Gretchen Carlson's Fuzzy Gun Ban Math Subjected to Well Deserved Mockery

Gretchen Carlson's Fuzzy Gun Ban Math Subjected to Well Deserved Mockery
(Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP, File)

There aren’t enough hours in the day for me to document all of the anti-2A ignorance and idiocy on social media, but when someone with the ability to reach and influence hundreds of thousands of people lets loose with some crazy talk about gun ownership it’s worth covering.

Sadly, former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson definitely fits the bill. Earlier this week Carlson decided to weigh in on AR-15s in response to a clip of The Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro declaring he isn’t giving up his rifle. My colleagues at Twitchy covered her initial response, which included the bizarre assertion that prior to 2004, when the ten-year federal ban on so-called assault weapons expired, “ordinary people” didn’t own them.

Carlson’s post on X was rightfully ratioed and even subjected to a community note stating “For more than a half-century, the AR-15 has been popular among gun owners, widely available in gun stores and, for many years, even appeared in the Sears catalog.” Rather than simply admit she was mistaken, Carlson took the time to make a video of her own and doubled down on her assertion that modern sporting rifles were a rarity until 20 years ago.

“You might have seen the news story about my tweet regarding Ben Shapiro and his love of AR-15s,” Carlson snidely began.

“Big round of applause for the clever detectives who pointed out that technically, a few ranchers and animal control people did own these guns before 2004,” she continued.

“And since we’re all big fans of math, here are more numbers that seem relevant,” Carlson snarked.

“In 1992 AR-15s composed roughly 21 in every 100 firearms made in the U.S. By 2020 almost 1-in-5 made here were AR-15s. There are now more than 20 million AR-15s in people’s closets and cabinets. Oh, and there’s this: in 2023 there have been 560 mass shootings in this country, and we still have two months to go. This is not normal. A world where everyone has AR-15s is just a helluva lot more dangerous than one where we don’t.”

Now, I’ll freely admit that math was my worst subject in school. In fact, if it wasn’t for the kindness of an elderly nun who was my Algebra II teacher, I probably would have failed that class and been forced to go to summer school or repeat my senior year. But despite my own shortcomings, I’m at least able to recognize that 21 out of 100 is 21%, which is awfully close to 1-in-5.

To be fair, Carlson appears to have misspoken rather than just pulling figures out of thin air. I’m pretty sure she got her figures from the National Shooting Sports Foundation, which has previously reported that in 1992 approximately 105,000 modern sporting rifles were produced out of a total of 4.1-million firearms overall, which is roughly 2.4% of total firearm production. By 2019 the number of MSR’s produced domestically and imported had grown to about 1.9 million, which was roughly 23% of the total number of firearms manufactured, so my guess is Carlson goofed and said 21% when she meant to say 2.1%.

That doesn’t mean she actually has a point, however. Remember, Carlson first said that “ordinary people” didn’t own AR-15s in 1992, and then “corrected” herself to say that a “few ranchers and animal control people” owned them. The truth is that there were 100,000 MSRs produced that year alone, and AR-15s and other modern sporting rifles had been produced for civilian purchase for almost thirty years by that point. AR-15s have certainly grown in popularity over the past few decades, but that doesn’t mean that nobody owned them before the Biden Gun Ban went into effect in 1994.

Carlson’s equally off-base in conflating the number of “mass shootings” (defined as broadly as possible, by the way) with the number of AR-15s and other MSR’s that are manufactured each year. According to the Crime Prevention Research Center, between 1998 and March of this year, about 15% of public mass shootings were committed solely with a rifle, while 56% were committed by someone using only a handgun.

Trying to stop mass shootings by banning a particular type of firearm is like trying to stop drunk driving by banning a particular make and model of car or brand of alcohol. Sure, you may be “doing something”, but you’re not doing anything that’s actually effective.

My advice to Carlson is to A) get better cue cards for your social media monologues and B) do a little more research before presenting yourself as an expert on public safety, gun laws, or firearms themselves. As it is, the only thing that Carlson has proved is that she’s far too susceptible to anti-gun talking points to be taken seriously when it comes to these issues.