Misleading Headlines and the Murder Rate

We hear a lot about “fake news.” We regularly see data miscoded and statistics misused. What we have seen several times over the last several months does not really fit any of those categories.

CBS News published an article last month with the headline, “Gun death statistics: CDC study says gun deaths are on the rise after years of decline.”

Twenty-seven days later, The New York Times published an article last week with the headline, “U.S. Murder Rate for 2018 is on Track for a Big Drop.”

Those two headlines don’t mesh well.

The CBS News headline neglected to mention that the data is from 2016, as the CDC report discussed in the article compared data from 2015-2016 with 2012-2013. The data is two years old, but the CBS News headline framed the rise as current.

The CDC report itself is less sensational but it does use two non-consecutive two-year periods as the time period for the analysis. Compared to the fear-inducing headline used by CBS News, that seems like nitpicking. The more problematic issue with the CBS News headline – and we’re sure there were others like it when the CDC Report came out – is that it is shaping up to be incorrect, when read in the present tense.

The New York Times article is forward-looking, to say the least. Using city-level data on the 66 largest cities in the country, crime analyst Jeff Asher predicts “the country is moving toward the largest national drop in murder since a 3.6 percent decline in 2013.”  Asher notes that estimating national trends from city data is difficult, but the cities used in his analysis accurately predicted the movement of the national murder rate every year except 2002. The extent of the drop is less clear than the likelihood of a drop. Asher predicts that, if the cities in his analysis hold their average 7% decrease in murder rate from 2017 through the end of this year, than the national murder rate should be down somewhere between 4%-5% from last year.

Asher dutifully notes that “there is still no consensus on why murder rose nationally in 2015 and 2016…” and offers a handful of possibly contributing factors for a drop in the murder rate this year, including better technology, community intervention programs, and, interestingly, cold weather. Asher provides links to actual research backing up each possible factor.

We understand that data analysis can take time. It takes time for federal agencies to collect, aggregate, and analyze data from state and local agencies all over the country. The CDC only recently published data for 2017, and the FBI won’t release 2018 data until sometime next September.

However, reporting on years-old data while also combining all firearms-related deaths regardless of intent – homicide, suicide, accidents, or unknown intent – with a present-tense headline is more than misleading. The CDC report includes this statement: “It is too soon to know whether recent increases in firearm homicide rates represent a short-term fluctuation or the beginning of a longer-term trend.”

Based on Mr. Asher’s work with more recent data, it looks like a short-term fluctuation.

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EDITORS NOTE: This column with images is republished with permission.

Broad Gun Control Restrictions Are Not the Answer. Just Look at These Facts.

We all know the script by now: A mass public shooting occurs. Grief and anger ensue. Calls for stricter gun laws soon follow.

Given how incredibly upsetting these crimes are, and how deeply they shake their communities—and the nation itself—such calls are perfectly understandable. If we’re truly serious, however, about reducing gun violence rates and increasing personal safety, we must ensure that policy decisions are made with an eye toward facts and reality, not panic and outrage.

The facts tell us that most commonly proposed gun control measures are already ineffective at preventing mass public shootings in states where they are currently implemented, and that they will continue to be ineffective at preventing future tragedies.

Although some gun control advocates claim there have been more than 300 “mass shootings” this year, that number is a product of using deceptive and largely meaningless definitions that include incidents far removed from the context commonly associated with the term.

Since Jan. 1, 2018, there have been 11 mass public shootings in which three or more people other than the shooter were killed, parameters derived from Congress’ definitions of “mass shooting” and “mass killing.”

These 11 mass public shootings occurred across seven different states, but three occurred in California, the only state with an “A” rating from the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. Two more occurred in Maryland, with an “A-” rating. Another two occurred in Pennsylvania, whose “C” rating still accounts for the 13th strictest gun control framework in the country.

Strict gun control may be the go-to response of many, but it’s simply not the answer to the problem of mass public shootings. In fact, since 2000, 17 percent of mass public shootings have occurred in California, even though the state accounts for only 12 percent of the nation’s population.

