Gun Control PR - How To
Lie With Numbers

Somebody is lying...
Statement: "One child under 14 is accidently shot to death every day in the USA" (Center to Prevent Handgun Violence)
Truth: True, if the year in question is 1979, when there were 364 such deaths. In 1990, the most recent year for which data are available, the number was 236, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. The number of fatal gun accidents among children has fallen by 56% since 1970, even as the gun supply has grown significantly.[4]
Statement: "In the past decade, more than 138,000 Americans were shot by children under the age of 6." (Hartford Courant)
Truth: No source is ever cited for this factoid because there is none. No government or academic agency even collects data to provide an estimate for the true figure.[4]
Statement: 135,000 children carry guns to school each day. (U.S. Sen. Biden and Chafee)
Truth: The 135,000 figure, also sometimes given as 186,000, is often attributed to the Department of Justice (DOJ), but no specific DOJ study is identified. The number is a huge distortion from the plausible 16,000 to 17,000 nationally extrapolated from criminologist Gary Kleck's data.[4]
Statement: "Firearms are responsible for the deaths of 45,000 infants, children and adolescents per year." (American Academy of Pediatrics)
Truth: Even if all persons 15-95 are considered "adolescents," this one can't be true. The 45,000 figure exceeds the total deaths in all ages from all causes related to firearms.[4]
Statement: "One million U.S. inhabitants die prematurely each year as the result of intentional homicide or suicide." (former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop)
Truth: According to the National Center for Health Statistics, in 1988 there were about 30,000 suicides (by all methods) and about 22,000 homicides (by all methods, including legal self-defense). Thus, the "one million" claim is off by about 1800%.[4]
Statement: "Guns are the leading cause of death among older teenagers- white and black-in America." (Newsweek)
Truth: True for black males, but not for females or for males of other races.[4]
Statement: "People without guns injure, people with guns kill." (The Coalition for Gun Control)[2]
Truth: Most homicides (c. 60-75%) in Canada are done with something other than a firearm. One is more likely to be injured by a knife wielding attacker than a gun wielding attacker. If injured, (non fatal) knife wounds are more likely to be more serious than firearms injuries according to Statistics Canada. In Canada from 1961-1990, there were a total of 15,198 homicides.
63.1% were with a non-firearm. 14.3% were with a non-restricted rifle. 13% were with a illegally owned restricted firearm. 6.5% were with a non-restricted shotgun. 2.4% were with a unidentified firearm. 0.7% were with a legally owned and registered restricted firearm. [8]
In 1992, there were 756 homicides(including self defense homicides) in Canada, of those, 26.19% with with firearms, that leaves 73.81% homicides by means other that a firearm. [8]
Statement: "Dogs are more regulated than firearms are." (The Coalition for Gun Control)
Truth: No permit is needed to purchase or acquire a dog. No permit is required to transport a dog or take a dog for a walk. Dogs are not banned because of physical appearance. Small dogs are not more strictly regulated than larger dogs. Dogs are not registered everywhere, and where they are, registration is quick and easy, available to everyone, and used to control dogs that tend to run around on their own. Registration of dogs has not been used to confiscate expensive dogs that have not been used in criminal offenses.
Statement: "Motor vehicles are more regulated and taxed than guns." (The Coalition for Gun Control)[2].
Truth: Applicable taxes on firearms and motor vehicles are the same, being the Goods and Services Tax and Provincial Sales Taxes. Motor vehicles are not banned for being paramilitary in appearance (i.e Jeeps and 4WD vehicles), having automatic transmissions, large capacity ( 5 litres) gas tanks, or colour. No permit is needed to purchase a motor vehicle. No permit is needed to tow or ship a vehicle if the vehicle is not being driven. Drivers licenses are easy to get, good for 5 years and allow the motor vehicle to be taken anywhere in Canada by the driver. Concealed weapons permits are not available to Canadian citizens. Motor vehicles are not required to be stored with empty fuel tanks and disabled engines in locked garages.
