Saturday, July 18, 2020

More Media Misconduct

The sheer dishonesty and calumny of this story from the Washington (Com)Post would be stunning if it were not so incredibly common.


As someone who spends far too much time following news stories about gun violence and especially mass shootings, I can call bullshit immediately.

The spike in gun sales is well known and documented. It is documented based on statistics from the background checks performed by licensed firearms dealers prior to completing a sale or transfer. The people purchasing firearms in this manner must pass the "instant" background check meaning they do not have on record a felony conviction or a conviction for a misdemeanor domestic violence crime. In short, these are law abiding people or at the very least people who have never been caught and convicted of a crime.

Now the people who are responsible for the rash of shootings we are seeing in urban areas across the country, especially in locales where gun ownership is virtually banned? Well those folks are generally not buying their firearms at FFL licensed dealers, they are buying illegal firearms out of car trunks. Often the people arrested for shootings already have a prior conviction for a number of crimes and especially for illegally possessing firearms. Somehow they keep getting firearms. Weird.

The author of this piece, one Christopher Ingraham, claims to be some sort of data guru but here he has clearly been handed a conclusion (legal gun sales are leading to spiking gun violence) and then forces the "data" to support his conclusion. He bases his story on two "studies", one from the Brookings Insitute and one from UC-Davis. Here is his take on the Brookings study:

The Brookings study, after examining federal background check data, estimated an additional 3 million firearms were sold from March through June, compared with the same period in previous years. That’s roughly equivalent to the spike in gun purchases observed following the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting and more than 50 percent higher than would have been expected for June sales.

Nearly half of those 3 million additional sales happened in June, after several days of protests sparked by Floyd’s killing in police custody. Researchers Phillip Levine and Robin McKnight of Wellesley College wrote that the spike differed from previous gun-buying binges because it was not driven by fear of pending restrictions but rather by anxiety and unease over the ongoing crises.

Not much controversial there. Gun sales are wayyyyyy up this year, I have documented this with glee on a number of occasions. That in and of itself is interesting but does nothing to support his implied claim that there is a connection between a surge in gun buying and gun violence. Guns don't just shoot people, for a gun to be involved in gun violence, someone has to use that gun. That sort of information isn't enough to whip the people who read the WaPo into a frenzy so he added this risible claim:

The 2020 gun surge is different in at least one other respect: Purchases have been higher in states with greater levels of racial animus. Levine and McKnight approximated state-level racism using data on Google searches for the n-word, an approach used by social scientists in the past.

“We find that states where individuals are more likely to search for racial epithets experienced larger increases in June firearm sales,” they wrote, “even after adjusting for the personal security concerns that likely generated the March spikes in gun sales.” This is a new development: Running the same analysis on previous spikes in gun-buying yielded no correlation between racial animus and purchasing behavior.

They conclude their analysis on an ominous note: “In a society fraught with racial tension, it is not clear that dismantling the police and seeing more private citizens purchase guns will lead to a safer world.”

Huh? By most accounts I would be considered a "racist" in our contemporary society, not just because I am White and therefore deemed inherently "racist" but because I also refuse to color within the lines when it comes to conversations about race. From my recollection I have never Googled words like nigger and I can't think of a reason I would.

What is missing from this stunning and brave analysis is any connection between "racism" and gun violence. The stereotypical racist rednecks are not the people shooting blacks in American cities. Other blacks are responsible. What is the point of this claim? The rise in gun violence in America is overwhelmingly tied to increased intra-racial shootings among blacks and mestizos. Even if someone bought a gun after Googling "Best guns for protecting me from niggers", that has nothing to do with blacks shooting each other. Just for fun, I did Google that phrase and it was decidedly unhelpful in encouraging me to purchase a firearm. 😢 Indiana just moved up the ranks of "racist" states thanks to me.

