The Washington Post's Wonkblog debunked Donald Trump's debate assertion that places that do not allow guns attract mass shooters, concluding that "little data supports this claim."
During the October 28 CNBC GOP debate, Trump said, "I feel that the gun-free zones and, you know, when you say that, that's target practice for the sickos and for the mentally ill. That's target [practice]. They look around for gun-free zones."
Wonkblog's Christopher Ingraham concluded in an October 29 article that "little data supports this claim," before offering three reasons why Trump was wrong.
As Ingraham explained, an analysis of public mass shootings shows that gunman do not choose their targets because of gun policies but rather "you typically find that gunmen have a grievance attached to a particular location" that forms the motive of the shooting.
Ingraham also cited an analysis of 110 mass shootings that occurred between January 2009 and July 2014 that "found that only 14 percent of those shootings took place in a so-called 'gun-free' zone."
Lastly, Ingraham explained that the claim gunmen target "gun-free zones" relies on the assumption that the individuals who perpetrate these crimes are rational actors:
But little data supports this claim. For starters, if you probe the reasons why shooters target particular places, you typically find that gunmen have a grievance attached to a particular location. A Mother Jones analysis of mass shootings between 1982 and 2015 found not one single instance where the gunman appeared to be motivated by the knowledge that a place was gun-free.
Rather, gunmen usually had specific grievances that they chose to take out at certain locations: a workplace, or a federal facility, or a school, for instance. The FBI's 2014 study of 160 active shooter incidents found that in many cases, shooters had a specific connection either to the place where the shooting occurred, or with somebody who worked there.
And a 2014 analysis by a gun control group of 110 mass shooting incidents between January 2009 and July 2014 found that only 14 percent of those shootings took place in a so-called "gun-free" zone.
As Evan DeFilippis and Devin Hughes point out at The Trace, the claim that shooters target gun-free zones runs contrary to another claim frequently made by gun rights advocates: that mass shootings are primarily a function of mental health and not of gun laws. But the claim that mass shooters rationally seek out gun-free areas in order to encounter the least resistance runs a tension with the notion that shooters are mentally ill individuals with an irrational axe to grind.
National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent weighed in on controversy over a viral video showing a South Carolina deputy ripping a high school student from her desk and throwing her to the ground, claiming that the teenager "had it coming" before comparing the young student to "an animal."
Videos began circulating on social media on October 26 showing South Carolina Deputy Ben Fields dragging a 16-year-old student away from her desk and slamming her onto the ground before arresting her. The student was accused of disrupting the classroom. Following widespread outrage over the officer's conduct, Fields was fired.
In his regular column for conspiracy website WND, Nugent offered "a huge Nuge thank you and SALUTE to Columbia, South Carolina, Senior Deputy Ben Fields," calling him a "master of 'improvise, adapt and overcome' good citizen cop all good Americans have come to admire and respect."
Nugent also lobbed insults at the student, calling her a "disobedient punk," and a "brat." He suggested the student disobeyed her parents, writing, "By all these consistent indicators, how much do you want to bet she disobeyed her parents and every other authority figure her entire life, and got away with it?"
According to news reports, the student is recently orphaned, following the death of her mother.
Nugent also connected the South Carolina incident to several incidents that resulted in the death of African-Americans. Referencing the shooting death of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman, Nugent wrote, "None of my family members would attack a neighborhood watch volunteer and end up getting shot and killed."
He then connected the incident to the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner:
None of my children would steal anything from a store and then assault the shopkeeper.
None of my children would defy orders from a cop, assault him and attempt to steal his gun, then attack him and get shot in self-defense.
None of the Nugent family would sell illegal cigarettes then violently resist arrest.
Nugent also compared the South Carolina student to an animal, writing, "Obey and you won't get ripped from your desk and put under control. Act like an animal and you will end up being treated like an animal."
A new video from the National Rifle Association's (NRA) executive vice president Wayne LaPierre claims that President Obama "has all the laws he needs to stop the bloodshed" of gun violence in big cities but chooses not to because he supposedly refuses to enforce federal gun laws.