Statement: "Guns are more lethal on a per use basis than motor vehicles." (The Coalition for Gun Control)[2]
Truth: Number of motor vehicle related accidental deaths in Canada in 1990, 3798. Number of firearms related accidental deaths in Canada in 1990, 186. Canadians fire millions of rounds of ammunition every year while hunting, plinking, target practise, and competitive shooting. Target shooting is one of the safest of the outdoor sports.
Statement: "Easy access to firearms contributes to crime". (The Coalition for Gun Control)[2]
Truth: Areas that have instituted tougher restrictions on the legal access or ownership of firearms have seen increases in the violent crime rates. Canada and Britain have both increased the restrictions on firearms owners in the last 15 years, and have seen dramatic increases in violent crime and the use of illegal firearms. Areas of the US (and several countries) that have liberal restrictions, or have eased their restrictions on legal gun owners have low crime rates, or have seen their crime rates drop. Prior to January 1978 when Bill C-51 came into effect, Canada had very liberal gun laws. From 1977 to 1991, Canada's violent crime rate has increased 89% (583 to 1099 violent crimes per 100,000 population) compared to a 59% for the US in the same period. (476 to 758 violent crimes per 100,000 population). [10]
Statement: "The majority of Canadians support tougher gun control." (The Coalition for Gun Control)[2]
Truth: While a survey that asked "Do you favour more gun control?" had 80% of the respondants say yes. However when asked "What should the Government do to fight crime?", less than 1% responded by saying "more gun control". "Do you agree that the courts are presently much too lenient in punishing criminals using guns?" 86% said yes. "Do you agree that law abiding sportsmen, recreational shooters and collectors should not lose their guns because the the actions of relatively few criminals?" 82% said yes. A September 1991 nationwide Gallup poll found that 88% of Canadians favor sever penalties for crimes involving firearms, in preference the only 8% in favour of increasing restrictions over existing firearms owners, and 68% felt that passing more severe laws over legitimate gun users will will have very little influence on criminals.[1]
Statement: "The experts support tougher[sic] gun control." (The Coalition for Gun Control)[2]
Truth: The individuals that the CfGC claims are experts, are not experts on gun control. Some are merely more politicians, some are experts in unrelated fields, some are bureaucrats that have admitted to their lack of knowledge, and are simply following the line put forward by their political masters. Experts who have actually studied the effects of gun control have found that gun control does not reduce violent crime.
Statement: "The NRA worked feverishly to block all attempts to ban plastic, undetectable handguns that could easily be smuggled onto airlines." (Handgun Control Incorporated) [3] "The NRA's army of slick lobbyists even fought our efforts to ban ... plastic pistols which can't be found by metal detectors, ...! (COALITION TO STOP GUN VIOLENCE)[9]
Truth: The NRA and the Federal Aeronautics Administration (FAA) showed how the Glock-17 pistol was 83% steel, and completely visible to X-ray machines. The NRA then worked with the FAA to write a law making undetectable firearms illegal.
Statement: "When the nation's police asked congress to ban the manufacture and sale of "cop killer" bullets -- ammunition that penetrates the vests worn by police -- the NRA lobbied furiously to defend the sale of this ammunition.[3] (Handgun Control Incorporated) "The NRA's army of slick lobbyists even fought our efforts to ban ...cop-killer bullets specifically designed to pierce bullet-proof vests!" (COALITION TO STOP GUN VIOLENCE)[9]
Truth: The NRA helped write the law restricting the sale of armor piercing handgun ammunition to the police and armed services only. The NRA pointed how an earlier version of the law was so badly written that it would have banned most ammunition, including regular normal ammunition used for hunting and target shooting. The company that was making "armor piercing" handgun ammunition was owned and run by senior police officers, and only sold the ammunition in tiny quantities to some police departments and the military anyway. The ammunition was specifically designed to provide improved penetration against autobody panels and auto glass, and its design actually reduced the chance that it would pierce bullet-resistant vests..
