Here’s a story for you.
Middle-aged “suburban dads” pretend they’re Navy SEALS by purchasing “high caliber” handguns. Those dads subsequently sell those “high-caliber” handguns at gun shows to illegal gun runners. Those gun runners “flood” the streets of cities across the country with those “high-caliber” handguns, and more people die because “high caliber” handguns are more lethal than .22s.
Sound plausible? I didn’t think so either, but that’s exactly the story The Trace wants its readers to believe.
The Trace—an “independent, nonprofit and nonpartisan news organization” funded by the Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund (ha!)—ran an article this week linking the prevalence of 9mm and .45 caliber handguns to a supposed rise in firearm lethality.
The article, titled, “America’s Obsession with Powerful Handguns is Giving Criminals Deadlier Tools,” contains a shocking amount of misdirection, so you have to cut through unnecessary descriptions of gunshot wounds and concealed carry law to get to the meat of their argument.
It boils down to two sets of statistics.
First, the authors cite a data set they “obtained” from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives that indicates a rise in the number of 9mm and .45 caliber handguns recovered from crime scenes. The Trace doesn’t reveal the locations of those crime scenes or the size of the data set. They also (conveniently) don’t provide a link or PDF document to the data itself.
They simply say that “police” have been recovering more “high caliber” handguns over the past few years. The reader, apparently, is to assume these numbers come from police departments all across the country, but the article never actually specifies.
But for the sake of argument let’s say their data is legitimate.
Their next set of hard evidence is meant to convince readers that the increasing prevalence of “high caliber” handguns is resulting in more lethal shootings (i.e., more people are dying from gunshot wounds than in previous years).
The article cites two studies. The first was conducted at Denver Medical Center from 2000-2013 and found that the number people admitted to the emergency room for gunshots who died from their wounds increased by six percent every two years.
The second study was conducted by the Baltimore Sun and found that one in three shooting victims now die in the city, up from one in four a decade ago.
That’s it. Based on this evidence cherry-picked from two random cities, The Trace wants its readers to believe that more people are dying from gunshot wounds, and middle-aged “suburban dads” with Glock 19’s are to blame.
Here’s a statistic for the folks at The Trace: from 1993 to 2014, firearm-related homicides have dropped by more than half (7 – 3.4 per 100,000 people). That statistic truly describes the state of “gun crime” in the United States, but does it get even the briefest of mentions in The Trace’s article? Nope.
The anti-gun industry is grasping at straws. They know it; we know it. And articles like this only serve to emphasize the fact that they don’t have a leg to stand on.