However, what it does accomplish is two-fold:

First, it reinforces the general belief among the kind of people who read the Washington Post that White people in America are out hunting down colored folk and shooting them at random. The hatred for White working and middle class Americans in the interior of America coming from the audience of WaPo far outweighs the racial animus of Nick Cannon and Louis Farrakhan.

Second, it serves to deflect attention from what most of us know, that blacks were already responsible for most of the gun violence in America and that in 2020 that trend is accelerating. The media is already actively seeking to disguise this trend by tactics like ceasing the publication of mugshots in new stories because those mugshots so often include a glowering black man. If there is a single issue that can get Trump's base and even normal White voters who find Trump distasteful to show up and vote for him, it is the threat of urban violent crime. Obviously that can't be allowed to happen so the media tries to create an alternate explanation for gun crimes, specifically White people legally purchasing firearms.

In the next section, it really goes off the rails when he addresses the second study from UC-Davis:

That question is directly addressed in the second paper, by a team from the University of California Firearm Violence Research Center. Led by Julia Schleimer, the team similarly found a massive increase in gun-buying during the first half of the year. They then focused on the question of whether, at the state level, those purchases are linked to an increase in gun violence.

To do that, they turned to data compiled by the Gun Violence Archive, an organization that maintains a real-time database of shootings by scouring news reports, police reports and public records. The analysis attempts to correct for a number of other factors that would plausibly affect rates of gun violence, such as covid-19 cases and deaths, the presence of stay-at-home orders, social distancing adherence, demographic factors and even temperature and precipitation.

In the end, they estimated, firearm violence nationally jumped nearly 8 percent from March through May because of excess gun-buying; that’s “776 additional injuries associated with purchasing spikes.” That may be an undercount: The Brookings study indicated gun sales jumped even higher in June, with potentially even greater effects on rates of gun violence.

Notice the neat little trick. They look at national trends on gun purchasing and raw numbers of gun violence from the Gun Violence Archive, a website I have open on my browser every day as they track mass shootings. What they don't do is make a connection between the two. Ingraham even admits this in this line nestled deep in the story:

The authors caution that a study of this nature cannot prove causality, particularly at a time of massive social upheaval in a country dealing with an unprecedented public health crisis as well as a nationwide protest movement.

The authors even admit that the study does not prove causality but the story clearly is aimed at creating the illusion of causality for the reader. That paragraph undermines everything else he wrote, which is why it is dropped deep into the story.

The increase in legal gun sales has no direct or even plausible indirect relationship to the increase in gun violence. They are two different data points that share one aspect, firearms. It would be like saying that an increase in new car sales was fueling an increase in illegal street racing, even though brand new cars are rarely used in illegal street racing.

The surging gun violence numbers are blamed on economic uncertainty, on the coronavirus lockdowns and racial unrest but that isn't the real reason. The real reason is what I and others call the Freddy Grey effect: as police back off enforcement activities in response to claims of police brutality, the black community responds with increased lawlessness. Absent the near constant police presence to discourage violent crime, black and mestizo criminals are emboldened to commit more violent crime with reduced concern for consequences and typically the victims of these crimes are other blacks and mestizos.

The people who have been buying firearms in record numbers through legal means are getting their gun, maybe taking a class or hitting the range, buying up all the ammo in sight and then putting their new AR or Glock away, desperately hoping that they never have to use it to shoot someone. They are not buying these guns to commit violent crime, they are buying them to protect themselves from violent crime. That is the opposite of what Christopher Ingraham is trying to convince his readers is happening.

His narrative: increased purchases of firearms is resulting in increased gun violence.

The reality: increased gun violence is leading to increased purchased of firearms.

In other words, there is a connection but it is exactly the opposite of what Ingraham is claiming. The people I have met who are buying firearms, many of them buying their first gun that is not a hunting rifle or shotgun, are doing so because of concern that the increased instability and violence in our cities is going to get worse and spill over into suburban and rural America. My sample size for people who fall into that category is pretty significant and relevant and I am sure it is more compelling than some journalist in D.C. who bases his conclusions on partisan gun-control studies. Ingraham completes his hit piece on American gun owners with this:

The research suggests that at least some of the spike in gun purchases is driven by racist beliefs and attitudes among white Americans.

