John Lott’s newest piece is on Michael Bloomberg’s efforts to pollute the academic debate with false statistics.
Michael Bloomberg keeps pouring $50 million into his Everytown organization to push gun control. That’s just a portion of the money he’s spending. Bloomberg is spending money not just on the political battle, but also on funding research that he can use to push for more gun control and training the media on how to properly cover the issue.
While everyone sees that Bloomberg’s TV ad spending easily dwarfs what the NRA spends, what has gone unnoticed is how heavily he’s spending on research. Few may have noticed how heavily President Obama’s speech introducing his new executive orders on guns relied on Bloomberg manufactured “facts.”
“Congress actually voted to make it harder for public health experts to conduct research into gun violence; made it harder to collect data and facts and develop strategies to reduce gun violence.”
This claim stems from another study funded by Michael Bloomberg. In 1996, Congress passed a budget amendment that banned the CDC from using Federal funds to lobby for gun control. Bloomberg claimed that firearm research in medical journals fell by 60% from 1996 to 2010.
But what Bloomberg measured was firearm research relative to all other research. In fact, total research on firearms increased over that time.
Firearm studies soared from 69 in 1996 to 121 in 2013. Other medical journal research simply increased even much faster.
“After Connecticut passed a law requiring background checks and gun safety courses, gun deaths decreased by 40%. Forty percent.”
Connecticut’s firearm homicide rate did fall by 40% from 1995 to 2005. But the U.S. firearm homicide rate fell by 30% over the same period.
The time period is conveniently selected. Adding one more year to the data completely undermines Obama’s claims. Connecticut’s firearm homicide rate fell by only 16% from 1995 to 2006. It fell by 12.5% from 1995 to 2010.
Meanwhile, the U.S. and the rest of the Northeast experienced much greater drops — 27% and 22%, respectively, from 1995 to 2006.
From 1995 to 2010, these drops were even more pronounced — 39% and 31%.
“Since Missouri repealed a law requiring comprehensive background checks and purchase permits, gun deaths have increased to almost 50% higher than the national average.”
After the law was changed, Missouri’s murder rates did in fact rise by 17% relative to the rest of the U.S.
However, murder rates were already on a sharp, upward trend, having increased by 32% in the five years prior to the change.
The murder rate increase thus actually slowed down after the background checks on private transfers were ended.
“A violent felon can buy the exact same weapon over the Internet with no background check, no questions asked. A recent study found that about 1-in-30 people looking to buy guns on one website had criminal records — one out of 30 had a criminal record.”
Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown organization set up an Internet site pretending to sell guns, but no guns were sold.
Criminal background checks were done on the people’s names for those who visited the site and people who might have criminal backgrounds were identified, but there were all kinds of false positives.
These are just a few of false claims that the president made where he relied on Bloomberg paid research to support his positions.
Bloomberg is a smart guy. To make sure that all the bases have been covered, he has not just produced the research to support his cause, but he has also donated to Columbia University’s Dart School of Journalism to train journalists around the country on how to cover these studies.
Unfortunately, too many Republicans just respond to the facts that Bloomberg and Obama put out by chanting “Second Amendment.”
The problem is that concedes the safety issue to gun control advocates and makes Americans view those Republicans as uncaring.
Obama’s long list of false claims about guns might not get legislation through Congress, but Obama and Bloomberg are playing the long game.
They know that they can’t win on just politics. They must also change American’s views on guns. And Bloomberg is willing to spend what it takes to produce the research that backs up his views.
• Lott is the president of the Crime Prevention Research Center and the author of “More Guns, Less Crime.”