“Fake news” became increasingly popular among so-called “mainstream” media outlets during the closing months of the 2016 presidential election, and remains so even now. One of the latest and best examples of fake news, however, is the media’s attempt to blame Chicago’s gun violence on the National Rifle Association.
Such an approach allows the media to besmear a much-hated enemy—the NRA—while simultaneously avoiding any admission of gun control’s failure in Chicago and of the dangers of refusing to pursue vigorous prosecution of gun crimes.
CNN typifies the “mainstream” media’s fake news approach on this subject. On Jan. 26, CNN played video of President Donald Trump referring to Chicago as a place of “horrible carnage” and pointing out that “thousands of people are being shot over a short period time.”
By the way, Trump is not exaggerating. Nearly 4,400 were shot in Chicago in 2016 alone, and nearly 800 were murdered. The number of shootings and murders during the first 22 days of 2017 was even higher than the number of shootings and murders over same time period last year. Therefore, Trump said, “This year, which has just started, is worse than last year, which was a catastrophe.”
It is certainly “carnage.” But instead of blaming gun control and/or the lackluster prosecution of gun crimes, CNN host Alisyn Camerota brought in U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., to respond to Trump.
Camerota said, “President Trump says that he wants to help Chicago. Would you and Mayor Emanuel accept the president’s help?”
Gutierrez responded: “First of all, let’s state the fact, Chicago has a problem with violence, with gun violence. More murders in the city of Chicago than L.A. and New York combined. And simply talking about it is not a solution.”
He went on to push for more police, more ATF agents and more funding. He then said: “Here’s the hypocrisy of it all. The fact is, Donald Trump loves the NRA. And during his campaign, he embraced them and they embraced him. The city of Chicago had some of the most stringent gun control laws; how were they eviscerated? Because the NRA funded lawsuits against our gun control measures.”
Gutierrez was given a pass on the demonstrable fact that Chicago’s handgun ban—one of the “stringent gun control laws” that was in effect 1982-2010—actually correlated with more murder after its implementation, not less. In March 2010—with the ruling in McDonald v. Chicago fast approaching—the Chicago Tribune described the handgun ban as “pointless” and showed how murder had surged once it was put in place.
The Tribune looked at the D.C. gun ban and the Chicago ban together, reporting:
In the years following its ban, Washington did not generate a decline in gun murders. In fact, the number of killings rose by 156 percent—at a time when murders nationally increased by just 32 percent. For a while, the city vied regularly for the title of murder capital of America.
Chicago followed a similar course. In the decade after it outlawed handguns, murders jumped by 41 percent, compared with an 18 percent rise in the entire United States.
Note that Chicago’s most infamous “stringent gun control [law]” correlated with a 41 percent jump in murders. But this is not the news that CNN reported. Rather, they let Gutierrez come on air and blame the NRA.
MSNBC let Gutierrez make similar claims. In an interview on “All In With Chris Hayes,” Gutierrez again lamented the fact that President Trump was not just throwing more money at the Chicago problem via federal funding. He then suggested Trump’s relationship with the NRA prevents him from pursuing more police or ATF agents for Chicago.
Gutierrez added, “You know what that NRA did? It crippled the laws of the city of Chicago.”
Gutierrez did not address the fact that Chicago’s track record for prosecuting individuals arrested on federal gun law violations is sketchy, to say the least. The NRA made this very point in Amercia’s 1st Freedom in August 2015:
In 2014 in Chicago, over 2,500 people were shot—nearly 400 of them fatally—and police seized more than 6,252 guns. Yet out of those 6,252 guns seized, [U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois Zachary] Fardon’s federal prosecutors saw fit to pursue just 62 weapons prosecutions. In other words, for every 100 guns police seized, federal prosecutors made just one prosecution.
And this is the real news: What good are more federal agents if federal gun crimes will not be prosecuted?
AWR Hawkins is the Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and host of Bullets with AWR Hawkins, a Breitbart News podcast. He is also the political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter at @AWRHawkins, or reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.