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Examples of Truth and Sanity Slip Past Editorial Process at The Trace

Monday, July 24, 2023

Examples of Truth and Sanity Slip Past Editorial Process at The Trace

Last month we reported on a surprising fact check by CNN that sought to hold Joe Biden accountable for several false statements he made during an anti-gun speech in Connecticut. Yet perhaps even more shocking were recent articles at the anti-gun propaganda site The Trace that managed to deliver accurate and relevant information on firearm-related crime in America. At this point, it is too early to say whether the latter examples were editorial slip-ups or actual instances of journalistic integrity.  

One of The Trace articles that caught our attention was entitled “Is Massachusetts’ Gun Reform Bill Worth the Controversy It’s Generating?” The headline alone was the first indication that this was not a typical anti-gun screed. When, after all, have firearm prohibition advocates ever acknowledged there could be a countervailing interest to the pursuit of “gun reform”?

The brief piece managed to make a cogent point: Massachusetts’ reputation for strict gun control and its current pursuit of even greater restrictions are at odds with its lax enforcement of gun control laws already on the books.

When was the last time anybody suggested a jurisdiction should try enforcing the gun control laws it has before haphazardly passing even more (and more difficult to enforce) regulations on top of them? Come to think of it, it was probably us, as this is a point NRA-ILA has made incessantly since it was established in 1975.

The other article we noticed at The Trace asked, “Are Handguns or Rifles Used More Often in Mass Shootings?

Regular readers of this page will know the answer to that question is handguns, just as it is the answer to which firearm is misused most often to commit violent crime generally (another admission reported in the same Trace article). 

Our point here is not to cast aspersions on handguns, which the U.S. Supreme Court itself has held are also the “quintessential self-defense weapon.”

Rather, it’s to underscore the obvious point that it’s the deranged criminals wielding the firearms that should be the focus of efforts to address “mass shootings,” not the type of guns they misuse in perpetrating their heinous acts. It is unfortunately true that devastating crimes of this type have been committed with every type of firearm. If the solution to the problem is to ban the weapons the perpetrators use, then it would eventually have to be applied to all types of guns.

Simply put, criminals of this type are not looking for a fair fight. They intentionally seek out disarmed and vulnerable victims. Any firearm can have terrible consequences in those circumstances.

On the other hand, when would-be mass shooters encounter armed resistance, they are often stopped … dead … before they can fulfill their vicious designs.

Yet Joe Biden and other gun control advocates like to promote the fallacy (or misleading oversimplification) that AR-15s and other semi-automatic long guns are the “weapon of choice of mass shooters.” By doing so, they hope to convince policymakers that a firearm type that is underrepresented in firearm fatalities should somehow be the focus of America’s attempts to address violent or gun-related crime.

Of course, both articles also bore tell-tale signs of their anti-gun pedigree.

Characterizing the Massachusetts omnibus gun control effort as a “reform” bill was one example. And Massachusetts is already so chock full of gun control that should be considered unconstitutional (like the “assault weapons ban” mentioned in the article) that a lack of enforcement might in some cases be the most rational and salutary policy.

Likewise, the “mass shooting” article still strained to validate gun control’s focus on the AR-15 by emphasizing its relatively frequent use in recent such crimes, as well as its capacity to inflict fatal wounds or high casualty counts (neither of which tendency is unique to the AR-15, of course). But to its credit, the article followed-up this up by acknowledging that rifles of any sort are known to be involved in only a few hundred murders annually (not all of which are “mass shootings”), “accounting for just 4 percent of gun homicides” in the most recent year for which statistics are available. That same year, handguns were implicated in 5,992 such crimes, the article reported.

Of course, any misuse of a firearm to commit any sort of murder is unacceptable. But Americans have a constitutional right to possess firearms, and the exercise of this right saves many, many innocent lives every year. That’s why the NRA continues to advocate for crime control, not gun control. And if we occasionally get an assist, however inadvertent, from the gun control advocates at The Trace, it’s a coincidence worth mentioning.

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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.