In this column, A1F Daily trains its watchdog eye on The Trace, Michael Bloomberg’s new anti-“gun news” site.
On Monday, The Trace’s Mike Spies took a stab at creating the impression of a nationwide hate-crime spree fueled by bigots waving firearms. In “The Gun Doesn’t Have To Go Off For It To Be A Hate Crime,” he resorts to twisting federal data to taint guns with the most radioactive subject in American politics: race.
Those few brave readers who are willing to wade through this muck will find The Trace is forced to make a startling admission: Of those 8,132 hate crimes, only 207 involved firearms.Remember The Trace’s subhead, because we’re going to revisit it later: “An analysis of federal data reveals a pattern of intimidation-by-firearm.”
Analysis; Data; Pattern. One can almost see the banks of lights flickering on The Trace’s supercomputer. After all, it would take one to look at federal data that shows firearms are not being used in hate crimes, yet at the same time see an epidemic of bigots intimidating minorities just by waving guns around.
The Trace plumbs the FBI’s National Incident-Based Reporting System (not to be confused with the FBI’s respected Uniform Crime Reports) for its “data.” It doesn’t even matter that this database is not comprehensive, that participation is not mandatory, and only about a third of police departments submit records to it. The Trace manipulates the numbers so self-servingly, any self-respecting database would be ashamed to be cited by them.
The Trace finds 8,132 hate crimes reported in 27 states between 2011 and 2013. They pad their article with reams of findings, graphs and percentages on race, assault types, motives, injury types, sexual persuasion—none of which have anything to do with guns.
But this data dump does accomplish one thing: It is so mind-numbing that The Trace hopes you’ll stop reading and only remember “hate crimes” and “guns.”
However, those few brave readers who are willing to wade through this muck will find The Trace is forced to make a startling admission: Of those 8,132 hate crimes, only 207 involved firearms.
In the same paragraph, The Trace is forced to admit:
Of those 207, 132 resulted in no injury, or unspecified minor physical damage.
140 were aggravated assaults; 26 were robberies; 31 were “weapon law violations.”
Only three were murders (.037 percent).
Note: I do appreciate The Trace for making my job easy. The website’s features always include their own opposition research.
The Trace wraps up by claiming, “This is the kind of gun violence that isn’t often talked about in America—the type where the goal is to intimidate, and the damage is psychological but no less real.”
No, Mike, it’s not talked about because, by your own “research,” it’s not freaking happening often enough to merit mention. Your own research finds that only 2.6 percent of hate crime involves firearms. Maybe you can’t hear anything over the sound of your “Man From U.N.C.L.E.”-vintage supercomputer throwing a rod.
Question for you, Mike: Does the federal database list the number of times that hate crime victims used a gun in lawful self-defense? After all, there’s a long, documented history of minorities exercising their Second Amendments rights to defend themselves from hooded marauders. Most gun-control schemes have roots in Reconstruction-era attempts by whites to disarm freed slaves. How many times was a gun used, not to initiate a hate crime, but to end it? Mike?
The Trace launched with a lofty mission statement that listed “ACCURACY” and “FAIRNESS” in its core values (in all caps so we know they’re sincere). But is there a trace of accuracy here? What is fair about smearing guns and gun owners with such a dingy film of racism? Does the federal database list the number of times that hate crime victims used a gun in lawful self-defense? … How many times was a gun used, not to initiate a hate crime, but to end it?
What kind of conversation has to take place between writer and editor for this mess to get posted?
Spies: “Uh, I’m having a problem with that piece on guns and hate crimes. They’re only used, like … um, I don’t know, 3 percent of the time or so.”
Editor: “Count the ones that aren’t murders, too.”
Spies: “That is counting the ones that aren’t murders.”
Editor: “Then include the ones where no one was injured. Do I have to do everything?”
Spies: “That’s counting the ones where no one was injured, too.”
Editor: “Dammit, Mike, then say bigots use guns to intimidate minorities just by waving them around! They’re so scary, they don’t even have to fire them! Get the art intern to make some graphs for you. And tell her that I want three pumps in my coffee tomorrow, not two.”
Actually, this conversation likely never happens at The Trace: No one there needs to be told what the boss wants. Like we explained last week, all gun news is bad news to Michael Bloomberg—or it can be twisted to appear so.
Now remember that subhead? “An analysis of federal data reveals a pattern of intimidation-by-firearm.” There is no such pattern, of course, except for a pattern of deception—and a shameless willingness to say anything in the pursuit of an agenda.