 2010:
The research, to be published in a book in July, confirms that:
- Public shooting rampages have spiked in particular over the last few years
- Many of the attackers were heavily armed
- None of the shootings was stopped by an ordinary citizen using a gun
The author of the study, Pete Blair, advises law enforcement officials and has conducted extensive research on gun rampages in workplaces, schools, and other public locations. He gathered data on 84 "active shooter events" (ASEs) between 2000 and 2010 in which the killer's primary motive appeared to be mass murder. This chart shows his findings on the frequency of cases:
Pete Blair, Texas State University
Notably, the jump in attacks in 2009 and 2010 was prior to the massacres in Tucson, Aurora, Oak Creek, Newtown, and numerous other locations during the last two years. Although Blair's research does not cover 2011 and 2012, he concludes that "our tracking indicates that the increased number of attacks continued in those years." As our own investigation showed, there were a record number of mass shootings in 2012. [Mother Jones, 4/11/13]
CLAIM: Guns Are Used To Prevent Violent Crimes Up To 2 Million Times Each Year
Miller: "About Thirty Thousand People Are Killed By Firearms A Year -- Two-Thirds Are Suicides -- While Guns Are Used To Prevent Crimes As Often As 2 Million Times A Year." [Emily Gets Her Gun: ...But Obama Wants to Take Yours, pg. 193, 9/3/13]
REALITY: The 2 Million Figure Has Been Discredited As A Vast Overestimation
Harvard Professor: Study Cited By Miller Is "An Enormous Overestimate." Criminologist Gary Kleck published the study cited by Miller -- which actually claims that up to 2.5 million defensive gun uses occur each year -- in 1995. As Harvard Injury Control Research Center Director David Hemenway explained in a 1997 report, the study found so many instances of defensive gun uses that more than 100 percent of burglary victims would have to use guns in self-defense for the figure to be accurate. From CHANCE magazine, a publication of the American Statistical Association:
All attempts at external validation of the 2.5 million figure show that it is an enormous overestimate (Hemenway, in press). For example, in 34% of the times a gun was used for self-defense, the offender was allegedly committing a burglary. In other words, guns were reportedly used by defenders for self-defense in approximately 845,000 burglaries. From sophisticated victimization surveys, however, we know that there were fewer than 6 million burglaries in the year of the survey and in only 22% of those cases was someone certainly at home (1.3 million burglaries). Since only 42% of U.S. households own firearms, and since victims in two thirds of the occupied dwellings were asleep, the 2.5 million figure requires us to believe that burglary victims use their guns in self-defense more than 100% of the time. [CHANCE, vol. 10, no. 3, 1997, emphasis added]
Harvard Injury Control Research Center: "Far More Survey Respondents Report Having Been Threatened Or Intimidated With A Gun Than Having Used A Gun To Protect Themselves." Unlike Kleck's research, a 2000 survey conducted by Hemenway and other Harvard Injury Control Research Center employees asked respondents to describe instances of both defensive gun use and gun victimization:
Even after excluding many reported firearm victimizations, far more survey respondents report having been threatened or intimidated with a gun than having used a gun to protect themselves. A majority of the reported self defense gun uses were rated as probably illegal by a majority of judges. This was so even under the assumption that the respondent had a permit to own and carry the gun, and that the respondent had described the event honestly. [Injury Prevention, 2000; 6:263-267]
CLAIM: Despite Lower Gun Death Rate, United Kingdom Has A Higher Rate Of Violent Crime Compared To The United States
Miller Approvingly Cites Claim That "While Britain Has Few Gun-Related Homicides, It Actually Has A Higher Violent Crime Rate Than The U.S." Miller praised Larry Pratt, the executive director of far-right Gun Owners of America, for challenging CNN host Piers Morgan's common citation of the fact that the United Kingdom has a far lower gun homicide rate compared to the United States:
There are a few exceptions to the rule of anti-gun bias in the media. The most powerful voices in support of the Second Amendment are TV anchors and gun owners Sean Hannity and Lou Dobbs of Fox News.