Statement: "Handgun Control Incorporated, One million strong" (Handgun Control Incorporated)[3]
Truth: According to papers filed by HCI, their membership is actually about 250,000, although they only have about 146,000 names on their mailing list. The NRA, on the other hand, has over 3,400,000 members. In Canada, the Coalition for Gun Control has only about 3,000 members, while the National Firearms Association has about 100,000 members.
Statement: "14 children are killed by handgun abuse every day in the USA". (Handgun Control Incorporated)
Truth: 14 children/day times 364 days/year means about 5100 children killed by handguns every year in the USA. This is false. The total firearms deaths for children (up to age 14) was 587 in 1988. In 1990 the number children killed by firearms related accidents was 236. The total number of children killed by abuse of firearms (handguns, shotguns, and rifles) in the USA is between 600 and 800 a year.
Statement: "The United States has weak gun control laws." (Handgun Control Incorporated)
Truth: Gun control varies greatly within the USA. Unlike many countries, every political unit within the USA can make their own laws. In addition to federal laws such as lifetime firearm prohibition orders for convicted felons, age minimums for buying firearms that are higher than Canada, and restrictions on the interstate purchase of firearms, every state, county, city, town and village can and does set up their own gun laws. Many areas of the USA have gun control laws much tougher than anywhere in the world. Example, Washington D.C., handguns are banned, longarms must be stored disassembled. In Chicago, Illinois, handguns must be registered, but registration forms are not available. New York City, firearms permits take up to 6 months to get, and concealed weapons permits are only available for the rich and politically connected. California has a 15 day waiting period on the purchase of all firearms. In the USA the following persons are prohibited by law from possessing firearms: convicted felons, fugitives from justice, illegal drug users, the mentally ill, illegal aliens, dishonorable dischargees from the armed forces, and anyone who has renounced U.S. citizenship.[7]
Statement: "A gun in the home is 43 times more likely to kill someone you know than be used against an intruder."
Truth: This is a misrepresentation of a meaningless comparison from a limited and poorly done study. This study was performed over a 6 year period in one single county in the USA. As this study is was done in just one county, that makes its results useless for saying what happens anywhere else. Scientists and researchers call this "a sample size of one". The comparison is meaningless because it is an apples vs oranges comparison. 37 of the 43 are suicides, 4.6 are classified as criminal homicides, and 1.3 were classified as accidents.[5]
Kellermann and Reay, the authors of the study have stated themselves that "cases in which burglars or intruders are wounded or frightened away by the use or display of a firearm [and] cases in which would-be intruders may have purposely avoided a house known to be armed.."[5] should be included as a benefit. BUT, when they calculated their comparison they did NOT include those cases. They therefore undercounted protection uses by at least 500 times.[6] If the purpose is to compare defensive uses verses misuse, all defensive uses should be counted, not just the 0.2% of time when a defensive use results in the death of an attacker. You measure defensive uses by lives saved, not criminals killed, after all, the purpose of self defense is to prevent or stop a criminal attack, not kill the attacker.
Homicides that were found to be self-defense in a court of law were counted as criminal homicides by this study, thus over stating the number of criminal homicides, and under stating the number of self-defense homicides.
"Someone you know" is often described as friends or even "loved ones", but in reality this includes rival gang members, drug dealers, abusive spouses and acquaintances, and so on. Those who proclaim the 43-1 statistics will often imply that only dear friends, loved family members, and small innocent children are the ones being killed, an obviously misleading statement.
The study failed to distinguish between households or environs populated by people with violent, criminal, or substance-abuse histories -- where the risk of death is very high -- versus households inhabited by more civil folk (for example, people who avoid high-risk activities like drug dealing, gang banging and wife beating) -- where the risk is very low indeed. In actuality, negligent adults allow fatal but avoidable accidents; and homicides are perpetrated mostly by people with histories of violence or abuse, people who are identifiably and certifiably at ~high risk~ for misadventure.
