Again, the New York Times as a Fake News Site: Again cites false information from the Violence Policy Center

Jan 30, 2018 | Featured

Last December 5th, the New York Times had yet another editorial making false claims about guns.  The information from the Violence Policy Center has been recycled over and over again every few months by them.  We have written numerous letters to the editor to the New York Times, and we discussed with people at the Times. They ran none of the letters, and no one that we talked to at the Times defended the outright falsehoods on their pages.  We should have posted this last month, but we wanted to give the New York Times plenty of time to consider publishing the letter.

From the New York Times:

Genuine self-defense episodes, however, are scarce. Deaths caused by concealed-carry gun owners are not. Research shows that far from stopping mayhem, concealed-carry gun owners have been doing more harm to themselves, their family members and other innocent victims. Since May 2007, they have been responsible for at least 1,119 deaths not involving self-defense, including in 31 mass shootings and the killing of 21 law enforcement officers, according to the Violence Policy Center, a gun safety group.

Concealed-carry has basically become a marketing tool as gun ownership has been dropping. Fifty percent of American households had guns in the past; now it’s little more than a third. Nevertheless, some buyers are sold on the idea that they are somehow safer if they can carry a loaded pistol concealed from the rest of society. Politicians are marching to the concealed-carry drum as the N.R.A. beats it to sell more guns and arm more and more ordinary citizens in more and more public places. . . .

We could have gone into the false claims in the second paragraph quoted above or in much of the rest of their piece, but space limitations for letters prevented that.  For example, most surveys of gun ownership don’t show a drop over time.  Here is what we sent into the Times.

Dear Editor:

The Times, relying on the Violence Policy Center, erroneously asserts that over 10-and-a-half years since May 2007 there were over 1,119 non-self-defense gun deaths nationwide by concealed handgun permit holders (“Going National With Concealed Guns,” 12/05).

Take Michigan, which supposedly accounts for 43% of these deaths with 89 homicides and 390 suicides.  Many legitimately self-defense cases are tripled or quadrupled counted as murders.  The Michigan State Police annual report lists “Pending” and “conviction” cases, but you can’t count both.  Cases can also be listed as pending for years before going to court and most never result in a conviction.  News stories of these same events are also counted separately.  Over 10 years, 17 of Michigan’s half-million permit holders were convicted of homicide, not 89.

For suicides, any suicide by a permit holder, whether at home or by means other than a gun, is counted,  And the total rate of suicides by permit holders is over 50% lower than for the adult population.

But suppose for the sake of argument that the cases are accurately identified, with over 16.3 million permit holders at the beginning of this year, the 26 homicide charges in 2016 implies an annual rate of 0.16 homicides per 100,000 permit holders.  And the vast majority of these eventually will be found to be in self-defense.


John R. Lott, Jr., Ph.D.
Crime Prevention Research Center