Of course the self-appointed czar of the anti-gun media is CNN's Piers Morgan. He likes to compare the U.S. to his home country, England, in gun deaths. Larry Pratt, the executive director of Gun Owners of America, appeared on Piers Morgan Tonight the week after Newtown. Pratt explained that while Britain has few gun-related homicides, it actually has a higher violent crime rate than the U.S. [Emily Gets Her Gun: ...But Obama Wants to Take Yours, pg. 193-4, 9/3/13]
REALITY: Experts Say Comparisons Between U.K. And U.S. Violent Crime Rates Are Impossible Because Of Different Crime Definitions
PolitiFact: Experts Say There Is "No Good Way To Compare Violent Crime Rates" Between U.S. And U.K. PolitiFact attempted to modify the definitions of crimes in the U.K. to match the definition used in the U.S. but was told by criminologists that there is no way to make an accurate comparison with available data:
Our rough effort to equalize the definitions improved the quality of the comparison, but what we did is not enough to fix the comparison entirely, said James Alan Fox, a criminologist at Northeastern University. "Once you get away from clearly defined terms like homicides, all kinds of problems come in," Fox said. "You have to take comparisons not just with a grain of salt but with the entire shaker."
For instance, the vast majority of violent crimes are aggravated assaults, and this is a category that isn't as well defined as homicides, rapes and robberies. Many aggravated assaults don't result in an injury, Fox said, and even police in the same country don't always use the same standard in counting this particular crime.
Another problem is that aggravated assaults, rapes and robberies are victim-reported crimes, so whether the crime gets reported varies widely, depending on such factors as the victim's trust in the police. This difference shows up in comparisons of FBI crime data, which consists of crimes reported to police, and the far higher rates of crime victimization found in a survey of Americans by the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics. The survey counts all crimes that respondents say they have experienced, not just those they reported to police.
The International Crime Victims Survey, conducted by an arm of the United Nations most recently in 2005, shows the difference between reported crime and all crimes committed by conducting polls that ask people if they've been victims of specific crimes. Polling data showed that England and Wales had 2,600 cases of robbery per 100,000 population and 8,100 cases of "assaults and threats" per 100,000. While those figures are even higher than the meme suggested, the U.S levels are also much higher -- 1,100 cases of robbery and 8,300 cases of assaults and threats per 100,000. And the rate of sexual assault is actually about 50 percent higher in the United States than it is in England and Wales. So this data set doesn't support the thrust of the meme, either. [PolitiFact, 6/21/13]
GunPolicy.org: Gun Homicide Rate Per 100,000 People Is 3.6 In The United States Compared To 0.06 In The United Kingdom, A Rate Approximately 60 Times Higher. From GunPolicy.org:
[GunPolicy.org, accessed 9/4/13]
CLAIM: .50 Caliber Sniper Rifles Have Not Been Linked To Crime
Miller: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie "Asked For And Got A Ban On The Barrett .50 Caliber Or Any Weapon Substantially Identical To It, Even Though These Types Of Firearms Have Not Been Linked To Crime." [Emily Gets Her Gun: ...But Obama Wants to Take Yours, pg. 222-223, 9/3/13]
REALITY: .50 Caliber Sniper Rifles, Including The Barrett Version, Have Been Used In Crimes And Have Been Sought By Mexican Drug Cartels
Violence Policy Center Collected 45 Examples Of The Use Of .50 Caliber Sniper Rifles In Crime. Among the incidents summarized by VPC:
- Jason Simione was arrested after trying to hire a hitman to kill his wife, her mother and brother. He also issued threats against President Obama. The arrest came after his wife accused Simione of abusing their nine-month old son. Simione is president of Bulldog Tactical Equipment, a supplier of "tactical and assault equipment" to the military and law enforcement. His wife as well as his employees said that Simione had recently "displayed paranoid behavior," and exhibited "violent outbursts." When police searched his Dania Beach, Florida home, they found 68 firearms, including a 50 caliber sniper rifle, 60,000 to 70,000 rounds of ammunition, and explosives materials.("Florida man with arsenal of weapons and explosives, including sniper rifle, arrested in murder-for-hire plot to kill wife: police," New York Daily News, August 14, 2013).
- Adam Wickizer said he was only trying to scare his ex-wife's boyfriend when he pulled the trigger on his 50 caliber rifle, but the bullet struck Christopher Hughes in the neck, killing him. Wickizer was charged with criminal homicide. ("Moosic man charged with homicide after fatal shooting of Pittston resident," The Citizens' Voice, March 19, 2013)
- In March 2008 a police officer in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico was killed with a 50 caliber sniper rifle. The gun's origin was linked to Phoenix, Arizona according to law enforcement officials. ("Top prosecutors in Ariz., Mexico target smuggling," Arizona Republic, March 14, 2008).
