They'll accept/select opinions from anyone, and then let you to track down the sources to make up your own mind.
One of the problems with this (excuse the expression) "Shotgun Technique" is that
It has been my experience that, unless the article (or White Paper) includes such a link ... usually as a citation rather than an actual link, it's all too easy to accept the prejudices of the author(s) as fact.
This article (see the link at the top of this page) is no exception to the general rule. In fact, the articles usually present links, which are supposedly offered to support their claim, from their own in-house opinion pieces! (See
Let's dig into this and see if we can't find some truth we can believe in.
The original (July 20, 2009) opinion piece by the Violence Policy Center (verified expert) asserts:
Concealed Gun Holders Kill 7 Cops, 44 Citizens in Two Years
Washington, DC -- Concealed handgun permit holders killed at least seven police officers and 44 private citizens in 31 incidents during the period May 2007 through April 2009 according to a new study (http://www.vpc.org/studies/ccw2009.pdf) released today by the Violence Policy Center (VPC).
This is, of course, a National Tragedy. Make no mistake, murder of either police officers or private citizens is a problem that we must all work to eliminate.
The question is whether the portion of the problem committed by "Concealed handgun permit holders" is so endemic and so overwhelming that the obvious solution (as is hinted at by the VPC article) that issuing Concealed handgun permits to citizens should be abrogated.
The purported genesis of this article is this (hence the title of this blog-article):
CHICAGO – Yet another concealed weapons permit holder and “legal” gun owner, George Sodini, with no prior criminal record, committed mass murder. On the evening of Aug. 4, Sodini attacked an aerobics class at the LA Fitness gym outside Pittsburgh where he used three handguns, two of which used high-capacity ammunition magazines that could hold up to 30 rounds, to gun down three women and wound nine others before killing himself.
The shooting tragedy is yet another indisputable example that, despite gun lobby rhetoric, “law-abiding” gun owners and carrying concealed permit holders do commit crimes, including homicides and rampage shootings.
I do encourage you to go to the link for this article, follow the story and entirely familiarize yourself with the background.
(And you might dwell for a moment on the COMMENTS engendered by this article. Not everyone seems to accept the VPC interpretation of the raw story.)
Essentially, the facts as stated seem to be correct.
However, the implications as stated seem to be ... skewed to support the VPC basic precepts:
- guns are bad,
- guns in the hands of civilians are bad,
- fewer guns available would result in fewer deaths of police and civilians,
- and (in this specific instance) that no measures to keep guns out of the hands of outlaws yet allow their possession by 'honest citizens' are adequate to prevent outrageous murder.
Still, is it reasonable to expect that a program being conducted under the auspices of the Federal Government be "perfect"? (Despite voluminous reports by the FBI detailing how the NCIC system prevents criminals, maniacs and other 'undesirables' from being allowed to purchase firearms.)
What are you talking about Willis?
Who here expects any better than mediocrity from the Federal Government? These are the people who brought to us MediCare, MediCaid, the U.S. Postal Service, Social Security, the Income Tax, Cash for Clunkers, and with a lot of lobbying going around ... ObamaCare.
Sorry, I digress.
No governmental program is perfect, and perhaps the most nearly perfect Governmental Program is that which has not yet been enacted.
So you got to ask yourself; do I feel lucky?
After all, how well has the National Instant Check System and (more important) the Concealed Carry program on the state level ... been administered.
With our federally mandated, state-level programs to allow Concealed Handgun Permits really working? Are we filtering the "Honest Citizen" from the General Population, and vetting these Honest Citizens to the benefit of the general population?
Or is this only a program supported by the Right Wing-Nut Conservatives in support their own nefarious agenda?
Maybe, somewhere, we can find some real "Statistics", from a "reputable source", in our Search for Truth.
For sure, we can't find Truth in the Popular Media.
Or can we?
During my research, I found that even the most egregious left-wing anti-gun websites sometimes cannot resist the urge to cite their sources. Sometimes, it does not reflect their particular agenda in the very best light.
Let's look at: "Law Enforcement and Private Citizens Killed by Concealed Permit Holders"
It's only when you get very near the bottom (look for "The Tennessee Experience") that you see ... curiously, a link to a "Conviction Rates for Concealed Handgun License Holders, Texas Department of Public Safety, Concealed Handgun Licensing Bureau, http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/administration/crime_records/chl/convrates.htm"
Now select "2007 Conviction Reports Rate (PDF)".
