The Corner

Guns and Lies

E. J. Dionne Jr. writes:

News flash: No law will ever solve every problem or create heaven on Earth. But it is a straight-out lie to assert that stronger gun laws make no difference. Here is the conclusion of a study released in August by National Journal: “The states that impose the most restrictions on gun users also have the lowest rates of gun-related deaths, while states with fewer regulations typically have a much higher death rate from guns.”

Dionne’s Washington Post colleague Glenn Kessler fact-checked the president’s citation of this same study and gave him “two Pinocchios.” Hans Bader has more on the flaws and limits of that study:

[I]n its discussions of “Concealed Carry” and “Background Checks,” the National Journal deletes these states from its charts comparing pro-gun and anti-gun states by “Gun-related homicides per 100,000 people, by state (2013).” It deletes Vermont, South Dakota, Maine, and 8 other states (6 of which have few gun regulations) from each chart, claiming that these states had “too few homicides to calculate a reliable rate.” 9 of the 11 states excluded broadly allow concealed carry and do not impose additional background-check requirements beyond those contained in federal law. But the National Journal deliberately excluded those states, writing, “In 2013, Alaska, Idaho, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming had too few homicides to calculate a reliable rate.”

It is truly bizarre to exclude the states with the fewest gun deaths from an article about what states have “the fewest gun deaths.” This is an egregious act of cherry-picking.

Even if Dionne were right about the effectiveness of gun-control laws in reducing deaths, he would still be wrong to assume that those who disagree with him are “straight-up” liars. But his evidence is also weak.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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