It was one year ago that a cowardly killer ran into Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas and senselessly murdered 19 schoolkids and two of their teachers. Anti-gun activists insist that the only way to stop these attacks is by banning and confiscating so-called assault weapons, and as we detail on today’s Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co, they’re using misinformation, outright falsehoods, and emotional exploitation to push their prohibitionist agenda.
There’s no shortage of anti-gun rhetoric and calls to disarm floating around social media today, but I decided to focus on a pro/con debate over gun control published by Newsweek featuring their editor-at-large Tom Rogers and Salem Media talk show host and Townhall columnist Mark Davis. While I’m glad to see the news site allow for both sides to weigh in, the fact that they let Rogers’ misinformation to be published without a simple fact check is disturbing. From the outset, Rogers contends that “automatic weapons” are primarily to blame for mass shootings, and declares that the only way to stop the violence is grab the guns.
We are averaging more than one mass shooting in the United States a day since the beginning of this year. Most of those have been carried out with some form of automatic weapon intended for military use, where the gun has been optimized for rapid fire mass killing. There are approximately 200 victims of gun violence every day in the United States, resulting in 120 deaths per day, of which 11 are teens or children.
Have we seen more than one mass shooting a day in the United States this year? It depends on how you define a “mass shooting”. Oddly, Newsweek itself noted that talking point depends on how a mass shooting is defined in a fact-check about the same claim made by Rep. Dan Goldman (D-NY) a few weeks ago.
For example, the Gun Violence Archive classifies a mass shooting as any incident in which a “minimum of four victims are shot, either injured or killed, not including any shooter who may also have been killed or injured in the incident.”
It would include incidents such as the shooting this week in midtown Atlanta that left one dead and several others injured.
Based on its definition, and using the statistics it provides, there have been 192 mass shootings in the U.S. this year (174 as of the date of Goldman’s tweet).
However, the Gun Violence Archive’s definition is not a universal term. Mother Jones, which also collates data on mass shootings, considers mass shootings as the deaths of three or more people, a definition it has used to document all such incidents since 1982.
By this count, there have been 36 mass shootings in 2023 (33 up to the date of Goldman’s tweet).
Another common measurement is four or more deaths. This definition has been attributed to the FBI, although it’s not clear just how strictly this term is considered or used by the bureau (the FBI has previously analyzed incidents codified by the federal terms “active shooters” and “mass killings,” the threshold for the latter being three or more deaths).
When applied to 2023, it pushes the year’s total figure even lower to 20 (or 17 up to Goldman’s tweet).
For whatever reason, while Goldman’s claim was fact checked by Newsweek they allowed Rogers’ identical claim to go unchallenged, as well as his conflation of violent crime and “gun violence”, which includes suicides as well as homicides.
Rogers is also once again off-base about the type of firearm used in these crimes, however you want to define them. Rogers continually substitutes “automatic weapons” for “semi-automatic” in his op-ed, perhaps to avoid mentioning that the guns he wants to ban are found in tens of millions of homes across the country. And yes, he not only wants to ban guns, but confiscate them as well.
Both the UK and Australia solved their gun violence issues through a buyback program that required the government to confiscate guns. Our Second Amendment may prohibit the confiscation of all guns, but the automatic weapon killing machines that are primarily responsible for the heinous violence we are seeing in mass shootings could be solved by a program that requires taking such guns off the street.
Again, for a journalist Rogers displays a shocking lack of knowledge about his subject matter. As the Daily Mail reported earlier this year, gun offenses rose by 49% across the United Kingdom last year, including a 2533% increase (yep, not a typo) in London. In Australia, gun-related crimes are still taking place and the gun control lobby is still demanding further restrictions on legal gun owners decades after the compensated confiscation scheme that Rogers claims “solved” the country’s firearm-involved crime.
In addition to his ignorance, Rogers has also put his prohibitionist impulses on full display in calling for the confiscation of “automatic weapon killing machines.” We already know that Rogers has mislabeled commonly-owned semi-automatic firearms as “automatic weapons”, so it’s difficult to determine if he’s calling for the confiscation of the roughly 25-million modern sporting rifles in the hands of American gun owners, or the 100+ million semi-automatic firearms (including handguns) that are in common use around the country. Either way, the Second Amendment takes that kind of gun confiscation off the table. Rogers may claim to be calling for gun control, but what he’s really advocating for is an end to the right to keep and bear arms altogether.