VPC's Latest 'Study' on Gun Deaths Does Not Mean What It Says It Means

It should come as no surprise to find that the Violence Policy Center (VPC) is…disingenuous…at best. Given this is the same bunch that lumps justifiable homicides, suicides, unintentional shootings and police shootings in with murders, one tends to know where they stand on firearms and the Second Amendment.


Its latest “study” purports to show a 17 percent rise in “gun deaths” since 2008 and conflates this increase with the landmark Heller decision which affirmed an individual’s right to self-defense.

Now, as The Oklahoman recently noted:

That the gun-death rate has increased, both nationally and in Oklahoma, is worth noting and deserving of study. But for the Violence Policy Center to suggest the court ruling in the Heller case somehow played a role is a real leap of logic.

Indeed, since Heller didn’t apply to several states, but only the District of Columbia, it could hardly be responsible for such a rise.

There are several other major issues with VPC’s so-called study. (Remember, these are the same folks who claim defensive gun uses are rare.)

VPC actually undermines its own arguments in its report (emphasis mine):

The state with the highest per capita gun death rate in 2016 was Alaska, followed by Alabama. Each of these states has extremely lax gun violence prevention laws as well as a higher rate of gun ownership.

So, it’s apparently news to the geniuses at VPC that states with a higher rate of gun ownership would likely have a higher rate of gun-related deaths — per capita. 


Of course, they don’t want to talk absolute numbers. Not to mention, they’re lumping all gun deaths — as noted above — into their figures, because for them, it’s not really about figuring out how to reduce the murder rate, but how to eliminate guns entirely.

Alaska’s state murder rate in 2015 was just 8 per 100,000 people; that’s a total of 59 deaths statewide. Compare that with Chicago, which in the five year period between 2010 and 2015 had a murder rate of 16.4 per 100,000, and New Orleans, whose murder rate over the same period was 46.9 per 100,000.

The Oklahoman points out another problem with VPC’s analysis:

The National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action notes “the longer trend line reveals some truths that the VPC would like to ignore. Total firearms-related death rates were higher through nearly all of the 1990s than they were in 2016.”

But, of course. 

Look, the VPC’s statistics, widely quoted by journalists — the same ones who love to quote from the Southern Poverty Law Center — fit the narrative the mainstream media wants to promote: “Guns are bad, m’kay?”


While the recent uptick in violent crime is worrisome on one level, it’s also a statistical anomaly exacerbated by things like the Vegas shooting and riots in places like Ferguson, Missouri.

Overall, violent crime is still down considerably over its peak during the cocaine wars of the 1990s. Guns are not the cause of this uptick, much as the VPC would have it so, nor are the Heller and McDonald decisions. There are a number of cultural factors at play, and no amount of misleading “studies” can change that.

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