Texas, meanwhile, has an “F” gun control rating, yet has seen only 6.6 percent of total mass public shootings since 2000—below its expected share, given that it holds 8.6 percent of the national population. On the other hand, Washington state—with a “B” rating—accounts for 2.2 percent of the population but 8 percent of mass public shootings since 2000.

More importantly, the general availability of guns doesn’t appear to be the problem. Since 1990, the number of firearms per capita in the United States has increased by 50 percent. At the same time, however, the national homicide rate and national gun homicide rate have plummeted by 50 percent, and the number of nonfatal firearm crimes committed in 2011 was one-sixth the number committed in 1993.

On the whole, the increasing availability of firearms has not been related to increases in violent crime.

Mass public shootings rightly terrify us, but they remain statistically very rare. The same is true of firearm deaths related to the use of semi-automatic “assault weapons.” You are, in fact, three times more likely to be beaten to death with hands and feet than you are to be shot to death with a rifle of any kind.

That does not mean we should not continue to find ways to remove firearms from the hands of individuals who show themselves, by their actions, to be a heightened risk of violence to themselves or others.

It does mean, however, that rational gun policies should not demonize particular types of firearms rarely used by criminals but commonly used by millions of law-abiding citizens for a variety of lawful reasons—including self-defense.

We do not effectively combat gun violence by broadly restricting the rights of law-abiding citizens, thereby hindering their ability to defend themselves and others from violence.

Rather, we must focus more intently on the major underlying causes of the gun violence: untreated mental health problems that increase the risk of suicide and interpersonal violence, gang and drug activity that drive illegal black market firearm transfers, and the lack of economic and educational opportunities that lead to cycles of poverty and crime.

We must also increase the ability of law-abiding citizens to choose where and how and with what means to best defend themselves and their families from criminals who do not care to follow laws generally, and gun control laws in particular.

Originally published in ArcaMax

COMMENTARY BY

Portrait of Amy Swearer

Amy Swearer is a legal policy analyst at the Meese Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at The Heritage Foundation. Twitter: .

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EDITORS NOTE: This column with images is republished. The featured photo is by Quentin Kemmel on Unsplash.

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What the Fake History of America’s Gun Culture Teaches Us

Though one dishonest academic was exposed and reprimanded for promoting fabricated, politicized history, academia at large remains riddled with ideological biases.


In 2000, Emory University history professor Michael Bellesiles published the book Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture. The central argument of the book was that the culture of American gun ownership does not date back to the colonial era and, instead, emerged in the middle of the 19th century when technological advances made firearms more affordable.

Among the academic left, the book was wildly popular. Scholars gave glowing reviews of the book, and Columbia University awarded Bellesiles one of the most coveted prizes in the history profession: The Bancroft. Enhancing his newfound academic fame were the enemies he made, namely the National Rifle Association. Charlton Heston, to the glee of anti-gun academics, vocally criticized the book. Bellesiles reveled in the attention, telling Heston he should earn his PhD before criticizing anybody who has one.

Leftist scholars were thrilled to have an academic book that appeared to thoroughly demolish the notion, so cherished by American gun owners, that the country was founded on a culture of widespread gun ownership. They even admitted as much, with the publisher saying it was “ecstatic” about publishing it “because the book knocked the gun lobby.”

But even amid the ideological bias that plagues academia, there are still many scholars who value honesty and good scholarship more than politically appealing arguments. Even before the book was published, several historians were questioning the data upon which Bellesiles made his argument, which was originally published in a 1996 article for the Journal of American History. Trying to follow his calculations, nobody had been able to reproduce his results. The data was vague, the calculations of percentages seemed incorrect, and he left out relevant quantitative information, such as the base number of cases.

As praise turned to criticism, more historians began to look into his research. Bellesiles was now on the defensive, not just from people like the NRA, whose enmity only enhanced his academic celebreté, but also from sympathetic academics who would have liked nothing more than for his argument to be true. So Bellesiles started offering excuses for the problems critics kept discovering. He didn’t keep a record of his visits to the archives so he couldn’t point critics to the appropriate sources. The notes he took on yellow legal pads were destroyed in an office flood. But when the paperback edition of the book came out in 2001, Bellesiles apparently found the flood-destroyed data again to add new numbers to the tables, only to (apparently) lose them once more. They’d just have to trust him, as he was unable to replicate his own research.

