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Media Matters, TPM, and others mislead over CPRC’s interview on MSNBC: Gun-free zones on military bases

5 Apr , 2014  

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It is quite flattering that any time Media Matters and TPM spent so much real estate going after me. Media Matters’ post was at the top of their front page from late morning on Friday until at least midnight (my last check). [UPDATE: As of 6:30 AM on Monday, April 7th, their article is still at the very top of their front page for virtually three full days.]

John Lott’s debate on MSNBC is available here (April 4, 2014 from 10:05 to 10:15 AM (this version has almost the entire exchange, though it doesn’t include Chris Jansing’s introduction and first question)).

Unfortunately, Media Matters, TPM, and others only have a fraction of the total discussion. While Media Matters posts 5:05 minutes and TPM posts 2:31 minutes, the entire segment is over 10 minutes (Jacobs talked for 3:53 minutes and Lott 3:24 minutes). Possibly Media Matters and TPM just wanted to protect their viewers from my arguments, but neither of those clips show my initial points that tried to explain the logical argument. More importantly, they left out how many times over the 9 minutes that I had already corrected Jacobs as he kept repeating the claim that somehow I or others were advocating “everyone” be armed (including, bizarrely, possibly according to him “dependents,” meaning children). This claim about trying to have “everyone” carry guns reminds me of the same hyperbole frequently made in the concealed handgun debate for civilians. It is just a way of trying to freak people out.

Mediaiate does a very good job of summarizing what happened:

“Arming everybody on post seems to me a very foolish response,” Jacobs said.

“Be quiet,” Jacobs repeatedly told John Lott, the president of the Crime Prevention Research Center, after the gun advocate asserted that Jacobs was misrepresenting his position.

“Nobody’s saying you have to go and have everybody be armed,” Lott asserted.

“The current rules mean that the killer knows that he’s not going to be facing opposition there,” he continued. “That makes it — not only encourages him to go and engage in that type of attack to begin with, but makes it much more successful.” . . . .

To get an idea of what Jacobs was referring to when he was talking about “everybody” being armed, here is his comment from the clip above:

Jacobs: There are several issues here. The first is: whom do you arm? Wives, dependents? It is absolutely a ludicrous suggestion. The situation that existed at Fort Hood the other day in a circumstance in which everyone has weapons very easily and probably would have resulted in an enormous mass fratricide and you would have this all the time. . . .

Be quiet. Arming everybody on post and the attending danger in doing that is not a solution to protect the lives of people who serve and sacrifice for us. Now you can say what you want to say. . . .

Over and over Jacobs kept repeating that he opposed arming everyone on a military base. The posts are misleading because only including the last part of the debate leaves out how many times Jacobs kept repeating the claim. As Mediaite makes clear, Lott interrupted Jacobs because no one was making the position that Jacobs kept debating against. But nine minutes into the presentation it wasn’t clear how much longer the discussion would go on. Lott’s interruptions were relatively gentle.

Jacobs’ point here was complete hyperbole. Is there any evidence of what Jacobs’ claims is likely to occur before the 1993 rules banning guns on bases were imposed? Soldiers in Afghanistan are supposed to carry their guns with them at all times, but there are obviously no examples of this “enormous mass fratricide.”

Jacobs: . . . you are not going to be able to deter someone who is absolutely . . . hell bent on doing damage, you are not going to be able to deter

The standard isn’t whether you can deter absolutely everyone. The more that we can deter the better. And arming soldiers is a relatively cheap way of accomplishing this deterrence.

The problem with relying on mental health screen to stop these attacks, as the Obama administration wants, is well illustrated by the Fort Hood attack. Many of these mass shooters were receiving psychiatric care and still not identified as showing a “sign of any likely violence either to himself or others.”  That was again the case with Ivan Lopez.  The Washington Post reports:

But the Army psychiatrist who last saw Lopez found no “sign of likely violence, either to himself or to others,” McHugh told a Senate panel. . . .

Other experts emphasize how difficult it is to identify who will be violent.

Jeffrey Swanson, a professor of psychiatry at Duke University and a leading expert in the epidemiology of violence, said in an e-mail, ”Can we reliably predict violence? ‘No’ is the short answer. Psychiatrists, using clinical judgment, are not much better than chance at predicting which individual patients will do something violent and which will not.”

It would be even harder to predict a mass shooting, Dr. Swanson said, ”You can profile the perpetrators after the fact and you’ll get a description of troubled young men, which also matches the description of thousands of other troubled young men who would never do something like this.”

Military police are important and they swiftly arrived at the scene of the shooting, but it still took six minutes before they were able to arrive. Unfortunately, even this extremely swift response of the military police was too slow to stop the carnage. It shows the potential benefit from letting soldiers be able to defend themselves. From the Boston Globe:

According to Milley’s statement, two injured soldiers placed the first 911 call at 4:16 p.m. on Wednesday, roughly two minutes after the shooting began in the 49th Transportation Headquarters building. It took only four minutes after the call was placed for military police to respond. It was at that time that a female military police officer engaged the accused gunman in small arms fire at distance of about 20 feet. Milley said it remains unclear whether the officer hit him, and that the only wound he was aware of was a self-inflicted gunshot to the head. . . .

Other discussions of this exchange at MSNBC is available at The Blaze (with a short 1:51 video), Guns.com (with a 2:31 clip), and the left wing The Raw Story (with the Media Matters clip). Out of all these discussions, the Mediaite discussion is the best.

Of course, Media Matters has a long history of being misleading or errors in their posts (see for example, here, here, here, and here.
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For those who want to download the video, here it is in three clips.
MSNBC 04042014 Chris Jansing Part 1
MSNBC 04042014 Chris Jansing Part 2
MSNBC 04042014 Chris Jansing Part 3

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1 Response

  1. […] Recipient Smack Down A Pro-Gun Researcher’s “Foolish” Plan To Arm Troops On Bases My response – On Obama’s Surgeon General Nominee, It’s Medical Experts Vs. Discredited […]

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