When anti-gun Sen. Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat, claimed during a CNN “State of the Union” appearance that states with tougher gun laws “have dramatically lower rates of gun violence,” he was perpetuating a myth that has been circulated by the gun prohibition lobby, and he got called on it by the Washington Post Fact Checker this week.
Indeed, his assertion earned Murphy “Three Pinocchios,” which translates to about as far off the bull’s eye as one gets without being called a bald-faced liar. That’s a label reserved for those who earn four “Pinocchios” from the newspaper’s Fact Checker column.
This is not the first time Murphy has run into trouble with the Fact Checker, nor is he the only Democrat who ever got called on gun control rhetoric. Even former President Barack Obama pulled down three Pinocchios for making false claims about guns, in 2013.
The Fact Checker summed it up thusly:
“The evidence to support Murphy’s claim is thin, at best. A 10-year ban on assault weapons such as AR-15s didn’t do much to reduce gun violence. Many of the studies that show gun control reduces gun deaths include suicides, which distorts the results. And single-state studies may show improvements in gun violence, but the results can’t be readily generalized to other states. (The Fact Checker once documented how proposed gun laws would not have prevented any mass shootings that took place between 2012 and 2015.)”
But this leaves a pair of nagging questions. Why do anti-gunners do this, and what makes them think they can get away with it?
As Liberty Park has previously noted on several occasions, annual FBI crime data shows that – on the issue of banning so-called “assault weapons” – it would have a negligible, if any, effect on gun-related homicides. Rifles are used in relatively so few homicides in any given year that they are out-classed by knives, blunt objects, fists and feet.
When talking specifically about “gun violence,” the gun prohibition lobby routinely claims that this category claims 30,000 to 33,000 lives annually. What they don’t say is that roughly two-thirds of those are suicides, not the result of criminal actions. The ratio in Washington State is closer to 80 percent. Earlier this week, a group called Forefront held its annual fund-raiser at the University of Washington HUB Ballroom to help finance suicide prevention efforts that are actually championed by national gun rights leader Alan Gottlieb, founder of the Second Amendment Foundation.
Perhaps the problem is best explained by the Fact Checker: “Still, there is no evidence that tough laws ‘dramatically reduce’ gun violence as Murphy claims. He exaggerates the little evidence that lends just a hint of support for his side of the gun debate. For this we award him Three Pinocchios…”