The Hart Poll in 1981 found 644,000 defensive uses with handguns per year. The Mauser Poll in 1990 found 691,000 defensive uses per year. The Field Poll in California in 1978 found 1.2 million handgun defensive uses per year. The Time/CNN Poll in 1989 found over 908,000 defensive uses per year. Gary Kleck estimated the yearly defensive use of firearms by civilians to be at about 1,000,000 per year. A more recent study by Gary Kleck put the yearly total at approximately 2,400,000 defensive uses. Yet the total deaths by firearm in the USA only runs about 25,000 to 30,000 per year, and that includes accidents, murders, suicides and self defense homicides. That means a gun is 30-40 times more likely to defend against an assault or other crime than kill anybody. As accidental firearm's related deaths is about 1400 per year, including hunting accidents, the defensive use verses accidental death ratio is about 700-800 to 1. A study by Simon Fraser University professor Gary Mauser shows Canadians use guns in self-defense against assailants more than 32,000 times a year. \ Statement: "80% of deaths by guns in Canada are with legally owned firearms." (Coalition for Gun Control)
Truth: Stats Canada tells us that of the 1320 deaths by firearms in Canada, 80% are suicides (1056), 15% are homicides (198) including self defence homicides, and 5% are accidents (66). CfGC uses the above quote to imply that law abiding citizens are the source of firearms related violent crime, when the CfGC's statement is clearly meaningless.
Statement: "Bankrolled largely by gun manufacturers and importers, the NRA spends $80 million each year to defeat each and every gun control proposal - no matter how reasonable and important." (COALITION TO STOP GUN VIOLENCE)[9]
Truth: The NRA's $80 million yearly budget is largely from its membership dues ($25 per year) from over 3 million members. The NRA is forbidden by law from using these funds to lobby the government. The NRA obeys this law. The NRA's Institute for Legislative Action is a legally separate organization that cannot receive any funding from the NRA proper, and their budget is much smaller (a few million dollars). Gun manufacturers and importers lobby through the National Shooting Sports Association, and not the NRA, deliberatly to avoid the claim that the NRA is funded by gun manufacturers. The NRA has been pushing point of sale "instant" background checks of firearm purchasers, as well as laws prohibiting the possession of firearms by minors except for supervised hunting and target shooting activities. The "Three Strikes and You're Out" Law recently approved in Washington State is a NRA Initiative.
Statement: "As further evidence, a 1977 law froze the number of handguns in Washington D.C., and independent studies (one by the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the other by a Justice Department analyst) showed that after the law took effect handgun deaths in the District of Columbia fell 30%." (Handgun Control Incorporated)[11]
Truth: The 1977 law BANNED privately owned handguns in Washington D.C. In 1977 the homicide rate was approximate 22 per 100,000 population, it has since climbed to about 80 per 100,000 population, with approximately 80% of those homicides being performed with banned handguns. The studies HCI refers to above looked at the numbers of homicides, not the rates, and considering that several hundred thousand people moved out of Washington DC following the 1977 law, the total number of homicides naturally dropped, but the RATE of homicide, or your chance of being a victim of homicide, dramatically increased.
Information From:
[1] National Firearms Association fact sheet.
[2] Coalition For Gun Control fact sheet.
[3] Handgun Control Incorporated letter(s).
[4] American Rifleman, August 1993, Pg42-44, "Kids and Guns" by David Kopel.
[5] "Protection or Peril? An Analysis of Firearm-Related Deaths in the Home," Arthur L. Kellermann and Donald T. Reay, The New England Journal of Medicine 314, no. 24 (June 12, 1986): 1557-1560
[6] "Crime Control through the Private Use of Armed Force" by Professor Gary Kleck.
[7] US federal law, 18 USC 922(g).
[8] Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics (Stats Canada)
[9] Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. Letter to Florida Residents, Nov '93
[10] U.S. Source "Uniform Crime Reports for the United States 1991", Federal Bureau of Investigation, p.58 CDN. Source "Crime Trends in Canada 1962-1990", Cdn. Ctr. for Justice Statistics, p.15.
[11] Handgun Control Incorporated Fact Card (circa 1986)