In fact, the NRA has engaged in a decades-long campaign to hinder the efforts of the federal law enforcement agency charged with enforcing federal gun laws, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF).
In an October 27 video released by NRA News, LaPierre claimed, "Under the existing federal gun laws, [Obama] could take every felon with a gun, drug dealer with a gun and criminal gangbanger with a gun off the streets tomorrow and lock them up for five years or more. But he won't do it, his Justice Department won't do it, and the media never asks why."
The video also featured LaPierre's continued apparent use of racially coded language by contrasting "thugs like De'Eris Brown," "criminal gangbangers with illegal guns in Chicago," and "violent thugs" with "the good, honest Americans living out in farm towns in Nebraska or Oklahoma or working two jobs in inner-city Chicago or Baltimore." The video was introduced by LaPierre claiming "[n]othing illustrates America's breakdown like the way the president's hometown celebrates its holidays," before describing Chicago shootings as a "kind of third-world carnage."
LaPierre concluded with a false claim: "No organization has been louder, clearer or more consistent on the urgent need to enforce the federal gun laws than the NRA."
The NRA's lie is brazen given widespread reporting explaining how the gun group interferes with ATF operations. As USA Today reported in 2013, "lobbying records and interviews show the [NRA] has worked steadily to weaken existing gun laws and the federal agency charged with enforcing them."
According to The Washington Post, "the gun lobby has consistently outmaneuvered and hemmed in ATF, using political muscle to intimidate lawmakers and erect barriers to tougher gun laws. Over nearly four decades, the NRA has wielded remarkable influence over Congress, persuading lawmakers to curb ATF's budget and mission and to call agency officials to account at oversight hearings."
The NRA's opposition to the ATF has been extreme. The gun group has threatened to attempt to abolish the agency all together and LaPierre infamously called federal law enforcement agents "jack-booted government thugs" who wear "Nazi bucket helmets and black storm trooper uniforms."
Here are four things the NRA does that are detrimental to the enforcement of federal gun laws:
The NRA routinely cajoles its allies in Congress to limit the ATF's budget (even as other federal law enforcement agency budgets grow) and pass riders to appropriations legislation that further limit the agency's ability to enforce federal gun laws. As a 2013 report from Center for American Progress explained, one set of riders, often called the Tiahrt Amendments, "have limited how ATF can collect and share information to detect illegal gun trafficking, how it can regulate firearms sellers, and how it partners with federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies." The NRA has also backed legislation to hamper the ability of the ATF to go after criminal gun dealers, in one instance backing a bill that the Washington Post editorial board explained, "would make it all but impossible for the ATF to press forward with any case."
In 2006, an NRA-backed amendment to the re-authorization of The Patriot Act created the requirement that the Senate confirm permanent ATF directors who are nominated by the president. The NRA subsequently opposed nominees for a permanent director, in one case comparing Obama's 2010 nominee Andrew Traver to an arsonist. After seven years of not having a permanent director, B. Todd Jones was confirmed by the Senate in 2013, but resigned after just two years. Unsurprisingly, law enforcement officials have told The New York Times that having a permanent director vacancy "has inevitably depleted morale and kept the agency from developing a coherent agenda."
While LaPierre repeatedly referenced felons with guns in his video, his organization attempts to make the ATF use its budget to rearm felons. For more than two decades, standard appropriations language prohibited the ATF from using budget money on a program that allowed people who had lost their legal right to buy or own a gun because of a felony conviction to apply for restoration of that right. Without having to operate the program, the ATF has had more funding to enforce federal gun laws. In June, an NRA ally in Congress offered a successful amendment to reverse the longstanding language. While the amendment was under consideration the NRA repeatedly promoted it with the blatant falsehood that the program would only be available to nonviolent felons.