Finally, Emory University hired a committee to investigate their rising star. Confirming what critics had already said, the investigating scholars were unable to duplicate his data tables, and they found significant evidence of ethical violations, including the outright fabrication of data. This included the citation of data that didn’t exist (such as wills that were never actually left behind or probate records that had been destroyed a century before in a fire), and even the records that he did use were grossly misrepresented. He also disingenuously quoted historical figures, including George Washington, that so egregiously took statements out of historical context that nobody was willing to argue it was unintentional.

In short, Bellesiles had committed fraud. Columbia University rescinded the Bancroft Prize (the only time that has been done to date), and under the mounting criticism, Bellesiles resigned from his position at Emory University.

The lessons about academia from this story are mixed. On the one hand, as many people quickly point out, it is encouraging to note that there are still many legitimate scholars who, even though they may agree with Bellesiles’s political positions, were willing to bring scholarly fraud to light. This is, of course, exactly how academia should operate.

However, the initial praise of the book still indicates the problems of academia’s political biases. It would be one thing if historians simply praised a book whose data and methods were not carefully scrutinized —something that is, frankly, unavoidable in book reviews, as such levels of scrutiny cannot realistically be conducted by every reviewer for every book. But even after the scandal was exposed, some of the reviewers who praised him indicated that their disappointment in his dishonesty was political. Roger Lane, who gave the book high praise in his review for the Journal of American History, said after the scandal that he “betrayed the cause.”

Jon Weiner, author of the 2005 book Historian’s Trouble: Plagiarism, Fraud and Politics in the Ivory Toweracknowledges that Bellesiles’s book is an example of academic fraud, but he argues that this and other left-biased cases of fraud only come about when historians come under attack by right-wing interest groups. With Nancy McLean’s recent book Democracy in Chains, which is essentially a hatchet job against libertarians, Weiner’s roundabout defense of Bellesiles and other fraudulent scholars effectively provides a ready-made (if laughably partisan) defense of her own scholarly dishonesty.

The question, then, is how this kind of dishonesty is supported by the confirmation bias of left-liberal academics. The Bellesiles case genuinely does demonstrate that there are honest scholars, as do the pranksters responsible for the “grievance studies” scandals, in which they are publishing hoax papers in order to expose the ability to get intellectually vapid research published by appealing to current political trends. But these academics, who are clearly trying to combat the very environment that allowed Bellesiles work to be published in the first place, are being treated as pariahs. Bellesiles is considered an outlier—an embarrassment to the profession but potentially less because of his fraud, per se, and more because he conducted his dishonesty so blatantly that he couldn’t avoid exposure. The academic trends since Arming America was published give some indication for optimism, such as the “grievance studies” professors and the legitimate critics of Bellesiles, but they also demonstrate just how far academia has fallen (or, alternatively, how bad it has always been) in the name of fashionable political agendas.

This article was reprinted from the Mises Institute.

COLUMN BY

Chris Calton

Chris Calton

Chris Calton is a graduate student of history at Marshall University.

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EDITORS NOTE: This column with images is republished with permission.

Major Concerns with Florida’s Marjory Douglas Stoneman HS Public Safety Law (SB 7026)

Florida Senator Kelli Stargel

Winter Haven 912 is meeting with Florida Senator Kelli Stargel on December 17th, 2018 and to say the least, we feel the same way as she does.  We citizens feel totally betrayed by the passage of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Act.  We all feel strongly about this law, but personally I am now and have been outraged since this law was even brought out of committee.

I am providing a pre-meeting discussion sheet (below), which may interest you. 

You are welcome to post it and or send it to your Florida state legislators and other activists to use as they see fit in order to trigger grassroots activism. It is imperative that legislators feel the ire of Floridians who support the U.S. Constitution and the Second Amendment and make serious changes to this law or better yet, scrap it and start over.


Concerns with (SB 7026) Marjory Douglas Stoneman HS Public Safety Law

The citizens of the Winter Haven 912 are extremely concerned about SB7026. We have openly expressed our concerns about this law since it was introduced. This law directly violates the Constitutional rights of citizens and we are frankly amazed that legislators who we knew to be conservatives, voted yes without serious scrutiny/work to make corrections before voting.  When SB 7026 was introduced, we (foolishly) assumed such a blatantly offensive law would never be considered in a strong Republican-led legislature.

