Over the weekend, NPR came out with a “Fact Check” piece about whether Chicago is “proof” that gun laws don’t affect crime.
Is the “fact check”, well, factual?
It’s NPR and they’re talking about guns. What do you think?
NPR starts with Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ post-Vegas press conference statement:
“I think one of the things we don’t want to do is try to create laws that won’t stop these types of things from happening,” Sanders said Monday. “I think if you look to Chicago where you had over 4,000 victims of gun-related crimes last year they have the strictest gun laws in the country. That certainly hasn’t helped there.”
Pointing to Chicago to suggest that gun laws don’t work is not a new talking point — Trump claimed Chicago had “the toughest gun laws in the United States” in a 2016 presidential debate; his fellow Republican candidate Chris Christie likewise pointed to Chicago as a place with high crime despite tight gun laws.
Now, if you’re a Right to Keep and Bear Arms person, you know what that really means; the idea that tight regulations on law-abiding civlilians owning guns hasn’t the foggiest impact on crime, at best, and a negative impact at worst. That – crime and death, and how infringing freedom for the law-abiding doesn’t affect either – is what we’re concerned about.
And what does NPR focus on?
The Fussy Tangent: Hey, at least NPR acknowledges the real problem, sort of:
It’s also true that there were more than 4,000 shooting victims in Chicago in 2016. It’s also true that Chicago has suffered a massive amount of gun crime recently. In 2016, homicides in Chicago sharply rose, mostly as a result of gun homicides, as the University of Chicago crime lab found in a January report.
Gun homicides in the city rose by 61 percent between 2015 and 2016. That helped make the gun homicide rate…25.1 per 100,000 residents in 2016, compared to 14.7 in Philadelphia and just 2.3 in New York.
But never mind all the carnage and death. It’s Huckabee-Sanders’ assertion that’s the real issue!
But it’s not true that Chicago has the toughest gun laws in the country, as other fact checkers have also repeatedly found…”We generally think of California as having the strongest gun laws in the country,” said Hannah Shearer, a staff attorney at the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. “The whole state’s laws are pretty strong.”
The center has given California an A rating and ranks it No. 1 in terms of the tightness of its gun laws.
Ah. So law-abiding citizens are disarmed, and criminals are deterred only by the ministrations of the Chicago Police Department – but they’re not the “toughest” laws, according to the abstract reasoning of a gun grabber group?
This is not a “fact check”. This is an ideological purity test.
It gets worse.
The Mean Streets Of Hammond: NPR next revisits the old canard; Chicago would be safe, if it weren’t for those darned Hoosiers and Badgers:
It’s important to remember here that Chicago is very close to two states that have relatively weak gun laws: Wisconsin and Indiana. So while it’s easy to pick on Chicago (or any other high-crime city) for its ugly statistics, says one expert, taking bordering states into account weakens this gun-advocacy talking point.
“It’s not a scientific study. It’s an anecdote,” said Philip Cook, a professor of public policy studies at Duke University. “They might have pointed to Washington, D.C., back in the days when D.C. banned handguns and yet had high gun-violence rates. Those bans are only at best partially effective, because the borders are permeable.”
So why aren’t Indiana, Wisconsin and Virginia stacking up bodies like cordwood? If availability of guns were the problem, then wouldn’t places like North Dakota, New Mexico and Wyoming be shooting galleries?
NPR does try to drill further into the issue:
A 2015 study of guns in Chicago, co-authored by Cook, found that more than 60 percent of new guns used in Chicago gang-related crimes and 31.6 percent used in non-gang-related crimes between 2009 and 2013 were bought in other states. Indiana was a particularly heavy supplier, providing nearly one-third of the gang guns and nearly one-fifth of the non-gang guns.
Other evidence corroborates this — a 2014 Chicago Police Department report found that Indiana accounted for 19 percent of all guns recovered by the department between 2009 and 2013.
NPR has found correlation, not a cause. Yes, there are guns from other states to fill the black market demand for firearms. Every single one of them is the result of a felony – a theft (a state felony) or a “straw purchase”, a person with a clean record buying a buy and giving/selling it to a criminal, which is a federal felony.
Is it because Indiana has “lax” gun laws?
Or is it because the US Attorney for Northern Illinois announced that his office wasn’t going to spend time prosecuting “straw buyers” anymore? Because he wanted to focus his office on politically-sexy prosecutions, and nobody ever got elected to the Senate by showing off a record of prosecuting gang-bangers’ girlfriends, junior high pals and grandmothers?
So, In Summary: The NPR “fact-check” ignored the actual point of the Trump Administration’s statement – that gun control and public safety are not in any way linked, and in some cases may be inversely correlated – to pedantically nitpick Huckabee Sanders’ conceptually accurate statement about the legalities, and issue a deflection about other states’ laws that actually reinforces the Pro-Civil Rights’ side’s point.
Facts In The Dark rules this article as part of the NPR’s effort to be part of Big Left’s Praetorian Guard.