And while many new gun buyers are motivated by wanting to secure their safety, the research also suggests that every gun purchased is a step toward a more violent society.

Again, nothing he wrote in his final two sentences is any more honest than the rest of this hack job. He writes:

- White people buying guns are racist and are buying guns because they are racist.

- Buying legal firearms makes our society more violent.

When in fact....

- There is no evidence other than the ludicrous measurement based on "Google searches including the word nigger" that people in a particular state are more "racist"

- The people buying firearms legally are rarely involved in gun violence and the people who are committing the gun violence are obtaining their firearms through illegal means.

Having said that, a decent journalist could have done some investigation and looked into the number of firearms stolen from legal gun owners that are later used in crimes and considered whether having a ton of new gun owners who might not be equipped to store their new firearm securely, for example by having a gun safe, are leading to an increase in the number of firearms available to criminals via theft. After all, most people buying their first handgun are probably not buying a 1000 pound gun safe to store it securely. Ingraham is unfortunately not a decent journalist and that sort of research does little to advance his ethno-masochistic claims that racist White people are stocking up on guns so we can shoot the colored folks. He is far from an unbiased source. Based on his Twitter account, Christopher Ingraham is a garden variety "Orange Man Bad" leftist ideologue which is pretty much the cost of doing business in American journalism.

Ingraham doesn't know anything about firearms and doesn't appear to know anything about gun crime in America. What qualifies him to write on those subjects for the paper of record in the Imperial Capitol is that he can be relied upon to pump out trash like this piece, regurgitating leftist talking points while avoiding the real hard work of investigative reporting.

If he had taken the time to understand the world of firearms and gun violence in America, he would have discovered that there are two different gun worlds in America

In one gun world, the world where I live, traditional Americans have a long history of responsible gun ownership. We got our first BB gun as a kid before graduating to a .22 rifle, then an inexpensive pump shotgun and for many of us this paved the way for a lifetime of owning guns. We target shoot for the fun of it and we hunt for the joy of it. Just as important, we were taught early on to respect guns, to treat every gun as loaded, to always know what was beyond our target and to never, ever point a gun at someone unless you intended to shoot. I won't point a gun that I know is empty, with the slide locked back and the magazine out, at another person. They aren't toys and I know this because of a lifetime of being around them and being taught to respect firearms. Most people in this world live in rural and suburban America and most of us are White, although there are lots and lots of responsible gun owners, target shooters, hunters and regular people concerned about protecting their families who are black, mestizo, Asian or Indian.

The other world of guns in America is mostly found in urban areas. These are people who didn't grow up being taught to respect guns, they were taught that waving a gun around gets you respected. It is a world where using a gun to settle minor disputes is commonplace and killing other people is glorified in music. It is a decidedly non-White world and is home to most of the gun violence in America, concentrated in a few urban zip codes where the bulk of gun violence and especially murder takes place. It is this world where efforts to stem gun violence need to take place, not in lawful gun commerce carried out in local gun stores across America. It is also the one place that journalists refuse to point the finger because their concern is really not about reducing gun violence, it is primarily an issue of disarming Americans who might object to seeing their country turned into a Bolshevik-run hellscape.

You can't believe and you ought not believe anything you are being told. Everything being pushed by the media is sent with an agenda and the agenda, if you are a heritage American, is your destruction. Solving the problem of gun violence by focusing on legal firearm sales is like trying to reduce automobile accidents by focusing on the cup holders in cars.

3 comments:

  1. It's truly brazen to try to try to make that point - however, I predict the Leftists will lap it up and treat it as fact, while the Right know it's laughable since the heaviest armed Americans are also the most peaceful.

    What will the Center believe??

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The center simultaneously doesn't believe anything and will also believe anything. That is why they are in the center.

      Delete