The Constitutional rights that have now been compromised for law abiding citizens due to the paid-for riots of high school youth allowed to take over the Capitol in Florida is unimaginable. We now have $400,000,000 added to the Florida budget, ANOTHER bureaucracy that now saddles Florida taxpayers, bad law that will likely be struck down in court, and waste money and time after a law-abiding citizen’s rights are blatantly violated by law enforcement thanks to legislators that were once trustworthy in our eyes.

It has been obvious that something needed to be done about school security and ensuring that law enforcement, school boards and lawmakers do their jobs. The Parkland massacre although unimaginably tragic, provided an excellent opportunity to create a sensible piece of legislation that could TRULY make Florida kids safe in school. Politicians threw this opportunity away like trash.

An organized “movement”, driven and paid for by left-wing activists manipulated and used the children of Florida to move us a step closer to the socialist dream of gun control. The Left had a field day and used our children as tools to achieve their end – to the everlasting shame of Florida. The leftists who paid for this outrage could care less about those kids. They do not care about the children who died or were injured during the Parkland event. They have a political agenda and that is all they care about.

The left demonstrated that organized rioting works with weak politicians in the State of Florida.  Rather than taking charge of the situation and leading, Republicans in Tallahassee bent to the will of socialists focused on the destruction of a Free American Society. It is rumored that the bill was already written by leftists anticipating a horrific event, that educational policies put in place by leftists led to this incident, and the Parkland Shooting triggered the filing of this bill. Republican politicians in Florida bent to the will of socialism.

We are aware that most democrats voted against this legislation. Their reasoning was the bill was not restrictive enough. We were horrified to see this bill even make it out of committee. Law abiding citizens across Florida are now being punished for the failures of government in the egregiously corrupt Broward county. A republican legislature passed SB7026 and a Republican Governor signed it.

Republican legislators correctly assuming they would win the November election, betrayed supporters that believed in them and trusted their judgment but as it turns out conservatives were sadly mistaken. Florida lawmakers could have called a special session to deal specifically with this law and created a model for the nation, instead they abused our trust and failed the citizens of Florida.

It is our contention that this legislation caused the near destruction of the Florida elections in November.  There is no doubt that if Florida Republican lawmakers had voted this law down solidly, taken leadership in this situation and come out with a SERIOUS BILL in special session that would ACTUALLY SOLVE PROBLEMS rather than exacerbate them, Republican support across Florida would have been overwhelming and we would have seen a very different election season.

One can assume that Florida Republican leaders are not truly interested in protecting the rights of law-abiding citizens in Florida given consistent failures of a Republican led legislature to put in place SOLID safety measures for children, failure to expand 2nd Amendment rights in Florida and habitually put people in key leadership positions who block 2nd Amendment measures from reaching the floor.

Florida conservatives are looking for leaders, thinkers, problem solvers with a spine, not politicians who bend to the political will of socialists who have nothing but the destruction of Florida and the nation on their mind. The excuse that the “pressure” was serious to “do something” is simply that – an excuse. Legislators are LEADERS and expected to do their job on behalf of citizens-not work against them because they are “under pressure”.  Politicians that voted yes on this bill had no problem listening to rioting children acting like wild animals, but there was NO legislative request for input from conservative voters, the driving force for putting them into office. Passing this law was a betrayal to conservative citizens, the backbone of support for the Republican party.

Our concerns with this law are as follows:

  1. We are not aware of statistics on the practice of this law although it is quite clear that seizures are taking place especially in Broward and Polk Counties. We would like to know the following:
  • How many RPO seizures to date have occurred across the state?
  • How many seizures have proven unfounded?
  • How many unfounded RPO’s came about as the result of false allegations?
  • How many engaged a lawyer?
  • Did damage occur to defendant’s property during seizure process?
  • How long before weapons were returned?
  • Did they lose work time or experience other damage to reputation, etc?
  • In what condition were weapons returned?