Texas may be considered one of the most "liberal" (excuse the expression) issuers of Concealed Handgun License in the nation but surprisingly the Texas state reports do not, to my jaundiced eye, reflect a preponderance of crimes committed by Handgun Permit Holders.
In their report:
Reporting Period : 01/01/2007 - 12/31/2007
... Texas listed a mere 0.2612% of CHL holders cited for 'offenses' (160 offenders for 61,260 offenses committed). No, that's not 26% ... that's a tad more than one quarter of one percent of 5,000+ offenses a month being committed by CHL holders.
Curiously, of the 160 offenses committed by CHL holders, there are some which seem less than than immediately threatening to the community:
IMPROPER PHOTO/VISUAL RECORDING AROUSE/GRA - 16 - 2 - 12.5000%
This might be interpreted as taking photographs (not of children, that's another category and does not list by CHL holders as participants) which might be likely to cause arousal. Of 16 offenses, two (12.5%) were committed by CHL holders.
UNL CARRY HANDGUN LIC HOLDER 15 9 60.0000%
"Unlicensed carry of handgun"?? I don't know what this can possibly mean, unless it means carrying a handgun in an area which is not permitted by the terms of a CHL. Whatever, it means that 9 of the 15 offenders hold a CHL, for a whopping 60%. This is the largest congestion of CHL offenses, which makes one wonder ... how did the other six get bundled into this category?
UNL CARRYING WEAPON 3,738 29 0.7758%
Here's another category which denies interpretation. "Unlicensed Carrying a Weapon"? One can only assume that 29 (out of 3,738) offenders chose that day to carry a weapon which was not a Concealed Handgun covered by their CHL,
PROH WEAPON SWITCHBLADE/KNUCKLES 939 4 0.4260%
This must be closely related to the previous two offenses. Apparently 4 out of 939 offenders were CHL holders who, on that occasion, chose to carry a switchblade knife or Brass Knuckles rather than/in addition to ... the handgun which they were permitted to carry concealed by the Great State of Texas. [Maybe they wanted a "non-lethal" alternative"? If they were police, we would consider this a virtue, wouldn't we?]
In this small sample we see in 4248 of the relatively minor offenses (nobody got shot, or even had a gun pointed at them) 46 were committed by CHL holders ... who didn't even have a gun with them at the time of the offense. Uh ... that represents just over one percent of the total offenses, doesn't it? Isn't that a big part of the 0.26+% of the total CHL Holder offenses? Let me see: 40/1560 = 28.75%. Yep, more than a quarter of these offenses have nothing to do with Concealed Handgun usage.
How about plain old, everyday "murder"?
MURDER 371 2 0.5391%
Two of the 371 murders were committed by CHL holders.
Something to think about, eh?
Yet according to the VPC, during the 1/96-10/97 period, Texas CHL holders were arrested for 946 crimes 263 of which were felony offenses.
The keyword here is "Arrested". That doesn't mean "Convicted". In fact, that doesn't even mean "Charged". (If they were found innocent at their trial; if they were released before trial; or if they were released before they were even taken to booking ... it still counts as an "arrest".)
It only goes to prove that statistics can mean whatever you say they mean, especially if you don't feel obligated to prove the validity of your statistics by citing source of the data.
I don't have the specific figures for how many citizens within the Great State of Texas actually
have applied for, and have been approved to legally carry a concealed weapon. However, if YOU are willing to do the research, I would be very interested in any data you can provide to prove that more than 00.26% of the citizens in Texas have a CHL.
Yes, we have some Bad Boys in CHL lists; but their number is exceedingly small. Far beyond their representation in the General Population.
The Brady Bunch and VPC have campaigned for tightened restrictions on private civilian firearms ownership for YEARS, and when the Federal Government has replied in accordance to their desires, these NGO organizations, instead of acknowledging that the Feds are working hard to respond to their concerns ... have only become more strident in their calls for more restrictions, and less acknowledgments that the general populace of the United States of America actually includes reasonable, sane people who are not driven to mass murder by the simple possession of a firearm.
(Do NOT postulate this to a member of VPC or The Brady Bunch; it would ruin their day and drive them to madness, with who-knows-what consequences to Law Enforcement Officers and Private Citizens.)
UPDATED 17-AUG-09 to break down the statistics from the TEXAS sources, and correct numerous typographical errors.