Under current federal law, gun dealers are allowed to proceed with a gun sale if the federal background check is not returned as a "proceed" or "denied" after three business days. Known as a "default proceed" sale, this feature of federal law is also called the "Charleston loophole" after the gunman who perpetrated the massacre at Mother Emanuel AME church, who received his gun without a completed background check (he would have been disqualified because of a drug charge). The "Charleston loophole" allows a significant number of prohibited persons to obtain firearms and diverts the resources of the ATF and other law enforcement agencies who must attempt to recover guns that would not have been sold without a completed background check. The loophole was created by an NRA-backed amendment to the 1993 Brady background check bill and following the Charleston massacre, the NRA vigorously defended the loophole as "a critical safety valve" to shield prospective gun purchasers from undergoing delays in the completion of background checks -- even though more than 90 percent of background checks are completed instantly.
From the October 27 edition of Fox News' Outnumbered:
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The Washington Post relied on a flawed polling question to conclude that there is a "bitter and stark division" on the issue of gun violence as it relates to the 2016 election.
The Washington Post and ABC News asked respondents, "Which do you think should be a higher priority right now - (enacting new laws to try to reduce gun violence), or (protecting the right to own guns)?" in a survey conducted earlier this month.
46 percent of participants chose "enacting new laws to try to reduce gun violence," compared to 47 percent who chose "protecting the right to own guns." In its October 26 article on the poll, the Post describes the result as an indication of "bitter and stark division on whether new gun laws should trump the constitutional right to gun ownership." But the question presents a false choice: it is entirely possible to both protect gun rights and enact laws to reduce gun violence. For example, as the Post article itself acknowledges, proposals to expand background checks are overwhelmingly popular with the public. Background checks do not interfere with "the right to own guns" for lawful gun owners.
The Post/ABC News question is similar to a question used by Pew Research Center that Pew has acknowledged is flawed. For years Pew has asked the public to choose whether it is more important to "control gun ownership" or to "protect the right of Americans to own guns." Like the Post question, this presents respondents with a false choice.
Daniel Webster, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research has criticized the Pew question, explaining, "Pew's question presents one side emphasizing the protection of individual rights versus restricting gun ownership. The question's implicit and incorrect assumption is that regulations of gun sales infringe on gun owners' rights and control their ability to own guns. The reality is that the vast majority of gun laws restrict the ability of criminals and other dangerous people to get guns and place minimal burdens on potential gun purchasers such as undergoing a background check. Such policies enjoy overwhelming public support."
In response to the criticism, Pew acknowledged to Mother Jones that the question is flawed and said that Webster "is right to put it in context."
A new CBS Evening News' series that examines gun violence in America has featured prominent conservative misinformers on the issue, including a guest who once suggested that mass shootings are staged by the government. While "Voices Against Violence" has also featured advocates for stronger gun laws, CBS has given airtime to Gun Owners of America head Larry Pratt -- whose group has donated money to a white supremacist group -- and Milwaukee County, Wisconsin Sheriff David Clarke, who has raised the idea of justifiable armed revolution against the government and is well-known for his inflammatory commentary, such as that Hillary Clinton "is willing to prostitute herself to secure the black vote."
The New York Times editorial board debunked the prevalent conservative media myth that a "vigilant citizen packing a legally permitted concealed weapon" might "stop the next mass shooter." To the contrary, the October 26 editorial cites a recent finding that individuals with concealed carry permits committed 579 shootings since 2007, claiming at least 763 lives, noting "the vast majority of these concealed-carry, licensed shooters killed themselves or others rather than taking down a perpetrator."
Misinformation on the subject is rampant. Right-wing media have repeatedly used high profile mass shootings to hype the myth that increased carrying of concealed guns offers a solution to such attacks.
As the Times editorial also noted, the gun lobby impedes research on gun deaths by "persuading gullible state and national legislators that concealed carry is essential to public safety, thus blocking the extensive data collection that should be mandatory for an obvious and severe public health problem."
In its editorial, The Times concluded that permissive concealed carry laws lead to "dangerous vigilantism that endangers communities ... not the mythic self-defense being peddled as concealed carry":
The more that sensational gun violence afflicts the nation, the more that the myth of the vigilant citizen packing a legally permitted concealed weapon, fully prepared to stop the next mass shooter in his tracks, is promoted.
