It tells you a lot about gun control that those who promote it think that they can’t do so honestly and forthrightly.
Take Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown and “Moms Demand Action” anti-gun groups, as examples. Last week, almost two years to the day since the terrible crime at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, they released a “report” and a video advertisement designed to scare the American people into believing that crimes like the one in Newtown are commonplace.
The anti-gunners’ “report” claims that there have been 95 “school shootings” since the one in Newtown, while the video ad portrays schoolchildren being subjected to a school lockdown drill, as if to suggest that attacks like the one in Newtown are commonplace.
Happy to go along with the fraud are, as usual, elements of the news media that favor gun control. For example, USA Today reported the “95” claim as if prior such claims were uncontested. It failed to mention that several months ago, when the anti-gunners’ claimed that there had been 74 “school shootings” since the one in Newtown, a number of groups attacked the count’s methodology, and the Tampa Bay Tribune FactChecker rated the claim “mostly false.”
The reason was, as former President Bill Clinton might have said, “It all depends on how you define ‘school shootings.’” What the Tribune discovered was that Bloomberg’s operatives had counted as a “school shooting” virtually any instance in which a gun was fired on or near the campus of any primary or secondary school or college or university, whatever the circumstances. Those compiling the count did not attempt to distinguish incidents based on whether the persons involved had anything to do with the schools, whether anyone was injured or killed, or whether the incident took place during school hours.
The anti-gunners had even included self-defense shootings as “school shootings,” one of many ethical lapses for which they were criticized on NationalReview.com by hard-hitting reporter Charles C. W. Cooke.
Everytown and “Moms Demand Action” at least omitted self-defense shootings from their new “95” list. Yet the list still seeks to exploit public horror of Newtown-like incidents and to exaggerate the prevalence of such exceedingly rare occurrences. Of the 95 incidents listed, 23 resulted in fatalities. Of these 23 incidents, eight were unrelated to the schools where the crimes took place or to school-sponsored events. For example, in one incident, a man killed family members he had arranged to meet in a school parking lot.
The remaining 15 fatal incidents encompassed 19 murders, two suicides, and one accidental death among students, teachers and other school employees. Perpetrators included gang members, students, school employees and other persons not associated with the schools. While every such incident is deplorable, the picture that emerges upon closer examination is a far cry from the anti-gunners’ suggestion that crimes of the type and scale of Newtown have been occurring on a regular basis during the last two years.
The anti-gunners’ repetitive “school shootings” mischaracterization is only one of many deceptions the groups use to try to generate support for so-called “universal” background checks.
Both of Bloomberg’s groups continue to claim that 40 percent of firearms are sold without a background check, more than a year after the Washington Post FactChecker gave President Obama “Three Pinocchios” for making the claim. The Post’s critique noted that the authors of the study upon which the claim is supposedly based say they “don’t know the current percentage — nor does anyone else.”
Both groups additionally claim that background checks stop criminals from getting guns, even though federal studies in 1991, 1997 and 2004 show that people imprisoned for gun crimes get guns mostly by theft, from the black market, or from acquaintances. Moreover, nearly half of illegally trafficked guns originate with straw purchasers. Background checks do not and cannot stop any of these things from happening.
Both groups further claim that people can buy guns “online,” without acknowledging that federal law prohibits transferring a firearm to a person known or reasonably suspected of being prohibited from possessing firearms, and prohibits transferring a firearm across state lines to a person who is not a federally licensed firearm dealer (FFL).
Perhaps the most blatant falsehood is the claim by both groups that a “loophole” exists in federal law where background checks are concerned. Nothing could be further from the truth. In passing and amending the Gun Control Act of 1968, as well as the Brady Act in 1993, which created the FFL/background check system in effect today, Congress deliberately distinguished between licensed retail sales and occasional, casual transfers between private parties.
In the Preamble to the 1968 Act, Congress stated “it is not the purpose of the title to place any undue restrictions or burdens on law-abiding citizens . . . or provide for the imposition by Federal regulations of any procedures or requirements other than those reasonably necessary to implement and effectuate the provisions of this title.”
The 1968 Act required a person to obtain an FFL if “engaged in the business” of selling firearms. In 1986, Congress clarified what “engaged in the business” meant. The 1986 language, still in effect, states that “engaged in the business means . . . a person who devotes time, attention, and labor to dealing in firearms as a regular course of trade or business with the principal objective of livelihood and profit through the repetitive purchase and resale of firearms ….” It goes on to state that “such term shall not include a person who makes occasional sales, exchanges, or purchases of firearms for the enhancement of a personal collection or for a hobby, or who sells all or part of his personal collection of firearms.”
In 1993, Congress imposed the Brady Act, requiring FFLs to conduct a background check when transferring a firearm to an unlicensed person. Congress, as it had done in 1968 and 1986, again clearly distinguished between FFLs and private gun owners, imposing the Brady Act’s background check requirement only on transfers conducted by FFLs. It did so not because of a loophole, but by design. Furthermore, it was gun control supporters who wrote the Brady Act. If they had wanted Congress to impose the same requirements on transfers between private gun owners, as on those conducted by FFLs, they could have written their legislation accordingly and taken their chances on getting it approved.
Anti-gun activists have promised to make “universal” background checks their priority in 2015. However, as the anti-gunners’ fundamental dishonesty becomes more widely known, their chances of moving America toward national gun registration should decrease decisively.