by Mark Chesnut - Monday, August 21, 2017
A story on a fictional multi-year decline of concealed-carry applications in Illinois seems to be another example of media trying to make much ado about nothing—whether out of incompetence or a desire to blatantly mislead readers.
Under the headline “New concealed-carry permit applications declining in Illinois,” the report from The State Journal-Register began: “Except for a slight bump in 2016, applications for Illinois concealed-carry permits have been declining since program was implemented in 2014.”
But a closer look at the number reveals a mostly fictional story that the newspaper editors, for some reason, want you to believe is true …The report then went on to chronicle how there had been 103,797 applicants in 2014—the very first year carry permits were made available in the state. Application numbers were then 60,270 in 2015, 76,098 in 2016, and 32,930 so far this year.
To read the story’s lead sentence, you’d think carry permit applications had been on a drastic slide ever since the program began. In fact, that’s exactly what the story says.
But a closer look at the number reveals a mostly fictional story that the newspaper editors, for some reason, want you to believe is true—fake news, in other words.
Let’s look at the numbers.
In 2014—the first year permits were available—numbers were naturally very high. After all, law-abiding gun owners had been waiting for years for Illinois to finally recognize the Right to Carry, and to make a permitting system available to them. The initial run was on.
It’s not hard to find numbers to prove this phenomenon, as data from other states shows this is a common-sense occurrence when a state initially passes Right to Carry. For instance, in neighboring Wisconsin, the first full year of the carry program, 2012, saw 101,047 permits issued. The following year, 2013, saw only 68,759.
Considering that fact, it’s clear that the 103,797 number from 2014 cannot honestly be used as a baseline. For an accurate story, the 60,270 applicants in 2015—the first year after the initial run on permits that occurs in every state—should have been the baseline number to use for the comparison. And the next year, 2016, saw 76,098 permit applications—an incredible 26 percent jump!
Why did the Journal-Register decide to push the fake news of a long-term drop in permit numbers rather than tell the truth about the numbers?Obviously, a 26 percent jump in just about anything is easily recognizable as a very significant increase. Somehow, though, the Journal-Register must have overlooked that trend, instead concentrating on the “declining permit applications” narrative.
And while permit applications are lagging somewhat this year, the newspaper including partial-year numbers in a comparison with the other full-year figures is nonsensical and misleading. The Journal-Register writer and editors have absolutely no idea whether the slow trend will continue or if, in fact, permit applications might pick up and 2017 become another record year.
Here’s the bottom line: Discounting the normal initial spike in the first year, Illinois carry permit applications have risen substantially every year for which full-year information is available.
Consequently, the headline could just as easily have read: “Slower Application Numbers This Year Could Break Record Streak For Carry Permit Application Growth.” And the lead sentence could more accurately say: “After a 26 percent jump in permit applications from 2015 to 2016, early figures show that numbers could end up somewhat lower in 2017.”
Why did the Journal-Register decide to push the fake news of a long-term drop in permit numbers rather than tell the truth about the numbers? I honestly don’t know. Perhaps it was unintentional. Maybe the writer is simply bad at mathematics. It’s even possible that the writer and editors weren’t aware that there is always a very high number of permits the first year such a law takes effect.
Either way, leading off a story with a sentence that is nearly exactly opposite of the truth is fake news at its best—or worst.
Mark Chesnut has been the editor of America’s 1st Freedom magazine for 17 years and is an avid hunter, shooter and political observer.
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