Hillary Clinton took the opportunity Thursday during a tribute to retiring U.S. Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) to decry “fake news,” which could easily describe repeated efforts by gun prohibition lobbying groups to combine suicide, homicide and accident data to declare that there are 30,000 deaths annually from “gun violence.”
Expect this figure to be repeated on Dec. 19 when Washington Ceasefire holds a rally in Olympia 1:30-3 p.m., featuring Attorney General Bob Ferguson. The event is to ban “assault weapons” in Washington State. Many believe this is merely a feint to push certain-to-fail legislation in the Legislature so they can come back either next spring or in 2018 with a billionaire-backed citizen initiative to ban such firearms.
But the number is deceptive. Whether one relies on the FBI Uniform Crime Report or data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), that figure is misleading at best, and some might even consider it a bald-faced lie. Yet it is used repeatedly by anti-gunners who almost invariably overlook the fact that about two-thirds of those fatalities are suicides rather than the result of a criminal act. Everytown for Gun Safety, the gun prohibition lobby funded by anti-gun billionaire Michael Bloomberg, does make the distinction between homicides and suicides on its website, but you have to search to find it.
For the sake of comparison, the Washington Post reported this week that more than 30,000 people died last year from opioid use, relying upon CDC data.
CDC homicide numbers seem always to exceed those provided by the FBI. In 2014, for example – the most recent year for which CDC data is available – that agency said there were 15,809 homicides, of which 10,945 involved firearms. However, according to the FBI data for that year, there were 11,961 homicides, of which 8,124 involved firearms.
While anti-gun groups push for bans on so-called “assault weapons” because of their lethality, the FBI data shows that rifles of any kind are actually used in a fraction of homicides. In 2014, rifles were used in 248 slayings, while the data also acknowledges that 2,648 murders were committed with guns whose type was “not stated.”
Scant use of rifles could be a problem for Washington Ceasefire and Ferguson because, according to the FBI data, there were only 6 slayings involving rifles of any kind in 2014. That’s out of a total of 94 murders involving firearms that year. In 2014, Washington logged 172 total slayings, the FBI said.
Last year, the FBI homicide figures for Washington show only 3 rifle-related murders, out of 141 total homicides involving firearms. There were 209 total murders last year in the Evergreen State.
But according to rhetoric from the gun prohibition lobby, gun violence is out of control to the point where it is necessary to ban an entire class of firearms. If that’s not “fake news,” how else would it be defined?