- In June of 2004, Marvin Heemeyer of Granby, Colorado, plowed a makeshift armored bulldozer into several buildings in response to a zoning dispute and fines for city code violations. Heemeyer armored his 60-ton bulldozer with two sheets of half-inch steel with a layer of concrete between them. He methodically drove the bulldozer through the town of Granby, damaging or leveling 13 buildings before taking his own life. Heemeyer mounted three rifles on the bulldozer, including a Barrett 82A1 50 caliber sniper rifle. ("Man who plowed armored bulldozer into seven buildings in Colorado is dead, authorities say," Associated Press, June 5, 2004; "Armored Dozer Was Bad to Go," Denver Rocky Mountain News, June 25, 2004) [Violence Policy Center, accessed 9/4/13]
CLAIM: Democratic New Jersey Lawmakers Were Caught On Tape Advocating Gun Confiscation
Miller Wrote That A Democratic State Senator Was Identified As The Person Saying "We Need A Bill That Was Going To Confiscate." Miller wrote about an audio recording from a May 9 New Jersey Senate Budget Committee hearing:
But the true intent of the New Jersey politicians was much more devious.
This was revealed by official audio recording of a Senate Budget Committee hearing on May 9 in which an informal discussion after a hearing was picked up by a hot microphone. Three women, reportedly Democratic senators on the committee, were heard talking after the conclusion of the hearing, and the Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs publicized the exchange.
"We needed a bill that was going to confiscate, confiscate, confiscate," said one woman. "They want to keep the guns out of the hands of the bad guys, but they don't have any regulations to do it."
"They don't care about the bad guys. All they want to do is have their little guns and do whatever they want with them," said another.
This is how gun-grabbers talk when they think we aren't listening. [Emily Gets Her Gun: ...But Obama Wants to Take Yours, pg. 223, 9/3/13]
REALITY: Local Reporting Could Not Identify The "Confiscate" Voice As One Of The Senators
New Jersey's Star-Ledger On "Confiscate" Comment: "It Is Not Clear Who Is Speaking Or If This Is What She Is Saying." From a May 10 article on NJ.com:
A recording of the exchange -- which appears to be between Democrats Loretta Weinberg, Sandra Cunningham and Linda Greenstein -- ended up on YouTube, and gun supporters said today they were upset by the remarks.
The recording opens with what sounds like a senator or staff member saying, "We needed a bill that was going to confiscate, confiscate, confiscate" -- although it is not clear who is speaking or if this is what she is saying. [NJ.com, 5/10/13]
PolitickerNJ: "Confiscate" Comment Made By An "Unknown Voice." From a May 10 post:
"We needed a bill that was going to confiscate, confiscate, confiscate," said an unknown voice.
Weinberg said she had no idea who said confiscate or in what context, or if it was even a lawmaker. The next voice, which is clearly Weinberg, said, "They want to keep the guns out of the hands of the bad guys, but they don't have any regulations to do it."
Asked who used the words "confiscate" on the recording, Weinberg said she has no idea. It could have been a staffer, she said, adding that she has no idea what microphone was still on or who it would have picked up in addition to the three senators.
"All I know is it's not my voice and I don't know who said it or in what context." [PolitickerNJ, 5/10/13]
CLAIM: The Supreme Court Ruled That Civilian Ownership Of Military Rifles Must Be Allowed Under The Second Amendment
Miller: District of Columbia v. Heller Ruling "Went On to Say That Even Military Weapons (Which Are Highly Regulated) Would Be Allowed." Miller wrote that Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) was wrong to say the landmark 2008 Supreme Court decision District of Columbia v. Heller held that "dangerous and unusual weapons," like those used by the military, could be banned for civilian ownership without violating the Second Amendment. Instead, Miller claimed that Heller endorsed the idea that civilian ownership of military weapons could not be banned without violating the Second Amendment:
Feinstein went on to say, "Justice Scalia, the author of that opinion wrote that, 'Dangerous and unusual weapons could be prohibited."" She stopped reading from the decision at that point because the rest of the passage didn't fit her argument.
