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No Trace Of Truth | Failing Their College Exams

No Trace Of Truth | Failing Their College Exams

Photo credit: Sipa via AP Images

In this column, A1F Daily trains its watchdog eye on The Trace, Michael Bloomberg’s new anti-“gun news” site. 

The Trace has failed its college exam. 

In a feature titled, “The Numbers on Arming College Students Show Risks Outweigh Benefits,” Trace authors Evan DeFilippis and Devin Hughes earned failing grades in practically every discipline. Their debate skills were thin, their arguments specious and their conclusions unsupported. Get out your red pencil. Nowhere in America will you find campus-carry legislation that arms college students. Instead, those initiatives are intended to rescind existing policies that disarm those who are legally entitled to carry.

First, The Trace committed the cardinal sin of test-taking: They neglected to read the question carefully. Nowhere in America will you find campus-carry legislation that arms college students. Instead, those initiatives are intended to rescind existing policies that disarm those who are legally entitled to carry. Minus 10 points for answering the wrong question. 

Secondly, The Trace ignores data that doesn’t support its premise. The authors dismiss the work of researchers such as respected economist John Lott and University of Florida criminologist Gary Kleck as “thoroughly discredited” and “debunked.” However, both men’s careful research, analysis, writings and testimony before legislative bodies have been influential in the sweeping success of Castle Doctrine and Right-to-Carry laws nationwide. The Trace can’t just wish them away when legislatures and national media alike continue to depend on their expertise in the field: Minus another 10 points. 

Thirdly, The Trace authors cite some dubious sources for their research. Case in point: One of the studies cited examined more than 300 sexual assaults and incredibly concluded that, because none of them were stopped with a gun, women “almost never successfully fend off a would-be rapist with a firearm.” This is akin to counting the number of teeth extracted by dentists and deducing that flossing is a waste of time. Never mind that no mechanism exists to count the times an armed woman prevents a sexual assault, the premise here is again wrong: No one argues that campus carry will put an end to campus rape. Rather, since campus rape exists, it’s immoral to deny women the means to protect themselves when on campus. 

The Trace employed the same brand of critical thinking to an FBI report: “detailing 160 active shooting incidents from 2000-2013 (that) found that only one incident was stopped by a concealed-carry permit holder.” Two questions for The Trace: How many of those incidents occurred in gun-free zones where law-abiding permit holders are barred from carrying? And again, just how do you count an active shooting event that didn’t happen because an armed citizen intervened? NRA has collected a large database of such armed citizen accounts dating back to 1954. How many of those would have been considered “active shooting events?” Minus 10 more points for fuzzy thinking. 

The Trace continually attempts to convince Americans that they are just not qualified to defend themselves with firearms. This time, they cite what they call an “independent study” commissioned by something called the National Gun Victims Action Council (which, on the face of it, wouldn’t appear to be all that independent). This “study” put 77 participants through scenario training and decided they could not be trusted with their own self-defense. Only one problem: The study wasn’t limited to permit holders. That is like putting the Carpenters Union Local 506 in an operating room and then concluding doctors shouldn’t be allowed to use sharp objects. Minus 15 more points, because this nonsense is starting to annoy us. Only one problem: The study wasn’t limited to permit holders. That is like putting the Carpenters Union Local 506 in an operating room and concluding doctors shouldn’t be allowed to use sharp objects.

The Trace cites a recent article in The Nation, originally titled “Combat Vets Shoot Down NRA ‘Fantasy World’ of ‘Good Guys With Guns,’” that relied extensively on the opinion of former Navy SEAL Stephen Benson that armed citizens without extensive training (like his) actually pose a public danger during an active shooter incident. The main problem with that was that Benson was neither a combat veteran nor a SEAL—a fact that has disappeared from the online article along with any mention of Benson. Minus 25 points for … just … making stuff up.

The Trace finally attempts to blind us with “science,” citing various studies that claim gun owners are accident-prone, regularly shoot people with whom they disagree, drink heavily and exhibit angry behavior. Oh, and they added the obligatory insinuation that college students are too young, irresponsible and drunk to be trusted with firearms. 

Once again for you folks at The Trace: Not one piece of campus-carry legislation nationwide proposes to arm underage undergrads. They all—every last one of them—seek to remove the restrictions on lawful, age-appropriate permit holders that disarm them on college campuses without any justification.

You now lose all your remaining points. And I want to see both of you in the principal’s office immediately!

We’ll see the 77 lab rats you claimed in the video self-defense scenario “research,” and raise you 12 million permit holders nationwide who, credible studies show, are more law-abiding than non-permit holders by a wide margin, and who have demonstrated proficiency in crisis situations by shooting the wrong person at a far lower rate than do police. 

Add to that the millions of examples of lawful defensive gun uses (only a smattering of which NRA catalogs in its Armed Citizen files), and then answer the real question: “How can you possibly justify disarming us on college campuses that are becoming magnets for armed lunatics?” 

Extra credit for making any sense whatsoever.