Supposed explainer on guns needs to explain itself

Supposed explainer on guns needs to explain itself
AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

Explainers are an interesting phenomenon. It’s an article that seeks to demystify a certain topic so that lay people can grasp some of the nuances of that topic. The problem is that all too often, the people writing these explainers don’t really understand the subject all that well themselves.

Take, for example, a recent one I came across that seeks to explain how the US has “failed” to protect 6,000 kids.

It starts with this subtitle:

While President Joe Biden signed a bipartisan gun control bill into law in the aftermath of the Uvalde shooting, not much has changed as popular and powerful assault-style weapons like the AR-15 remain easily available for purchase

Now, this is supposed to set the tone of the story for readers, so they’ll understand what it’s about.

Yet the title is “Gun terror in the US: How the country failed to protect over 6,000 children in 2022.”

The implication is that the availability of AR-15s is somehow responsible for these 6,000 deaths.

Moving onto the actual body of the piece:

America has for long had a problem with guns and gun violence.

This is known to those with even a cursory knowledge of the United States.

But new research is shining a spotlight on how badly America has failed to protect its children from this terror.

Lat’s take a closer look:

According to the Gun Violence Archive, 6,024 children were killed or injured by guns this year.

Now, I’m usually harsh about Gun Violence Archive’s numbers, but that’s about what they define as mass shootings. I fail to see how they can misdefine a child’s death, so we’ll take these numbers sort of at face value.

Sort of.

You see, they don’t differentiate between homicides, accidents, and suicides in this total, and that matters. Suicides are a mental health issue, for example, while accidents tend to be failures in education whereas homicides are violent crimes. They each have completely different causes, most of which only intersect in one small way.

And the only ones that are unlikely to occur if you remove guns are accidents, which actually only account for a minuscule handful of incidences each year.

But they’re clearly focused on kids being hurt or killed, and that’s fair because no one wants to see that. So that’s what makes this bit so annoying.

Citing the families of shooting victims he has met, the president said, “Their message to us was, ‘Do something.’ How many times did we hear that? ‘Just do something. For God’s sake, just do something.’ Today we did.”

That is because the compromise law did not target assault-style weapons like the AR-15 and its large capacity magazines – used in both the Uvalde and Buffalo shootings – or even raise the legal age for purchasing them to over 21.

Such assault rifles, which remain easily available, are popular and powerful semi-automatic weapons that can fire high-capacity magazines.

While Democrats want to ban high capacity magazines and expand  background checks, the chances of passing such a bill both in the House and Senate range from slim to non-existent.

Even if by some miracle the Democrats manage to pass such laws, the Supreme Court led by Chief Justice John Roberts with a massive Conservative majority is likely to strike it down as unconstitutional.

The implication is clear. AR-15s kill kids.

And, if you look just at things like Uvalde, it’s not difficult to see how one can get that impression.

Yet, if every single one of the homicides committed in 2021 with a rifle were children, that would still likely leave the vast majority of those victims being killed with some other form of firearm.

Last year, just 447 homicides were carried out with a rifle of any kind.

Additionally, rifles aren’t even the most popular choice for a murder weapon among mass shooters.

You’d think someone writing an explainer would, you know, explain that as well. Instead, they simply blame the AR-15 for the murders of thousands of children when it wasn’t the weapon used in more than 90 percent of those murders.

Further, if you delve deeper into those actual homicides, you’ll find that many of them are gang-related. While the victims themselves may not have been gang members, they were caught in the crossfire during gang activities. They’re innocent bystanders, but it also means the guns used to take their lives weren’t likely to be acquired lawfully.

As such, you’re not going to curtail those murders with new gun laws.

All in all, this “explainer” isn’t anything of the sort. It’s shilling for gun control, demonizing a kind of weapon anti-gunners have been trying to outlaw for years, and pretending it’s doing the reader a service. What’s worse is that many people don’t know the topic well enough to see through the nonsense, thus they step away thinking they have an understanding they simply don’t possess.

If I’m being charitable, I’ll grant that the author just doesn’t know any better, that they’re repeating misinformation they heard and never bothered to check out. Many of you will not be that charitable and I don’t intend to say you’re wrong not to be. We’ve seen this stuff enough that I can’t blame you. I guess I’m still in the holiday spirit or something.

Either way, though, this explainer is nothing of the sort, much like many other explainers.