This foolhardy notion of quick-draw resistance, however, is dramatically contradicted by a research project showing that, since 2007, at least 763 people have been killed in 579 shootings that did not involve self-defense. Tellingly, the vast majority of these concealed-carry, licensed shooters killed themselves or others rather than taking down a perpetrator.
The death toll includes 29 mass killings of three or more people by concealed carry shooters who took 139 lives; 17 police officers shot to death, and -- in the ultimate contradiction of concealed carry as a personal safety factor -- 223 suicides. Compared with the 579 non-self-defense, concealed-carry shootings, there were only 21 cases in which self-defense was determined to be a factor.
The tally by the Violence Policy Center, a gun safety group, is necessarily incomplete because the gun lobby has been so successful in persuading gullible state and national legislators that concealed carry is essential to public safety, thus blocking the extensive data collection that should be mandatory for an obvious and severe public health problem. For that reason, the center has been forced to rely largely on news accounts and limited data in 38 states and the District of Columbia.
More complete research, unimpeded by the gun lobby, would undoubtedly uncover a higher death toll. But this truly vital information is kept largely from the public. A Gallup poll this month found 56 percent of Americans said the nation would be safer if more people carried concealed weapons.
Clearly, concealed carry does not transform ordinary citizens into superheroes. Rather, it compounds the risks to innocent lives, particularly as state legislatures, bowing to the gun lobby, invite more citizens to venture out naïvely with firearms in more and more public places, including restaurants, churches and schools.
Recent concealed-carry excesses include legal shooters charged by the police with recklessly pegging a few wild shots at shoplifters and other nonviolent suspects they see fleeing on public streets. This is dangerous vigilantism that endangers communities, the police warn, not the mythic self-defense being peddled as concealed carry.
From the October 25 edition of NBC's Meet the Press:
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From the October 23 edition of CBS' CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley:
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The National Rifle Association is promoting an article that suggested "radical" Democrats will attempt to confiscate firearms in the United States and trigger a civil war where "the survivors of the Democrat rebellion" are ultimately hanged.
In an October 17 post, conservative gun blogger Bob Owens claimed that if the "radical left" attempts to "impose their ideas on the American people" -- which Owens claims includes gun confiscation -- "it would end poorly and quickly" for them after they are confronted by "armed free citizens."
Owens has previously fantasized about civil war breaking out in the United States and has responded to Media Matters documentation of his rhetoric by writing that he hopes the "propagandists" at Media Matters "feel threatened."
Owens began his October 17 article with an image of gallows and the caption, "This is where the survivors of the Democrat rebellion will meet their end." His article was promoted by the NRA on social media.
Writing, "I merely hope that we get to the 2016 elections," Owens nonetheless described a scenario where gun confiscation supported by Democrats starts a civil war. Owens warned, "We do not want a civil war against the radical left wing of the Democrat Party, but let it be made abundantly clear that if they start one, they will be utterly destroyed by armed free citizens, as the Founders intended":
I merely hope that we get to the 2016 elections.
The radical left is getting much louder, much more shrill, and much more insistent in their desire to use force to get their way and impose their ideas on the American people.
If they try such a radical path it would end poorly and quickly.
The military and local law enforcement agencies in the United States that the radical left has been trashing in public since the Vietnam War until now will not take part in any plot to disarm American citizens.
Soldiers, Marines and sheriffs may even defect to actively resist any federal officers from a pool of just over 100,000 who would take on the suicidal task of taking on the military, local police, and a hundred righteously-angry million gun owners, led by over a thousand angry Green Berets that warned President Obama in 2013 not push his luck.
Who is left to carrying out these confiscatory fantasies but the radicals themselves?
Are Cornell University Art Professor Carl Ostendarp or Coppin State writing instructor D. Watkins going to going on raiding parties? Are comedian Amy Schumer and her Senator-cousin Chuck going to kick in doors? Somehow, I don't see President Mom Jeans picking up a breaching ram and leading by example.
