Editor’s note: The following article originally appeared on the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action homepage. It’s being syndicated below because it does a great job of deconstructing many of the false claims and specious arguments propagated by mainstream media “journalists.”
At the same time establishment newspapers are openly abandoning their usual façade of impartiality in their news coverage, their editorial boards have been working overtime to elect Hillary Clinton. However, few have been doing Robby Mook and David Brock’s work for them quite like the New York Times, as evidenced by a ridiculous pro-Clinton/anti-NRA screed that appeared in the August 14 edition of the paper.
Titled, “Donald Trump Courts the Gun Zealots,” the editorial is laden with hyperbole, unsupported claims, and outright falsehoods. Moreover, the Times’ decision to label NRA as “zealots” should strike many as ironic coming from a “news” outlet that used its front page to advocate the undeniably extreme position of confiscating Americans’ lawfully owned firearms.
As there may still be some under the misimpression that the Old Gray Lady contains “all the news that’s fit to print,” a handful of the editorial’s more outlandish passages should be addressed.
A quick myth/fact comparison:
NYT MYTH: [T]he epidemic of gun carnage that claims more than 30,000 lives in the United States each year…
FACT: This bit of sleight of hand comes directly out of the gun control lobby’s playbook and misleads the public into believing that gun homicides are far greater than they are.
Out of the 30,000 figure, two thirds of these deaths are attributable to suicide. While certainly unfortunate, the Times’ inclusion of these deaths in their purposefully incendiary term “gun carnage” gives the misleading impression to the unsuspecting reader that there are in excess of 30,000 homicides carried out with firearms each year. The Times is following the lead of gun control advocates that lump these self-inflicted injuries into the term “gun violence” in order to deceive the public as to the scale of homicides perpetrated with firearms.
Of course, in normal usage the terms “carnage” or “violence” give the impression of harm inflicted upon others. To illustrate the absurdity of how gun controllers and the Times use these terms, ask yourself if any reasonable individual would describe other leading methods of suicide as rope violence, blade violence, pill violence, water violence, car violence, or carbon monoxide violence.
While quick to use the term “epidemic,” the Times failed to properly contextualize this passage for the reader by explaining that according to the most recent available date, violent crime is at a 44-year low and the murder rate is at an all-time low.
NYT MYTH: [Clinton] offers a wide list of lifesaving proposals including restoration of the assault weapons ban…
FACT: The Times correctly pointed out Clinton’s support for the reinstatement of the 1994 ban on commonly-owned semi-automatic firearms, but fails to acknowledge that government-funded research found the ban to be ineffective rather than “lifesaving.”
In pointing out the difficulty of measuring any effect of the 1994 ban, a 1997 Department of Justice-funded study noted that prior to the ban, “the banned weapons and magazines were never used in more than a modest fraction of all gun murders.” A 2004 update to the study determined “we cannot clearly credit the ban with any of the nation’s recent drop in gun violence,” and, “Should it be renewed, the ban’s effects on gun violence are likely to be small at best and perhaps too small for reliable measurement. AWs were rarely used in gun crimes even before the ban.”
This point was reiterated in a 2013 Department of Justice National Institute of Justice memo, which noted, “Since assault weapons are not a major contributor to US gun homicide and the existing stock of guns is large, an assault weapon ban is unlikely to have an impact on gun violence.” The memo also made clear that even if the Times’ goal of confiscation was successfully carried out, “a complete elimination of assault weapons would not have a large impact on gun homicides.”
Further, aside from conjecture, there is little to support the notion that a ban on these types of firearms or certain types of magazines would have an effect on individual instances of violence. Following the 2007 shooting at Virginia Tech, then-Governor of Virginia and current Clinton vice-presidential running mate Tim Kaine formed the Virginia Tech Review Panel to study the tragedy. Addressing the topic of so-called “high capacity” magazines, the panel’s report stated, “The panel also considered whether the previous federal Assault Weapons Act of 1994 … would have made a difference in the April 16 incidents. The law lapsed after 10 years, in October 2004, and had banned clips or magazines with over 10 rounds. The panel concluded that 10-round magazines that were legal would have not made much difference in the incident.”
NYT MYTH: Research shows the folly of [NRA’s] “concealed carry” campaign to arm millions of ordinary citizens… Far from stopping mass shooters in their tracks, these gun owners have been shooting themselves, family members and others.
FACT: Here, the Times flippantly disparages the more than 13 million law-abiding Americans who choose to exercise their Right-to-Carry, based on a handful of accounts of permit holder misconduct.
In reality, permit holders, as a group, are extraordinarily law-abiding. We know this because certain jurisdictions make available a variety of statistics concerning Right-to-Carry permit holders, including the numbers of permits that have been revoked. Analysis of this data has repeatedly shown that that permit holders, on the whole, are more law-abiding than the general public. In fact, analysis of permit revocations from Florida and Texas conducted by economist John Lott found that Right-to-Carry permit holders are more law-abiding than law enforcement.
