Politics & Policy

Bloomberg’s Bogus Gun-Control Numbers

(Scott Olson/Getty Images)
The notion that gun violence disproportionately harms women does not hold up.

Editor’s Note: This article has been revised since its initial publication.

Michael Bloomberg’s anti-gun group Moms Demand Action couldn’t let the tragedy in Santa Barbara pass without interjecting more false information into the gun-control debate.

Given the Santa Barbara killer’s hatred of women (though four of the six victims were men), it is quite understandable that the topic of violence against women has been raised. Moms Demand Action tried fueling the fire with the claim that “84% of female firearm homicides in 25 countries are in US.

It is hard to see how Moms Demand Action could even make this comparison across all countries. Data from the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) allows you to break down murders either by the sex of the victim or by whether firearms are used, but it doesn’t allow users to identify both these categories simultaneously.

Moms Demand Action’s claim doesn’t make much sense anyway; they shouldn’t compare the raw number of homicides, since that doesn’t account for differences between countries in population size. Comparing homicide rates makes a lot more sense. Map 1.6 from the UNODC shows that in 2012 the U.S. had one of the world’s lower rates of homicide against females.

While 22.2 percent of U.S. homicides have female victims, the median for all countries is 23.7 percent and the mean is 24.4 percent. Even if one makes a comparison between the U.S. and Europe, the U.S. share of its homicides committed against females is relatively low. Ten of the 42 European countries (including four microstates) have a lower share than the U.S. and 32 have a higher rate.

Not surprisingly, Bloomberg’s groups are churning out false claims as they unite with Democrats to push for even more federally funded studies on gun violence. Bloomberg’s groups are responsible for the myth that gun research dropped after the NRA successfully won an amendment to the federal budget in 1996 banning the Centers for Disease Control from pushing for more gun control. Based largely on that myth, Senator Edward J. Markey (D., Mass.) and Representative Carolyn Maloney (D., N.Y.) have proposed spending another $60 million from taxpayers to “study” gun violence.

The Obama administration is even less likely to keep politics out of the research it funds than it is to keep politics out of whom the IRS has decided to audit. This isn’t saying that the Obama administration will bribe researchers into supporting its positions, just that it knows which researchers support anti-gun views and it will fund those individuals.

Unfortunately, with hundreds of millions of dollars from Bloomberg and millions more from George Soros and left-wing foundations, a tidal wave of false information about guns is going to hit over the next couple of years.

— John R. Lott Jr. is the president of the Crime Prevention Research Center and the author of More Guns, Less Crime.

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