Sheriff Judd provided the 912 group a series of six cases where he saw seizure of weapons as necessary, however there have been 152 seizures to date since this law was enacted in Polk County alone. Polk is outpaced only by Broward County. For the purposes of transparency FDLE website statistics regarding RPO seizures should be available.

  1. We have not heard any updates on progress of the ongoing investigation into the Parkland shooting. We would like to know when the investigation is expected to end, how much it has cost tax payers to this point and who is being investigated.
  2. How has the $400,000,000 been spent thus far and what are plans for this money and the new bureaucracy that is now in place. Citizens apparently have no say so in how this bureaucracy will be conducted.
  3. We are concerned about the Constitutional Violations that are blatant in this bill, including infringing the rights of individuals otherwise considered adults to purchase long guns, privacy rights and due process rights of every gun owner in Florida. We would like to know what plans are in the works for the 2019 Legislative Season to make corrections to these violations.
  4. Who authored this bill? Who introduced it for consideration? Who sponsored it?
  5. Was there discussion regarding the flagrant violation of Constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens during discussion of this bill before voting? How many legislators read this bill before voting for it?
  6. How many County or City entities across Florida have their Policy and Procedure in place for the practice of this law as required by 1/1/2019? Are these entities including measures that protect the rights of citizens who are subject to this law?
  7. In RPO situations, why, if this is a civil action as described by Sheriff Judd, do targets of seizure have their information registered on a national criminal database? How are targets then assured that name has been removed from this database post RPO? It is well known that the federal government collects/ retains information that it is not legally allowed to possess.
  8. Is there opportunity given to targets for a hearing prior to seizure unless the target is openly acting in a threatening manner, has violated injunctions, etc.

We recommend that this law be repealed and re-instituted in a way that will truly protect the children who attend school in the State of Florida, protect the rights of law-abiding citizens and deal effectively with people who suffer from mental illness/become a threat to society. Each of these concerns is better dealt with individually.

Suggested solutions from our group.

  1. The law is written much too ambiguously leaving room for abuse by law enforcement personnel, lawyers, politicians with a grudge against a citizen or political enemy, exes angry with an ex, neighbors who don’t like the politics of their neighbor, etc. The RPO law should be completely re-written with complete protective measures in place for innocent/law abiding citizens.
  2. There should be no seizure of weapons for anyone who has no law violation record without evidence presented by a complainant, an attachment presented to the judge showing absence of any prior law violations on the part of the defendant, statements by requesting officer and supervisor stating why they believe a seizure is necessary in this case and a full hearing before the seizure hearing to determine whether the seizure hearing is necessary, and whether other remedies could be taken into consideration.
  3. There should be penalties in place that are equitable for both complainants and defendants. The law states at this time that a false accusation by a complainant can result in a 1st degree misdemeanor. A violation of a seizure order by a defendant will result in a 3rd degree felony, effectively ruining the defendant’s life. This is NOT equal treatment under the law and another violation of Constitutional rights.
  4. Complainants who provide false accusation, should receive stiff punishment. Complainants including LEO, politicians, and anyone who files false information for RPO seizure should receive a felony charge, up to 5 years in prison and $10,000 in fines. The complainant may also be subject to paying reparations should the defendant lose his/her job, hire an attorney, or otherwise incur damages. The State of Florida should provide settlements for making victims of law-abiding citizens who have their weapons wrongly removed. If a defendant has weapons seized and it is found later that the weapons were wrongly seized, the seizing agents did damage to the location the weapons were seized from or weapons returned are damaged or not properly cared for, the State of Florida should make reparations to the defendant.
  5. There are currently no guidelines in place for jurisdictions throughout Florida to create policy/procedure for the seizure process. This is another ambiguous problem with SB7026 that will create trouble for law-abiding citizens across the state. Policy between jurisdictions should be reasonably similar to prevent unnecessary seizures or the courts will soon be laden with cases of suits by people who had weapons seized when they believed they were exhibiting reasonable behavior. These cases will waste time and resources in overcrowded courtrooms and damage Florida citizens.