In making its derogatory claim, the Times cites Violence Policy Center and their flawed collection of instances where individuals who happen to have a Right-to-Carry permit have engaged in criminal behavior, or committed suicide. In VPC’s bizarre compilation of anecdotes, the wrongdoer’s criminal conduct often bears no relation whatsoever to their status as a permit holder.
Obviously, a Right-to-Carry permit would not be a factor in any instance where a person took their own life. VPC also lists incidents that took place in private residences, where a permit to carry a firearm would not be required. Other cases involve the use of long-guns unsuitable to be carried concealed, thus making the permit irrelevant. VPC even lists two incidents where an individual strangled their victim to death. Predictably, the Times chose to completely ignore the numerous documented instances where permit holders have defended themselves and other from criminal violence.
In a further bit of deception, the Times inaccurately described VPC as a “gun safety group,” in order to hide the organization’s fringe nature. While defining VPC simply as a gun control group would have sufficed, an even more accurate way to describe the organization would be to refer to them as handgun prohibitionists. Contrary to the moderation implied by “gun safety,” in a document titled “Cease Fire: a Comprehensive Strategy to Reduce Firearms Violence,” the group contended that “Handguns should be banned from future sale.”
NYT MYTH: Why can gun-show customers evade the federal background checks that other gun buyers must undergo?
FACT: Such evasion doesn’t take place. Contrary to the gun control lobby’s efforts to demonize gun shows, federal law pertaining to background checks is the same at gun shows as it is anywhere else.
Under federal law, gun show patrons are subject to the same background check requirements as any other gun buyer. However, a better way to understand this issue is that gun sellers are subject to the same federal requirements to conduct background checks regardless of location.
Federal law requires those who are “engaged in the business” of dealing firearms to acquire a Federal Firearms License and conduct background checks on those they sell to, whether the sale takes place at the dealer’s place of business or a gun show. A private individual who sometimes transfers firearms from his personal collection is not required to conduct background checks. This is true whether she is trading firearms with a friend or relative at private residence, transferring a firearm pursuant to a notice on her church bulletin board, or if she chooses to rent a table at a local gun show.
Whether or not a customer is required to undergo a background check is dependent upon who the customer is transacting with, not where a firearm transfer takes place.
Further, the Times’ emphasis on gun shows is misplaced, as gun shows are not a significant source of firearms for criminals. In 1997 and 2004 the Bureau of Justice Statistics surveyed state prison inmates about the source of the firearms they possessed at the time of their offense. In both surveys, less than 1 percent of inmates cited “gun show” as the source of their firearms.
NYT MYTH: Mr. Trump surely has views on whether firearm makers truly deserve blanket protection from damage lawsuits, an extraordinary shield enjoyed by no other industry.
FACT: The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) does not provide firearms manufacturers with blanket protection from liability suits. Further, the firearms industry is not the only industry to enjoy the type of protection the PLCAA affords.
The Times should know better than to traffic in this falsehood, considering this issue received significant attention during the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. In an October 2015 statement, which the Times appears to have dutifully parroted, Clinton incorrectly claimed that the gun industry is the “only business in America that is wholly protected from any kind of liability.” Clinton repeatedly used this issue to attack opponent Sen. Bernie Sanders, who espoused the reasonable position that firearms manufacturers should not be held responsible for the criminal acts of third parties.
In May, constitutional scholar and law professor David Kopel addressed Clinton’s inaccurate PLCAA statements with a comprehensive explanation of exact contours of the PLCAA. Further, Politifact managed to conduct a reasoned analysis of Clinton’s October 2015 claim and rated it false.
As Kopel made clear, the PLCAA merely prohibits lawsuits against gun makers for damages resulting from the third-party criminal misuse of their firearms. The PLCAA does not protect members of the gun industry from products liability suits for manufacturing or design defects, or certain types of negligent conduct. Moreover, this type of protection is not unique to the gun industry. Citing several legal scholars, the Politifact piece pointed out that federal law bars torts against vaccine manufacturers, and similarly limits suits against other industries.
NYT MYTH: Rejection of Mr. Trump at the ballot box would also mean a decisive vote against N.R.A. and the human destruction its agenda continues to inflict upon the nation.
FACT: Here the Times’ hyperbole hit a crescendo, and revealed just how out of touch these Manhattanites are from the average American. Despite the paper’s decades-long efforts, the public at large doesn’t agree with the Times’ deranged assessment of NRA and our mission.
An October 2015 Gallup poll asked respondents, “Is your opinion of the National Rifle Association very favorable, mostly favorable, mostly unfavorable or very unfavorable?” 58-percent of those polled answered either “very favorable” or “mostly favorable.” A June 2016 NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll sure to bristle the Times’ editorial staff found that NRA’s favorability well outpaced that of their beloved Clinton. NRA’s favorability was found to be 9 percentage points higher than the widely-untrusted candidate, while Clinton’s unfavorable numbers dwarfed NRA’s by 19 points.
As evidenced by the latest edition of a long-running Gallup poll, the American public’s trust in the media has been trending downwards, and currently rests at a “historical low.” Given the establishment press’ flagrant unwillingness to accurately report or comment on the 2016 presidential race, epitomized by the Times’ editorial and other similar poppycock, we have no doubt that this trend will continue apace.