I'm glad that these totalitarians are finally showing their true colors to their fellow Americans, as it will assure a crushing defeat of their anti-American ideals at the ballot box. Perhaps then sane Democrats like Jim Webb can pick up the remains of the Democrat Party and either return it to something President Kennedy would have respected, or start something new.
Of course, we've got to get the elections, and these radicals are pushing hard for action, now, and they're proving with every passing day that reason and constitutionality are the least of their concerns.
We do not want a civil war against the radical left wing of the Democrat Party, but let it be made abundantly clear that if they start one, they will be utterly destroyed by armed free citizens, as the Founders intended.
A new commentary video from the National Rifle Association admitted that the odds of needing to use a gun for self-defense are exceedingly small while still promoting the ownership of firearms for self-defense.
The admission was made on the NRA's Noir web series, a show hosted by gun blogger turned NRA News commentator Colion Noir. The series is part of the NRA's increasing efforts to appeal to a younger demographic.
The October 20 edition of Noir opened with Noir playing the role of a magician as he laid out a deck of 52 cards in random order. After the skit ended, Noir said, "There are 318.9 million American citizens. The odds of you and me needing a gun to protect our lives is not that much better than Colion the Incredible putting these cards back in the exact order."
This admission from an NRA media product is surprising, but also accurate. The odds of randomly laying out two decks of cards in the same order are infinitesimal.
The odds of using a gun defensively are actually so low that it is difficult to accurately measure the number of defensive gun uses that occur each year. Meanwhile, gun violence is so frequent in the United States that more than 100,000 gunshot injuries are recorded every year (a figure that does not include crimes committed with guns where no one is shot).
Despite admitting the rarity of defensive gun uses, the NRA commentary video did not admit the logical conclusion of that fact, which is that guns do not typically make people safer.
In the commentary video, Noir still promoted guns as a life-saving tool. While acknowledging the long odds of actually needing a gun for self-defense, Noir stated, "Some people like to be prepared for the unlikely but possible. Other people like to cross their fingers and play the statistics. As American citizens we have the right to do both. But we don't have the right to do is limit someone's ability to be prepared for something we don't believe will happen until it does."
And Noir giving equal weight to owning a gun and being "prepared for the unlikely but possible" as opposed to not owning a gun and "play[ing] the statistics" does not make much sense if the ultimate goal is to improve personal safety.
This is because the evidence clearly indicates that gun ownership increases the risk of injury and death. While Noir frequently challenges those skeptical of gun ownership with a hypothetical scenario where it is obvious that having a gun would be better than not having one, firearm ownership on balance makes the average gun owner and his or her family less rather than more safe throughout that person's life. Peer-reviewed research has repeatedly established that gun ownership raises the likelihood of death by suicide, homicide, and through unintentional shooting.
Emerging research has also challenged the notion that guns are the best tools during a self-defense situation.
According to an analysis of federal government data from the National Crime Victimization Survey, "having a gun provides no statistically significant benefit to a would-be victim during a criminal confrontation" because victims who used a firearm to defend themselves were injured 10.9 percent of the time during a "criminal confrontation" compared to 11 percent of unarmed victims who were injured. Furthermore, the research indicated that 4.1 percent of victims were injured "after brandishing a firearm," compared to just 2.4 percent of victims who were injured after running or hiding.
Noir's admission that people are unlikely to actually use a gun in self-defense is also counter to the NRA's typical paranoid message, which posits that guns should be permissively purchased and carried so that gun owners can confront constant threats to their lives.
For example, in a February 2013 op-ed that was widely ridiculed for its outlandish claims and racially charged overtones, NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre suggested that gun ownership was necessary to ensure "survival." LaPierre argued that Americans who don't buy firearms risk death from a number of sources:
Hurricanes. Tornadoes. Riots. Terrorists. Gangs. Lone criminals. These are perils we are sure to face--not just maybe. It's not paranoia to buy a gun. It's survival. It's responsible behavior, and it's time we encourage law-abiding Americans to do just that.