Law enforcement now has the ability to create whatever RPO procedures they wish without informing citizens of nearby jurisdictions. We can be sure that this problem will mushroom and become a very effective deterrent for law-abiding citizens who have followed every letter of the law in carrying and transporting their weapons. A solution will be to provide guidelines as to what actions different jurisdictions are RESTRICTED to concerning the RPO process. The Polk county process laid out by Sheriff Judd would be a good basis for these guidelines. The process to be Constitutionally based, should provide the highest level of protection for law abiding citizens and place necessary restrictions on LE, Lawmakers and officials to deter them from attempting to use the law as a personal or political weapon, or to further infringe on the rights of citizens because of the personal beliefs of the person/people authoring the policy/procedure.

  1. If RPO is a civil action, then information should not be entered into a federal criminal database. There can be no assurance from the State of Florida that this information is removed from federal databases when requested. RPO information should not be entered into a federal system unless a person having had weapons seized is clearly shown to be a threat to him/herself and/or others. The State of Florida can hold information at the State/FDLE for cases that are resolved within 30 days with no further action necessary. Those who are determined to be a threat after 30 days can have their information entered into a national database until they are deemed safe to operate in society again.
  2. Measures that will truly protect children as they attend school should be enacted into law and NOT left up to School Boards. Specific guidelines on how and what schools will do to provide adequate security should be in writing and enforced by FDLE. School boards that fail to meet these standards should be removed from their seats and/or brought up on charges should a child or school employee be injured or killed because standards set by FDLE were not being practiced as outlined by Florida law.
  3. Teachers and other school personnel should be allowed to be highly trained and armed as they wish. Security guards should be hired at every school in the state and funds should be provided by the FL DOE to pay these guards. Highly trained/armed school personnel in schools during operational hours and hired security teams present during key times, such as opening and closing hours, will minimize the chance of another Parkland type incident.
  4. Money from the $400,000,000 should be dedicated to physical security including fences, locked gates, security measures for classrooms such as bulletproof barriers that can be quickly erected by classroom attendees and training for students including reacting to volatile situations in a calm manner to save lives, effective self defense and reacting to terrorist incidents.
  5. There should be NO students in public schools who have dropped out/are attempting to obtain GED, committed a felony, become a parent, or bullied others. Such students should be relegated to tightly controlled classrooms where parents are required to be heavily involved in the education, discipline and life skills training of their child. Parents should also be required to stand with their child at disciplinary hearings and subject to arrest/prosecution if they are found to have neglected the educational requirements of their child. All students in this environment should undergo periodical mental health evaluations provided by the school system to determine mental state. They should be required to undergo regular drug tests as should their parents. There should, under any circumstances, be NO students in Florida schools who cannot prove citizenship.

Students who engage in problem behavior should be moved from the main population of the school and sent to an environment within the school heavily monitored by security personnel and/or SRO and subject to arrest if they cause problems in class. Parents should accompany them to and from school and stand with them during disciplinary hearings. Should unacceptable behavior continue, the student should be relegated to the environment stated above. Discipline in schools should be reinstated in an effective manner and the rules for such discipline should be outlined by the State Dept of Education NOT local school boards.

  1. Sheriff Judd stated that most of the cases of weapons seizures he encounters could also be considered Baker Act Material. Most of these cases have long histories of mental health problems and long histories of improper attention from authorities. In the Parkland Case, the school system and law enforcement failed at every level to react to a credible threat. Other law enforcement agencies and education systems should be put on notice, in writing that they will be held accountable if they fail these children and the citizens of Florida. Procedures should be put in place for dealing with these cases up to the point where it becomes necessary for procedures such as the RPO to be put in place. If this happens, we will have very few cases become necessary for Baker Act and/or RPO in the future. If we create truly safe and secure learning environments, we will never have another Parkland type incident in Florida.

Those who do not like these standards put in place to protect Florida Citizens who wish to live under the law and provide a safe, good and effective education for their children are welcome to leave the state and go to a State that does not care about these things and REPUBLICAN/CONSERVATIVE lawmakers should be proclaiming this publicly and loudly while they right this wrong they have done to Florida citizens.

For conservative voters across Florida the answers to these questions and attention given to this law in the upcoming legislative session will give considerable weight to who wins primaries and who retains or gains seats in offices that come up for election.  It is a tragedy that citizens in a nation like ours are forced to keep a watchful eye on a government that cannot be trusted to defend our rights. We faithfully elect Republicans because we believe that they will protect our Constitutional rights. We understand inherently that democrats have little to no interest in protecting citizen rights unless the exercise of those rights will cause destruction i.e. paid rioters in the Capitol, destroying property and causing bodily harm, which is the reason they are not in power in the State of Florida.

