Any rational person is likely to assume that a political movement that uses “women’s rights” as a cornerstone issue would be all about empowering women to use a tool that can make them the equal of any man. But instead of backing gun rights, Everytown for Gun Safety, with The New York Times as its megaphone, is spinning the very real issue to make it seem like the solution is to leave potential victims disarmed while telling potential bad guys they can’t legally own or carry a firearm.
First of all, if disarming a person is done via due process (meaning the person in question gets his or her day in court and has the real chance to appeal), then, depending on the particulars of the law, this is something both sides of this debate can likely agree on.
But that isn’t what’s happening.
A New York Times opinion piece began by saying, “One bit of woeful shorthand used in tallying the nation’s gun carnage is ‘I.P.V.’—intimate partner violence. This is a category in which each week close to 10 women are shot to death by their husbands, boyfriends or former dating partners.” There are a lot of problems with Everytown’s data.
The opinion piece later says, “About half of the mass shootings in recent years with four or more victims had at their core the shooter’s killing of a current or former partner or family member, according to an analysis by Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun-control advocacy group.”
There are a lot of problems with Everytown’s data. The group lists what its “researchers” turned up as mass shootings (where four or more people were killed, not including the murderer) and then say that 54 percent of the murderers preyed on intimate partners. Yet to make their list of mass killers they included terrorists. They list the case in Dallas where Micah Johnson murdered five police officers; the terrorist act perpetrated by Omar Mateen at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando; and the San Bernardino Christmas party terrorist attack as examples.
Everytown then argues that armed Americans are not part of the solution by saying, “Additionally, there is not a single mass shooting in Everytown’s database in which the shooter was stopped by an armed civilian—even in cases where there were armed civilians present.”
Even if this statistic was true—given Everytown’s past affronts to the facts, it is impossible to trust them—these statistics don’t take into account any potential domestic abuser who was dissuaded from attacking a former “intimate partner” because the person might be armed. And, of course, there are many cases where armed civilians stopped bad guys; just check out the hundreds of Armed Citizen encounters we have posted here.
Instead of playing this one-sided game, Everytown and The New York Times should be reaching out to gun owners, as this is an issue that, again, if citizens are given due process under the law, all of us could likely agree on. The fact that their solution is not a panacea, even if their statistics and analysis were right, should be obvious to even them. Everytown does say, “In more than one-third—34 percent—of mass shootings (53), the shooter was prohibited from possessing firearms at the time of the shooting.”
The group uses this stat to argue that we need so-called “universal” background check laws. Yet they refuse to even touch on the fact that criminals, by definition, won’t obey these laws. Yet they refuse to even touch on the fact that criminals, by definition, won’t obey these laws.
Everytown and The New York Times also ignore a dearth of rigorous and recent data—surveys consistently show that that the vast majority of guns used in crimes were not purchased at a store or gun show. The federal government's Survey of Inmates in State and Federal Correctional Facilities found in 2004 that just 11 percent of prisoners who had possessed a gun while committing a crime had bought it a retail store, a pawn shop, a flea market or a gun show. They were much more likely to have bought it illegally (40 percent) or procured it from a family member or friend (37 percent). A study recently published in the journal Social Medicine found that 79 percent of the guns used in crimes in Pittsburgh in 2008 were not legally owned by the perpetrator.
Even the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has said that criminals largely get guns illegally. When I interviewed ATF Special Agent Joe Nether about Detroit area gangs, he said, “The Bounty Hunter Bloods got their guns by stealing them. The gang’s OG [operating general] would then give his soldiers the guns and send them out to do armed robberies and BEs [breaking and entering]. One of the things they’d always look to steal were guns.”
Instead of looking to disempower women, or any other law-abiding person, liberal America should embrace the right to bear arms while working with gun owners and more to do all we can to keep guns out of the hands of those who are legally barred from owning them.
Frank Miniter is the author of The New York Times bestseller The Ultimate Man’s Survival Guide—Recovering the Lost Art of Manhood. He is also the author of This Will Make a Man of You and The Future of the Gun. He is a contributor to Forbes and writes for many publications. His website is FrankMiniter.com.