LaPierre used similar language in a 2014 speech at CPAC, raising a number of frightful scenarios including "knockout gamers," "haters," "vicious waves of chemicals or disease" to support his claim that "there is no greater freedom than the right to survive and protect our families with all the rifles, shotguns, and handguns we want":
We don't trust government, because government itself has proven unworthy of our trust. We trust ourselves and we trust what we know in our hearts to be right. We trust our freedom. In this uncertain world, surrounded by lies and corruption everywhere you look, there is no greater freedom than the right to survive and protect our families with all the rifles, shotguns, and handguns we want. We know in the world that surrounds us there are terrorists and there are home invaders, drug cartels, carjackers, knockout gamers, and rapers, and haters, and campus killers, airport killers, shopping mall killers and killers who scheme to destroy our country with massive storms of violence against our power grids or vicious waves of chemicals or disease that could collapse our society that sustains us all.
Fox News host and Daily Caller Editor-in-Chief Tucker Carlson acknowledged that it is not politically unwise for Democrats to embrace gun safety as a centerpiece campaign issue, breaking with the media's long-held conventional wisdom that Democrats should avoid talking about the issue because it is allegedly politically perilous to oppose the gun lobby.
Carlson's admission that it makes sense for Democrats to talk about guns ahead of the 2016 election is surprising given that the National Rifle Association -- which is deeply entwined with Carlson's conservative news website, The Daily Caller -- benefits from the media status quo, which baselessly presents the gun issue as dangerous for Democrats.
During the October 15 broadcast of America's Newsroom, Carlson appeared as a guest to discuss the prominence of gun violence prevention as a topic of discussion in CNN's October 13 Democratic primary debate. Carlson said, "Politically, it's probably not a dumb play for Democrats. America has changed dramatically in its demographic composition." He also noted that the issue "polls pretty well" with "suburban and single women."
When asked whether Democrats might "overplay their hand" advocating for gun safety laws, Carlson replied, "Again, the population has really changed in the United States and Republicans need to clearly articulate why this will not make the country safer and until they do, and unless they do, they could lose this debate."
Though he acknowledged that it makes political sense for Democrats to talk about the need for more gun safety laws, Carlson also pushed several pro-gun talking points, including claiming that Democratic gun policy proposals are "laughable" and "infantile," and falsely declaring that their goal is to "disarm the population."
The idea that Democrats who support gun safety proposals will lose elections after the National Rifle Association mobilizes voters against them is a longstanding myth in media coverage of the gun issue, although there has never been any evidence to support the theory.
From the October 15 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:
BILL HEMMER: Where does this issue go in terms of politics in this campaign?
TUCKER CARLSON: Well, there are two ways to look at it, on the political half and then of course the policy, i.e. the reality half. Politically, it's probably not a dumb play for Democrats. America has changed dramatically in its demographic composition, and there are a couple of groups Democrats need to win. One is suburban and single women, and this issue polls pretty well with them, for sure, and the other, of course, is trial lawyers, from whom a lot of Democratic campaign funds come.
HEMMER: Republicans think Democrats are going to overplay their hand on this. Is there evidence that suggests they are right about that in an election year?
CARLSON: I don't think -- I wouldn't take that for granted. Again, the population has really changed in the United States and Republicans need to clearly articulate why this will not make the country safer and until they do, and unless they do, they could lose this debate. I say that with sorrow, but it's true. They have to make a strong rhetorical case. It's there for the taking, but they have to be bold in making it.
A professor of history and Holocaust studies debunked Ben Carson's suggestion that fewer people would have been killed in the Holocaust had there been greater access to guns in an op-ed for The New York Times, explaining that such assertions "are difficult to fathom" for anyone "who studies Nazi Germany and the Holocaust for a living."
Ben Carson has come under fire after an October 8 interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer where he claimed that the number of people killed in the Holocaust "would have been greatly diminished if the people had been armed." Carson's comments were immediately called out as "historically inaccurate" by the Anti-Defamation League, but Fox News figures continuously stood by the controversial comments, which parroted an old right-wing media talking point.
