Illinois Rep's Op-Ed a Prime Example of Garbage In, Garbage Out

AP Photo/Seth Perlman, File

The phrase "garbage in, garbage out" basically means that if you start off with bad input, you're going to get a bad result. In politics, this is all too common. People who think communism is the way to go are operating from a faulty understanding of, well, everything, just to name one example.


And a lot of gun control advocates are great examples of this as well. They often start from the premise of guns being the problem, then derive literally everything from that faulty point.

Rep. Sean Casten of Illinois recently wrote an op-ed for the Chicago Tribune where he has apparently decided to personify this issue, all without intending to.

During my six years in Congress, I have received countless messages from parents and teachers concerned for their children and students’ lives in the classroom, at church, in the mall and at parades. They are terrified of what has become a reality for parents in Uvalde, Texas; Parkland, Florida; Highland Park; and countless other cities and towns across America.

I know my colleagues across the aisle receive these letters, too. But every time I see them walk into the Capitol proudly wearing an AR-15 lapel pin, I can’t help but wonder if they bother to read those letters.

The Chicago Tribune story “Pair of mass shootings in suburbs offers grim reminder: Illinois and Chicago routinely rank among nation’s worst for such crimes,” published in late January, was frustrating and sad to read. But to anyone who has worked to curb gun violence, it wasn’t surprising.

Since the start of the year, there have been 80 mass shootings and more than 3,300 deaths due to gun violence nationwide, according to the Gun Violence Archive. We don’t need any more thoughts and prayers from elected leaders. We shouldn’t have any more moments of silence or vigils. We need action.


I'm going to break in here to point out the faulty data--the garbage in portion of our program. Gun Violence Archive is a notoriously bad point of reference, particularly on mass shootings, but really for anything.

They rely on media reports for all of their data, which means mistakes made by the media are amplified and treated as if they're fact. That includes so-called mass shootings.

Then we have their definition of mass shooting, which is specifically designed to encompass as many incidents as humanly possible, including gang warfare.

We can start by tackling the number of illegal guns circulating in Illinois — many of which come from out of state. We need to provide law enforcement with the tools to crack down on gun trafficking and hold irresponsible gun dealers accountable. This is particularly true in our state, where guns trafficked from across state lines make up 50% of the total number of illegally possessed guns used in a crime.

To stop the flow of illegal guns, Congress must pass into law the Gun Trafficker Detection Act, a bill I introduced last year with U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly, which would require gun owners to report within 48 hours if their gun is lost or stolen. This bill is designed to prevent traffickers from routinely selling stolen guns, one major source of firearms used in crimes.

And then what?


If my gun is stolen, how is that going to prevent people from selling those guns on the black market? I can report it until I'm blue in the face, but if the police don't know who has it, how can they stop that party from selling it to someone else?

The simple answer is that it's not. This is just a way to punish gun owners who are the victims of a crime if their gun turns up in the wrong hands. That's it.

Casten knows this, which is why he's pushing it.

Unfortunately, the stupid doesn't end there, either.

We know gun control measures work. Thirty years ago, the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act was enacted to create the requirement for background checks on all handgun purchases from federally licensed firearm dealers. Since its enactment in 1994, approximately 4 million illegal gun transactions have been prevented thanks to Brady.

If you take into account the success of the Brady measure and the drastic increase in assault-style weapons following the end of the assault weapons ban, it is clear that gun control legislation is effective and we need to enact more of it.

And a lot of those denials were false denials. Criminals don't buy their guns in gun stores, but people with similar names do. Many of those denials were found to be wrongful denials, yet that number keeps being repeated.

And the assault weapon ban's sunsetting led to an increase in the sale of so-called assault weapons? Son, you need to knock off the stupid.


The assault weapon ban is what led to the proliferation of these guns in the first place. Few people owned them prior to the ban's passage in 1994. Yet once the government decided that we couldn't have them anymore, people started buying them in droves. Yeah, the ban just restricted features of the rifles and not the rifles themselves, but that still led to tons of folks buying them when they hadn't shown interest in such a thing before.

Casten's ignorance of this fact is nothing more than an artifact of blind obedience to the gun control cause. He has to believe that gun control is an unmitigated and unchallengeable good. That's the garbage in.

The garbage out is pretty much everything Casten has to say.

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