On October 26 The New York Times ran an editorial suggesting the idea that average Americans make the country safer by getting a concealed carry permit is a “myth.”
Moreover, they followed The Washington Post’s lead and argued that the .0002266% of concealed permit holders accused of a mass shooting prove that concealed carry makes Americans less safe.
According to the NYT, claims that average citizens can draw their guns and keep themselves and others safe a “foolhardy notion.” And they try to bolster their position by pointing to a Violence Policy Center (VPC) study which, claims there were no “justifiable homicides”–i.e., defensive gun uses (DGUs)–in Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Montana, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, or Wyoming for the years 2008 through 2012.
Ironically, the VPC study begins by trying to undercut scholarly work which shows the number of DGUs each year far outweighs the number of “criminal homicides.” And they do this by relying on debunked Harvard gun control researcher David Hemenway, who has long attempted to show that guns are used more in crime than in justifiable defense settings. His earliest attempts to do this were debunked in 1997, but Politico Magazine reported they “were even more extensively [debunked] in 1998 and 2001.”
Hemenway did his all to try to prove Florida State University criminologist Gary Kleck wrong, after Kleck emerged in 1993 with scholarly work demonstrating a minimum of 760,000 DGUs annually. But Hemenway was not successful, and others who tried failed as well. Kleck addressed these things on February 17, 2015, when he said his estimate of a minimum of 760,000 annual DGUs has yet to be countered by “empirical evidence.”
And it should be noted that Kleck’s work shows a high point for DGUs at about 2.5 million uses a year.
So the NYT relies on a study that uses a book Hemenway wrote in 2004 to show why DGU claims Kleck reaffirmed in 2015 are wrong. Through this twisted approach–combined with federal data–the VPC study tells us “the number of justifiable homicides that occur in our nation each year pale in comparison to criminal homicides.”
Just before concluding their editorial, the NYT points out that a push to expand concealed carry to college campuses is a “perverse marketing campaign” in light of “the gun massacre that took 10 lives this month at a community college in Oregon.” Notice that the NYT editorial board does not mention that the shooting at Umpqua Community College happened in a gun free zone; a place where students were denied the ability to carry arms for self-defense. Notice too that the NYT cites the number of lives taken as “10,” which means they count the loss of the gunman’s life in with the loss of the nine innocents.
Follow AWR Hawkins on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.