In an October 14 op-ed for The New York Times, Alan Steinweis, a Holocaust studies and history professor at the University of Vermont, wrote that Carson's comments are "strangely ahistorical, a classic instance of injecting an issue that is important in our place and time into a historical situation where it was not seen as important." Steinweiss went on to assert that contrary to the talking points popularized by conservative media and echoed by Carson, he "can think of no serious work of scholarship on the Nazi dictatorship or on the causes of the Holocaust in which Nazi gun control measures feature as a significant factor" and that such assertions "trivialize" the experience of Jews in Europe during the 1930s and 1940s:
To anyone who studies Nazi Germany and the Holocaust for a living, as I do, Ben Carson's statements about gun control are difficult to fathom. "I think the likelihood of Hitler being able to accomplish his goals would have been greatly diminished if the people had been armed," the Republican presidential candidate said in a recent interview.
Mr. Carson's argument, which he made in his new book "A More Perfect Union" and was asked to defend last week, is strangely ahistorical, a classic instance of injecting an issue that is important in our place and time into a historical situation where it was not seen as important. I can think of no serious work of scholarship on the Nazi dictatorship or on the causes of the Holocaust in which Nazi gun control measures feature as a significant factor. Neither does gun control figure in the collective historical memory of any group that was targeted by the Nazi regime, be they Jews, Gypsies, the disabled, gay people or Poles. It is simply a nonissue.
Mr. Carson's remarks not only trivialize the predicament in which Jews found themselves in Germany and elsewhere in Europe during the 1930s and 1940s. They also trivialize the serious, prolonged and admirable efforts undertaken by many Germans to work through the causes of their country's catastrophic mistakes of that period.
The origins of the Nazi dictatorship are to be found in the authoritarian legacy of the German Empire, the inability to cope with the defeat in World War I and the failure to achieve political compromise during the Weimar Republic. When it comes to explaining the Holocaust, Germans inquire about the place of anti-Semitism and xenophobia in their society and about the psychological and cultural factors that led ordinary citizens to participate in, or to accept, horrific atrocities. They understand their own history well enough to avoid being distracted by demagogy about gun control.
If the United States is going to arrive at a workable compromise solution to its gun problem, it will not be accomplished through the use of historical analogies that are false, silly and insulting. Similarly, coming to terms with a civilizational breach of the magnitude of the Holocaust requires a serious encounter with history, rather than political sloganeering that exploits history as a prop for mobilizing one's base.
Politico's Democratic presidential debate "Wrongometer" criticized comments from Sen. Bernie Sanders during the Democratic presidential debate by relying on a misleading definition to conclude that the "gun show loophole" -- a decades-old policy term referring to gun sales without a background check that occur at gun shows -- "doesn't actually exist."
Indeed, Politico itself has repeatedly used the term "gun show loophole."
During CNN's October 13 debate, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) said the United States has to "do away with this gun show loophole."
Politico purported to fact check this statement, concluding, "Sorry, Bernie: The 'gun show loophole' doesn't exist." According to Politico the "gun show loophole" does not exist because "there's nothing in particular about gun shows that allows otherwise illegal gun sales to occur":
When Bernie Sanders mentioned closing the so-called "gun show" loophole--one of the most widely supported gun-control measures on the left. But there's one problem: the "gun show" loophole doesn't actually exist.
There's nothing in particular about gun shows that allows otherwise illegal gun sales to occur. Sanders instead is referring to an exclusion in the gun laws that does not require a background check in a private sale. It doesn't matter if that sale is at the seller's home or at a gun show, a background check is not legally required.
But the occurrence of "otherwise illegal gun sales" is not the definition of the "gun show loophole." Instead the term has always referred to the sale of firearms without a background check by so-called "private sellers" at gun shows.
