Ryan McMaken, writing at Mises.org (via LRC), correctly notes that the gun grabbers have been a little quite this election season. They’re still there – like a fly, not in your face but resting nearby. Resting and preparing the next annoying sortie. The two major candidates have both quietly voiced some support for the Second Amendment while, at the same time, supporting “soft” gun controls. Interesting.
McMaken takes a deep look at five tricks the grabbers always play. All five are always based on lies and/or misapplied information. Here’s a look:
Number One: Imply that Crime Is Increasing
First among these are repeated hints that crime, especially homicide, is becoming worse. This has been especially effective in pushing the idea that homicide is now more common every time a mass shooting takes place.
In reality, of course, homicide rates in the United States in 2014 were at a 51-year low. They increased from 2014 to 2015 but remained near a 50-year low, and near 1950s levels, which are recognized as an especially un-homicidal period in US history.
Moreover, homicide rates were cut in half from the 1990s to today, in spite of the fact that guns were being purchased in larger and larger numbers over the period.
A huge lie. But, as Joseph Goebbels said, “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie.” The consequences of disarmament given the state of terrorism, potential crime, and government tyranny are as big as the lie.
Number Two: “Worst in the Developed World”
The claim is often made that homicide rates in the United States are the worst “in the developed” world. In this case, it becomes extremely important to carefully define the “developed” world so as to exclude other countries that have homicide rates similar to that of the United States.
As noted here, the whole notion of the “developed” world creates an arbitrary line between numerous high-middle income countries and a small number of the wealthiest countries. For example, the developed-country narrative necessarily excludes several eastern European (i.e., Latvia and Russia, to name two) countries that have homicide rates comparable to — or higher than — the United States. The narrative also excludes numerous Latin American countries that are prosperous in a global context, are at peace and have functioning legal systems. Examples include Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Costa Rica, and Mexico. None of these countries are in a state of civil war, and all are considered stable democracies. So, why are crime rates in all these countries steadfastly ignored? Because they don’t help the pro-gun control narrative.
Indeed, the whole narrative is based on a bigoted idea of middle-income countries — which implies that any country outside the European-American bubble should just be assumed to be a mess and can’t even be compared to the “civilized” parts of the world.
Also of note is the fact that in most cases, countries with higher homicide rates than the United States have more restrictive gun laws. This is the case throughout much of Eastern Europe and also in Latin America. This becomes starkly apparent when we look at the difference between the US and Mexico. On the US side of the US-Mexico border, where gun ownership is far more common, homicide rates are but a tiny fraction of what they are on the Mexico side of the border, where gun laws are far more restrictive.
Another big lie. America and other armed countries are generally safer than the alternatives. Thus the actual crime rates remaining low despite (really because of) the guns.
Number Three: Erasing the Distinction Between Suicide and Homicide
A third trick is erasing the line between homicide and suicide. Yes, I understand that, in a broad sense, suicide is a type of homicide. But, in popular usage — and in official crime statistics — homicide usually means murder, and almost never means suicide. Moreover, everyone knows there’s a difference between homicidal violence — in which one person is murdered by another person — and a depressed person taking his own life.
However, by ignoring this distinction, gun-control advocates have created the category of “gun violence” which sounds like what normal people call crime. But, in reality, it’s crime mixed with suicide. Thus, those who use this tactic can push up “gun violence” numbers by including suicides, thus vastly increasing the total number of deaths that result from gun usage.
Moreover, those who use this trick often will claim there is a clear relationship between gun ownership rates. They note that in many states, such as Montana and Colorado, for example, suicide rates are relatively high and gun laws are relatively lax. Of course, one can draw even stronger correlations between suicide and altitude or suicide and population density.
Suicides are terrible, certainly. However, they do not threaten the safety of the wider community as do homicides. Still, the liars need all the help they can get to inflate their false alarmist claims. They also like to blur the line between:
Number Four: “Gun Homicide” vs. Homicide
Here’s another trick that involves subtly manipulating language to hide crucial information. When making comparisons among US states and various countries, gun control advocates often replace the term “homicide” with “gun homicide.” This is done because the United States has a larger share of homicides committed by firearms than other countries. However, it can be shown that some countries with more gun ownership have lower homicide rates than countries with higher gun ownership rates.
For example, in Switzerland — where gun ownership is common — 48 percent of homicides are committed with firearms. In neighboring Germany and Austria, the use of firearms in homicides is much lower (24 percent and 10 percent, respectively.) However, the homicide rate is slightly lower in Switzerland (0.6 per 100,000) than in Germany and Austria (0.9 and 0.8 per 100,000, respectively).
Apparently, more firearms homicides (proportionally speaking) to do not translate to higher homicides overall.
Murder is murder from the standpoint of Natural Law. It is wrong. Wrong when committed with a handgun. And wrong when committed with a box truck on the sidewalk. It is also wrong to fudge statistics against one weapon while ignoring the rest. I have yet to hear any calls for banning box trucks, fertilizer, steak knives, axes, or fireworks. Come to think of it, the grabbers rarely want to ban the people prone to commit homicide either. Hmm.
Number Five: Over-reliance on Nationwide Statistics
A fifth final trick is to make inappropriate comparisons to the United States as a single homogeneous jurisdiction. The United States is much larger than any European country and contains far greater variations in terms of geography, climate, culture, and ethnicity than any European country outside of Russia. However, this does not stop many pundits from comparing the United States — with 320 million people — to, say, Belgium, which has only 11 million people and just a handful of metropolitan areas.
Nevertheless, gun control advocates like to list the homicide rate for the United States — in the dishonest manner described above — and say “why are US homicide rates higher?” Ignored, of course, is the fact that homicide rates can differ immensely from state to state. Indeed, as of 2015, the homicide rate (at the state level) ranged from 1.1 per 100,000 in New Hampshire to 10.3 per 100,000 in Louisiana. Obviously, given the fact that gun laws can vary substantially from state to state, it is impossible to draw any meaningful conclusions about homicides and their causes from a nationwide homicide rate. This is also relevant to making international comparisons. When we look at state-level data, for example, we find that states with demographics and climates similar to that of Canada also have homicide rates similar to Canada — in spite of large differences in gun laws.
There are lies, damned lies, and then there are statistics. Honest academic comparison must be conducted between like groups – similar sizes and demographics. The left never lets intellectual honesty get in the way of the big lie.
They always lie. They have to. They’ve been known to craft reams of fake data to support the fascism. Michael A. Bellesiles is still trying to live down the big lie(s) of his infamous book, Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture. Moving forward, word is his newest book argues that no Americans owed automobiles until after 1975. Some things never change.
The lies shift a little but they’re still just lies. And, of course, as part of the disinformation, the left must ignore the fact that guns save far more lives every year that they take – much like the air bags they champion. They pretend the ever-lurking threat of Stalinesque confiscation and genocide isn’t real and that governments are always trustworthy. They lie, and lie, and lie some more. Then, they lie again.
Don’t fall for the lies. Call them out when you hear them. Spite the liars by arming yourselves.