On Monday, Josh Horwitz of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence—previously known as the National Coalition to Ban Handguns— penned an item for the very left-leaning Huffington Post website, deriding media reporters for writing articles that say gun sales are booming.
According to Horwitz, the reporters are wrong because their claims are based upon the FBI’s monthly counts of National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) checks. As Horwitz points out, not all firearm-related NICS checks are for firearm acquisitions, and the number of checks does not reflect the number of firearms acquired in conjunction with the checks. Among other things, he also points out that some NICS checks are for acquisitions of second-hand firearms.
Yet NICS checks, over 99 percent of which are related to firearm acquisitions or carry permits, have risen from 11 million in 2007, to nearly 13 million in 2008, to over 14 million in 2009 and 2010, and to 16.4 million in 2011, almost guaranteeing that sales of new firearms have been increasing during that time frame.
However, Horwitz is wrong to conclude that new gun sales have not been rising, merely because NICS check tallies do not specifically address the question of whether new gun sales are increasing and, if so, by how much.
There’s a much better indicator of new gun sales that Horwitz ignored: U.S. firearm manufacturers’ production data and firearm importation statistics, both reported by the BATFE. Horwitz accuses NRA and the National Shooting Sports Foundation of not providing reporters hard data, but reporters can get the BATFE’s data the same way the NRA and the NSSF do—by visiting the BATFE’s website.
The BATFE’s data show that the number of firearms made in the U.S.A. and not exported, plus the number of firearms imported, increased from 5.1 million in 2005, to 5.7 million in 2006, 6.5 million in 2007, 6.9 million in 2008, and almost 9 million in 2009. Figures for 2010 and 2011 have not been released, but based on the trend in NICS checks, it’s likely that they will follow a similar pattern.
Also this week, the Violence Policy Center’s Josh Sugarmann—a former employee of the NCBH himself—had an item on the Huffington Post website, claiming to have conducted a “study” of homicides in California. To be precise, the “study” consisted of cutting and pasting data available from the California Department of Justice. If that’s a “study,” then anyone with a computer and 15 or 20 minutes to spare can be a “scholar!”
In Sugarmann’s case, however, it may have been 15 or 20 minutes well spent. His “study” concludes that the California data surely warrant further study of “the identification of the make, model, and caliber of weapons most preferred by this age group as well as analyses identifying the sources of the weapons” and an “expansion of comprehensive violence intervention and prevention strategies that include a focus on the psychological well‑being of witnesses and survivors of gun violence.” Those are just the sort of things Sugarmann might convince the Joyce Foundation to donate another $100,000 or so for his tiny operation to whip together, since the Congress recently banned the National Institutes of Health from using taxpayer dollars for such a frivolous and politically motivated end.
Meanwhile, Fox News ran an article concerning data that undercut the concerns of both anti-gun activists. Bearing in mind that the number of privately owned firearms in America is at an all-time high and apparently, increasing at a record pace, the article says that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have reported that “For the first time in 45 years, homicide has fallen off the list of the nation’s top 15 causes of death,” down to 16th place on the list. So much for their assumption that more guns bring more crime.