The ruling went on to say that even military weapons (which are already highly regulated) would be allowed because "the conception of the militia at the time of the Second Amendment's ratification was the body of all citizens capable of military service, who would bring the sorts of lawful weapons that they possessed at home to militia duty. It may be well true today that a militia, to be as effective as militias in the eighteenth century, would require sophisticated arms that are highly unusual in society at large. Indeed, it may be true that no amount of small arms could be useful against modern day bombers and tanks." [Emily Gets Her Gun: ...But Obama Wants to Take Yours, pgs. 252-3, 9/3/13]
REALITY: That Section Of Heller Explains Why Military Weapons Can Be Banned For Civilian Ownership In A Manner Consistent With The Second Amendment
Heller Passage Cited By Miller Actually Supports Feinstein's Claim. A fuller citation from Heller demonstrates that Justice Scalia, writing for the majority, was actually describing how military weapons -- despite being the "most useful in military service" -- could still be banned in a way consistent with the Second Amendment because of the longstanding prohibition on the carrying of "dangerous and unusual weapons":
We also recognize another important limitation on the right to keep and carry arms. [Supreme Court decision United States v.] Miller said, as we have explained, that the sorts of weapons protected were those "in common use at the time." We think that limitation is fairly supported by the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of "dangerous and unusual weapons."
It may be objected that if weapons that are most useful in military service--M-16 rifles and the like--may be banned, then the Second Amendment right is completely detached from the prefatory clause. But as we have said, the conception of the militia at the time of the Second Amendment's ratification was the body of all citizens capable of military service, who would bring the sorts of lawful weapons that they possessed at home to militia duty. It may well be true today that a militia, to be as effective as militias in the 18th century, would require sophisticated arms that are highly unusual in society at large. Indeed, it may be true that no amount of small arms could be useful against modern-day bombers and tanks. But the fact that modern developments have limited the degree of fit between the prefatory clause and the protected right cannot change our interpretation of the right. [District of Columbia v. Heller, 6/26/08, internal citations omitted]
Federal Appeals Court Cited Same "Dangerous And Unusual" Section Of Heller In Upholding District Of Columbia's Assault Weapons Ban. Heller v. District of Columbia -- a post-District of Columbia v. Heller lawsuit commonly called Heller II -- was decided October 4, 2011, by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The court noted, "Heller suggests 'M-16 rifles and the like' may be banned because they are 'dangerous and unusual'":
Heller suggests "M-16 rifles and the like" may be banned because they are "dangerous and unusual," see 554 U.S. at 627. The Court had previously described the "AR-15" as "the civilian version of the military's M-16 rifle." Staples v. United States, 511 U.S. 600, 603 (1994). Although semiautomatic firearms, unlike automatic M-16s, fire "only one shot with each pull of the trigger," id. at 602 n.1, semiautomatics still fire almost as rapidly as automatics. See Testimony of Brian J. Siebel, Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, at 1 (Oct. 1, 2008) ("30-round magazine" of UZI "was emptied in slightly less than two seconds on full automatic, while the same magazine was emptied in just five seconds on semiautomatic"). Indeed, it is difficult to draw meaningful distinctions between the AR-15 and the M-16. [Heller v. District of Columbia, 10/4/11]
CLAIM: The United Nations Arms Trade Treaty Could Eliminate The Right To Keep And Bear Arms
Miller: Obama "Is Aiming At Restricting Gun Rights By Supporting The United Nations Arms Trade Treaty." Miller claimed that the ATT, a treaty designed to stem the flow of weapons to human rights abusers, poses a threat to gun rights in the United States:
While Obama bides his time on gun control legislation on Capitol Hill, he is aiming at restricting gun rights by supporting the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty. This treaty is intended to regulate the dangerous global arms trade, but also covers civilian firearms under "small arms and light weapons." And it does not include a provision making clear that individuals have the inherent right to keep and bear arms.