The term "gun show loophole" came to widespread use in the wake of the 1999 Columbine High School massacre. All four guns used in that mass shooting passed through a local gun show in private sales that did not include a background check. (Today the term "private sales loophole" is often used because it encompasses sales without a background check at gun shows, in-person sales outside of gun shows, and sales through other venues such as the Internet.)
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has estimated that between 25 and 50 percent of sales at gun shows are conducted by private sellers without a background check, while the rest are conducted with a background check by licensed gun dealers in possession of a Federal Firearms License (FFL). Under federal law individuals who are "engaged in the business" of selling firearms are required to obtain an FFL and perform checks on customers, while individuals who make "occasional" sales are not. Because these terms are vaguely defined, unscrupulous "private sellers" can exploit the language of the law to operate unlicensed pseudo-businesses.
If the loophole did not exist, several states would not have moved to close it, but that is exactly what has happened. According to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, Connecticut, Colorado, Illinois and New York all "have laws expressly addressing background checks at gun shows, although broader laws also apply." Other states have more expansive laws requiring background checks for all firearm transfers that encompass private sales at gun shows.
There is good reason to believe that the "gun show loophole" is exploited by individuals who would not be able to pass a background check. A 2011 undercover investigation of seven gun shows in three states by the City of New York found that 19 out of 30 private sellers agreed to a sale where the buyer said he probably couldn't pass a background check. The loophole is also ripe for abuse by narco-terrorists, illegal gun traffickers and other dangerous individuals.
Politico's purported fact check of Sanders' statement is also nonsensical because the outlet itself has used the term "gun show loophole" to refer to private sales at gun shows. A 2013 Politico article used the term the same way Sanders did in the debate:
"The 'private sale' loophole is the gaping hole in our federal gun laws which allows anyone who is not a federally licensed gun dealer to sell a gun without a background check -- no questions asked," said Jonathan E. Lowy, legal action director of The Brady Campaign.
It's also referred to as the gun-show loophole, because it can allow collectors to sell each other guns during gun shows, said John Lott, the former chief economist of the U.S. Sentencing Commission. Some states have already passed laws to include running background checks on privatized gun sales, but there's no federal law.
In December 2012, Politico used the term "gun show loophole" in a section header to describe sales without background checks in an article that was billed as "POLITICO's look at the top policy proposals circulating in the wake of the" Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting (emphasis original):
Closing the gun show loophole
Requiring every person-to-person gun sale to be subject to a background check -- long a favorite talking point of the gun control crowd -- is perhaps the easiest for lawmakers to support but the most logistically difficult measure to achieve. The 1993 Brady law requires background checks for guns purchased by licensed dealers, but it does not address private sales.
After the 2007 mass shooting at Virginia Tech, Politico again used the term "gun show loophole" to describe private sales at gun shows:
Pennsylvania's experience closely mirrors what happened in Colorado after the 1999 Columbine shootings, in which 12 students and a teacher were killed. Lawmakers failed to close the "gun show loophole" by passing a law requiring background checks at gun shows. Instead, voters petitioned it onto the ballot in 2000, and it passed with more than 70 percent of the vote.
Oregon voters also had to take matters into their own hands after lawmakers failed to close a gun show loophole after a school shooting in 1998. The ballot measure closing the loophole passed with more than 60 percent of the vote.
During the October 12 episode of The Michael Berry Show, Houston based radio host Michael Berry continued his recurring segment mocking gun violence in Chicago.
Referring to Chicago as "Thuglandia," Berry said one of the victims, who was 15, was found shot behind his home "bleeding his life away into the dirt." Berry described another victim who was shot in a car as having "bled out all over the upholstery...like that scene in Pulp Fiction."
Berry said the "one thing you should learn from all of this is that black lives matter, just not to black people."
Berry's reoccurring segment on Chicago violence, which he refers to as the "butcher bill," often mocks innocent victims of gun violence as well as gang related shooting victims. The Chicago segment and other race based segments represent a small portion of the inflammatory rhetoric appearing on the Michael Berry Show, which also includes appearances from a black face comedian, as well as homophobic and islamaphobic commentary.