Defending The Second Amendment — Must View 5 Minute Video

The 5 minute video below is a must view for everyone who loves the U.S. Constitution and realizes how important the 2nd Amendment is to defending it and our way of life against TYRANNY! We must also realize how much our 2nd Amendment and other rights are under constant attack by the left.

The gentleman in the video justifiably lambastes members of his outgoing City Counsel who have imposed socialism and gun control on his bankrupt city outside Los Angeles, California.

This man has great Courage to speak his mind and is an example for all of us in the Winter Haven 912 currently involved in trying to change the bad gun control portions of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS Public Safety Law (SB 7026) which contains violations of our 2nd, 4th, 5th and 14th Amendment rights to keep and bear arms without infringement; to prohibit unlawful search and seizures and to provide Due Process. We must stop this chipping away at our rights or we will loose them entirely.

EDITORS NOTE: The featured photo is by Kyle Johnson on Unsplash.

VIDEO: Arkansas Governor Says No Mandate Needed on Armed Presence at Schools

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Guns and Taxes

David Hogg wants a federal tax on firearms and ammunition. He has repeatedly broached the idea, including multiple times on Twitter, and only sometimes suggests a use for the tax revenue. Hogg’s tweets on a federal gun tax include references to implementing the same sort of licensing and permitting requirements as the government requires to drive a car or funding “gun violence” research.

We’ve previously addressed the problem with comparing “gun violence” and motor vehicle accidents or smoking, and the problem with anti-gun research, so we’ll focus exclusively on Hogg’s tax idea.

Except it isn’t Hogg’s idea. The idea of a tax on firearms and ammunition predates Hogg by about a hundred years. A moment on Google would have shown Mr. Hogg as much.

The Firearms and Ammunition Excise Tax (FAET) was first imposed in 1919. In 1937, the Pittman-Robertson Act directed all revenue from FAET and related excise taxes to be used for hunting-related activities. The FAET includes a 10% tax on the sale price of pistols and revolvers and 11% of the sale price of other firearms and ammunition, and 11% tax on archery equipment. The tax is applied whether or not the equipment is likely to be used for hunting. The U.S. Department of the Treasury Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau provides an informative reference guide, and the Congressional Research Service compiled a report on the tax and relevant legislative proposals just this past March.

The Pittman-Robertson Act funds acquisition and improvement of wildlife habitat, introduction of wildlife into suitable habitat, research into wildlife problems, surveys and inventories of wildlife problems, acquisition and development of access facilities for public use, and hunter education programs, including construction and operation of public target ranges.

More than $12 billion has been collected under the Pittman-Robertson Act of 1937, including more than $761 million in fiscal year 2017 alone. Revenues from the tax are placed into the Wildlife Restoration Trust Fund and distributed to the states and U.S. territories.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearms industry trade association, put together an informative video about how the excise tax supports conservation efforts and an infographic showing how the money collected from under the Act has impacted species.

Spoiler alert: the white-tailed deer population went from 500,000 in 1900 to 32 million today, and the waterfowl population grew from few to 44 million. There are similar success stories for other species, all made possible through the excise tax on firearms and ammunition.

The Firearms and Ammunition Excise Tax is public information, as is the distribution of funds. Awareness of the tax may be low, but that doesn’t make the tax any less real. More than three-quarters of a billion dollars was collected last year; such an amount does not go unnoticed, particularly by the state wildlife agencies that depend on that funding for research and conservation efforts.

Mr. Hogg and others who want a federal tax on firearms and ammunition, would be well-served by spending a bit of time researching an idea before they start issuing demands.

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EDITORS NOTE: This column with images and video is republished with permission.

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EDITORS NOTE: This column with video and images is republished with permission.

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EDITORS NOTE: This column with video and images is republished with permission. The featured photo is by Josh Rocklage on Unsplash.

Anti-Gun Researchers Undermine the Anti-Gun Narrative

We have good news from a joint effort between the Violence Prevention Research Program at the UC Davis School of Medicine and the Center for Gun Policy and Research at the Johns Hopkins University.

