America's First Freedom - June 2014 - 76

P A R T I N G

S H O T
by

John R. Lott Jr.

Michael Bloomberg, Gun Control
And Fabricated Numbers

N

o doubt, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg passionately believes in
gun control. To his credit, he puts his own money-tens of millions of dollars, and
possibly much more-into pushing the issue politically.
But Bloomberg's push hasn't been just political advertising, lobbying and media
appearances. He also funds studies that have gone overboard in backing up his
anti-gun beliefs.
To put it plainly, they have not only exaggerated their conclusions but have
fabricated numbers. And these incorrect numbers have then been used to push for
more regulations.
The connections to Bloomberg are not always obvious, as he has funded several
organizations, making it look like there is more widespread support. There are Johns
Hopkins' Bloomberg School of Public Health and two organizations of which he is the
primary financial supporter though they are not directly connected to his name: Mayors
Against Illegal Guns and Moms Demand Action.
Over the last couple of years, studies from these organizations have received
massive, uncritical news coverage, without even the slightest questioning of the
numbers presented.
Take the recent report from Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Moms Demand Action
on school shootings, which was covered in more than 2,000 news stories.
In February, they claimed that what they called "mini-Newtowns" had become so
common that the media no longer paid attention to them. After all, they claimed,
44 shootings had occurred in schools and colleges since the Newtown, Conn.,
massacre on Dec. 14, 2012. Out of the 44 shootings, a total of 28 people died.
"Mini-Newtowns?" Hardly. To inflate their numbers they included cases of legitimate
self-defense as well as lone suicides late at night when no one else was around the school.
Also included are late-night shootings taking place even off school property or at
the periphery of the grounds, often involving gangs. As "shootings," they include any
incident where shots were fired, even when nobody was injured.
About 40 percent of the deaths (11 out of 28) were suicides. Probably a third of
the cases, with most of the remaining deaths, involved gang fights. Others involved
robberies or other crimes.
Or take the oft-repeated claim that the powerful National Rifle Association has used
its political muscle to keep people in the dark about the dangers of guns. Supposedly, a
1996 amendment to the federal budget preventing the Centers for Disease Control from
advocating gun control dramatically cut public health research on firearms. The nra
supported the amendment.
The supposed evidence? A study from Bloomberg's Mayors Against Illegal Guns
claimed: "As a result, peer-reviewed research on gun violence has sharply declined. A
review conducted by Mayors Against Illegal Guns showed that academic publishing on
firearm violence fell by 60 percent between 1996 and 2010. ... Academics working in
the field describe how constricted federal funding for firearm research has discouraged
research in the area."
Some 2,340 news stories have made this claim. Yet, despite their claims about the
number of medical journal studies, what the Bloomberg group measured was the
percent of all medical journal articles on firearms.
Actually, the number of academic studies increased. They got their percentage drop
only because the number of medical studies in other areas increased even faster.

Then there was the attention given
in the media during February about
a forthcoming study on background
checks, claiming that closing the so-called
"gun-show loophole"-as Missouri did
for a while-was effective in cutting down
on murder.
The study came from a researcher at
the Bloomberg School of Public Health,
and received extensive coverage in such
places as the bbc, cbs, nbc, pbs and
newspapers across the country.
Between 1981 and 2007, Missouri
had what was known as "universal
background checks," including not just
the federal "Brady Law" background
checks but requiring that all private
sales of handguns also be subject to
such checks.
While it's true the murder rate in
Missouri rose 17 percent relative to the
rest of the u.s. in the five years after
2007, they neglected to note that it had
actually increased by 32 percent during
the previous five years. Thus Missouri
was on an ominous path before the law
was ended, and things improved after the
background checks were ended.
More important, however, was
the cherry-picking needed to obtain
even this result. Eighteen other states
either currently have these background
checks or had them during the past
three decades.
Nor was Missouri the only state that
ended this law. When all the states are
examined, no change in murder rates
was found.
But Bloomberg-funded studies
show one thing: a consistent willingness
to do whatever is necessary, even make
up data, to get the desired results.
Disappointingly, the news media keep
giving Bloomberg-funded research
massive uncritical coverage.
Lott is president of the Crime Prevention
Research Center and author of the third
edition of "More Guns, Less Crime."
© 2014 Investor's Business Daily, Inc.
Reprinted with permission.

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America's First Freedom - June 2014

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of America's First Freedom - June 2014

America's First Freedom - June 2014 - 1
America's First Freedom - June 2014 - 2
America's First Freedom - June 2014 - 3
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