Anti-gun bias

In their previous issue, under the “Intelligence” section, Parade Magazine ran a brief anti-gun piece, called “Why Criminals are still getting guns”. I’ll actually copy and paste the entire thing here, because it’s really just a paragraph.

Even though crime is on the decline across the U.S., gun violence is actually on the rise. How do guns continue to end up in the hands of criminals? A small group of sellers is responsible: 57% of the guns used in crimes come from 1% of all dealers. Too often, they fail to run background checks or sell large numbers of weapons to traffickers who then resell them on the street. Due to weak laws and lack of enforcement, it can take an average of 11 years for authorities to order one shop to quit selling firearms. From 2003 to 2005, law-enforcement agencies reportedly traced an astonishing 1,424 guns used in crimes back to Trader Sports of California. The store had been investigated since the 1970s, but only last year was it forced to leave the firearms business. Progress is occurring, however. Under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the City of New York has sued 27 dealers in five states for engaging in illegal sales; so far, 14 of them have settled and agreed to stricter monitoring of gun sales and to tough penalties.

The blurb grossly misrepresents the way trace data is actually used, as that 57% number includes firearms that were legally purchased and then later stolen.

The little paragraph also holds up Mayor Bloomberg’s “gun stings” as an example of good work, but fails to mention that Bloomberg’s operatives committed multiple felonies during the course of their investigations, and that Bloomberg received a cease-and-desist letter from the Department of Justice, because he was compromising actual criminal investigations.

Parade Magazine rarely prints letters to the editor in their print version, however they will sometimes show them in their online format. Below is a copy of the letter I sent to their editor, Janice Kaplan:

Ms. Kaplan,

Regarding the short paragraph in last week’s “Intelligence” section, entitled Why Criminals are Still Getting Guns”, I wanted to address some of the areas where the paragraph falls short.

While crime, and especially violent crime, continue to be a problem in America, your article appears to place the blame at the feet of lawful retailers of firearms. The statistic “57% of the guns used in crimes come from 1% of all dealers” is tremendously misleading, as it misrepresents the way that ATF trace data is used. That 57% number includes more than just firearms sold by the dealer directly to a criminal, it includes firearms that were sold in legal transactions, and then later stolen and used in criminal activity; it also includes firearms that may have been confiscated as evidence during suicide investiagtions.

The short paragraph also holds up Mayor Bloomberg’s “sting operations” as positive examples of “fighting illegal guns”, but fails to mention that Mayor Bloomberg’s operatives committed multiple federal felonies during their investigations, and that the Department of Justice requested that the investigations be stopped, as they were compromising actual pending criminal cases.

It’s unfortunate that Parade, a magazine I otherwise enjoy, has chosen to display an anti-gun bias so prominently. I hope that future articles will display a more rigorous attention to factual details.

Regards,

Caleb

Uncle points out that maybe if the ATF wasn’t so busy trying to shut people down for making paperwork errors, they might actually shut down the bad guys.

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