Comprehensive background checks and prohibitions based on violent misdemeanors had no effect on homicide rates in California.

The latest study published by the highly-credentialed researchers in these well-funded programs, “California’s comprehensive background check and misdemeanor violence prohibition policies and firearm mortality,” was designed to evaluate the effect of California’s 1991 comprehensive background check and prohibiting those convicted of violent misdemeanors policies on firearm homicide and suicide. The study period was 1981-2000, with secondary analysis up to 2005.

Using a synthetic control methodology, the researchers found that the comprehensive background check and violent misdemeanor prohibitions were not associated with changes in firearm suicide or homicide.

In conversational language, the two policies had no effect.

We credit the researchers for publishing these findings that run contrary to their own established opinions regarding firearms. There are, naturally, some methodological questions. For instance, the violent crime index only had a low predictive value and so was not included in the final model. The variables that did make the cut included specific age groups, race, gender, poverty level, veteran population, unemployment, alcohol consumption, and the proxy for gun ownership rates. Violent crime is often associated with homicide rates in other studies, yet was not included here.

The general design of the synthetic control model also raises questions. In this methodology, other states were combined and weighted to match California before the new policies were implemented. Eleven states were used to create this “synthetic” California but the contributions each of these states made to the synthetic California are not presented in the paper. The donor pool of states was limited to those that did not have policies similar to the comprehensive background check or prohibiting violent misdemeanor at the start of the study period and did not enact major firearm policy changes during that period, but…the differences between California and Alaska, Louisiana, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin are not limited to the social and demographic variables included in the model.

But back to the findings. You will recall, from just a few short paragraphs ago, that the notable anti-gun researchers – at least one of whom joined the anti-gun march on Washington this past March – found the comprehensive background check and prohibiting violent misdemeanor policies had no effect on firearm homicides or suicides in California.

The article about the study on the UC Davis website presents that finding with some spin: “Study does not find population-level changes in firearm homicide or suicide rates…” Maybe our understanding of the anti-gun bias driving this research colors our perception, but “does not find” and “were not associated with” seem like two sides of two different coins.

The discussion section of the study itself is dedicated to explanations for the lack of an association.  The authors suggest that the problem may have been limited records in the background check system, a lack of enforcement, or maybe that there were just too few purchase denials.

Their first explanation is not enough gun control. The authors note their findings conflict with some of their own prior research on other states. They claim the difference is that the other states’ comprehensive background check policies included a permit to purchase component. That must be the key difference, right?

Ignore the fact that all three studies to which they point were reviewed by the Rand Corporation for The Science of Gun Policy. In fact, two of these three studies were the only studies considered in the section for the effect of licensing and permitting requirements on violent crime. Rand found, based on these two studies alone, that licensing and permitting requirements have uncertain effects on total homicides and firearms homicides because the evidence is inconclusive. The third study was focused exclusively on suicide rates, and was one of two studies included in that section in the Rand review. Rand also found that licensing and permitting requirement have uncertain effects on total suicides and firearm suicides, due to inconclusive evidence.

So, yes, ignore that and let’s get back to the point the authors make about permit to purchase. They fail to consider that California enacted a permit-to-purchase system, the Basic Firearms Safety Certificate, in 1994 – right in the middle of their study’s postintervention period.

Still, we credit the researchers for sharing these results and we look forward to sharing their evidence when anti-gun organizations demand further obstacles to law-abiding gun owners.

We’d like to thank the Joyce Foundation and, perhaps unwittingly, California taxpayers for making this study possible.

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EDITORS NOTE: This column with images is republished with permission.

VIDEO: Armed Citizens Are Successful 94% of the Time in Active-Shooter Events

FBI Inadvertently admits that good guys with guns stop bad guys with guns.

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EDITORS NOTE: This column with video and images is republished with permission.

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EDITORS NOTE: The featured photo is by Zhang H on Unsplash.

VIDEO: D.C. Carry Permits Skyrocket After Recent Move From “May Issue” to “Shall Issue”

Washington, D.C. concealed carry permits jump over 1440% since District went ‘shall issue.’

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