Debunking lawmaker's claim of 9,000 murders with ghost guns

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File

Illinois passed its ban on so-called ghost guns and now it has been signed into law. The damage has been done.

However, the hysteria surrounding these weapons isn’t about to die down.

In a report on the new law, an opponent of homemade firearms had some interesting thoughts.

One of those proponents is Pamela Bosley, who co-founded the organization Purpose over Pain, which aims to help raise awareness of gun violence, host community events and provide parents of children killed by gun violence with crisis support.

Bosley started the group after her son Terrell was shot and killed in 2006.

“You can take these guns and you can purchase them online, you can purchase them in the store, you can put them together and you could shoot any of us,” said Bosley on Wednesday.

The bill, HB 4383, was passed in the final hours of this spring’s legislative session on 31-19 and 66-36 votes in the state Senate and House, respectively. The legislation was sponsored by Sen. Jacqueline Collins and Rep. Kam Buckner, both Chicago Democrats.

“In this year alone, ghost guns have claimed more than 9,000 lives,” said Collins.

Really? That’s a pretty bold statement.

Especially since a previous report about Illinois’s proposed law gave a much different number, citing just 325 homicides with such weapons since 2016.

But homicides are increasing, apparently, so maybe she’s privy to some numbers the media hasn’t seen? It seemed highly unlikely that they skyrocketed quite that much, but stranger things have happened, so I thought I’d take a look and see what I could find.

There aren’t a lot of sources for running totals on gun-related homicides in this country, so I had to go to the Gun Violence Archive. While I often criticize their methods with regard to mass shootings, there’s not a lot of monkey business they can play with murders.

The problem is that it’s unlikely they track it by weapon type. Still, 9,000 murders with “ghost guns” seemed awfully high. Maybe if I just looked at the percentages, I could get an idea as to whether Collins had a clue what she was talking about.

Unfortunately for her, GVA only reports 7,325 gun-related, non-suicide deaths in 2022 so far. That includes confirmed defensive gun uses (438 of them), which drops the number down to below 6,900. It also includes 552 accidental shooting fatalities.

That leaves just a smidge over 6,300 murders in total so far in 2022. Now, these aren’t the official numbers, but they’re as good a snapshot as anyone is going to find at this point in time. If anything, with GVA’s biases, you’d expect the numbers to be a bit on the high side compared to the real numbers.

So how in the hell could “ghost guns” claim 9,000 lives this year alone when there are nowhere near that many lives claimed by guns at all?

Look, you can make whatever arguments you want about “ghost guns.” You’re entitled to your own opinions. What you’re not entitled to are your own facts.

Lawmakers can make honest, good-faith mistakes, but there should be some way to tell that it was a mistake. Instead, what Collins told the media appears to be nothing more than an outright fabrication.

In short, it looks like she’s lying and the Illinois media isn’t interested in fact-checking her on this.

Jun 25, 2022 12:30 PM ET