The president's signature alone could give the international community the false impression that Americans are ceding their right to keep and bear arms. [Emily Gets Her Gun: ...But Obama Wants to Take Yours, pgs. 270-271, 9/3/13]
REALITY: A Treaty Cannot Change Gun Rights In The United States Because All Treaties Are Inferior To The U.S. Constitution
Preamble Of ATT "Reaffirm[s] The Sovereign Right Of Any State To Regulate And Control Conventional Arms Exclusively Within Its Territory, Pursuant To Its Own Legal Or Constitutional System." [United Nations, accessed 9/4/13, emphasis original]
Congressional Research Service: "A Ratified Self-Executing Treaty" Is "Inferior To The Constitution." CRS cited the Supreme Court decision Reid v. Covert which stated, "It would be manifestly contrary to the objectives of those who created the Constitution, as well as those who were responsible for the Bill of Rights-let alone alien to our entire constitutional history and tradition-to construe [the Supremacy Clause] as permitting the United States to exercise power under an international agreement without observing constitutional prohibitions." [Congressional Research Service, 3/1/13, fn. 43]
American Bar Association: "ATT Is Consistent With The Second Amendment, As That Provision Has Been Construed To Date By The Federal Courts, Including The Supreme Court, Of The United States." [American Bar Association, 2/26/13]
CLAIM: With One Exception, All Recent Mass Shootings Have Occurred In "Gun-Free Zones"
Miller: "All The Recent Mass Shootings" Except Tucson "Occurred In Places Where The Law-Abiding Were Disarmed." Miller wrote, "The other way to make people safer -- schoolchildren in particular -- is to eliminate gun-free zones":
The other way to make people safer -- schoolchildren in particular -- is to eliminate gun-free zones. While it's impossible to know what goes through the deranged minds of mass murderers, all the recent mass shootings -- with the single exception of the attack on Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson -- occurred in places where the law-abiding are disarmed.
For the same reason, some of the devastating injuries and deaths might have been averted in Aurora. "In that movie theater, everyone was sitting there totally helpless. And this guy is just popping them off one after another," Donald Trump told me. [Emily Gets Her Gun: ...But Obama Wants to Take Yours, pgs. 272-3, 9/3/13]
REALITY: Most Recent Mass Shootings Have Occurred Where It Is Legal To Carry A Gun
Mayors Against Illegal Guns: No More Than 23 Percent Of Mass Shootings Between January 2009 And January 2013 Occurred In Gun-Free Zones. The analysis by MAIG found that no more than 13 of 56 incidents occurred where guns were prohibited:
Thirty-two of the 56 incidents (56%) took place wholly in private residences. Of the 24 incidents in public spaces, at least 11 took place wholly or in part where concealed guns could be lawfully carried. All told, no more than 13 of the shootings (23%) took place entirely in public spaces that were so-called "gun-free zones." [Mayors Against Illegal Guns, January 2013]
CLAIM: More Permissive Laws For Carrying Concealed Weapons In Public Would Reduce Crime
Miller: America Would Be Safer If We Had "More Law-Abiding Gun Owners Carrying Handguns." Miller advocated for the passage of legislation that would require states to recognize concealed carry permits issued by other states:
In addition to eliminating the criminals' playground of gun-free zones, another thing that would make America safer would be to have more law-abiding gun owners carrying handguns. It's just common sense that a criminal is less likely to attack a person he thinks might have a gun. It's a deterrent. The Senate should pass the national concealed-carry reciprocity bill the House passed, so that law-abiding people who have handgun permits issued in their own states can travel the country legally with their handguns. [Emily Gets Her Gun: ...But Obama Wants to Take Yours, pg. 275, 9/3/13]
REALITY: Looser Concealed Carry Laws Linked To Increase In Aggravated Assaults
John Hopkins Center For Gun Policy And Research: Concealed Carry Laws Most Consistently Linked To Increase In Aggravated Assault. An October 2012 report that surveyed research on the effect of loosening concealed carry laws found that enacting such a policy was associated with a one to nine percent increase in aggravated assaults:
A large body of research has been conducted to investigate the effect of RTC [right to carry] laws on violence. Most notably, research led by John Lott, Jr. suggests that RTC laws have led to significant reductions in violent crime. But the research showing crime-reducing effects of RTC laws, including Lott's, has been carefully reviewed by a National Council of Research panel of experts, and others, and has been found to have serious flaws. The most consistent finding across studies which correct for these flaws is that RTC laws are associated with an increase in aggravated assaults. Using various statistical methods, estimates range from a one to nine percent increase in aggravated assaults as a result of RTC laws. [John Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, 10/25/12]