NPR's 12 Commandments "informing" the gun control debate. Part one - the < 1% myth
Cherry picking data and studies to favor a particular outcome while deceitfully pretending to be a neutral participant
Recently NPR published an article so misleading that it forced me to come out of my hibernation and say something about it. Needless to say nobody is happy about the absolute tragedy that happened in Uvalde, TX. There are a lot of open questions regarding that tragedy that need answering. From the changing story to the absolute cowardice shown by cops to the reason why the police’s own guidelines were not followed. I’d dare say arguing about the tool that was used by the murderer should be pretty low on priority when we have so many more important open questions. There was definitely a lot that went wrong apart from the killer having access to a rifle.
All that, as usual, did not stop NPR to spring into action while the kids bodies are still lying in morgues to capitalize on this unimaginable tragedy and use it to push their agenda, all while pretending to be very very neutral. If this does not make you recoil in disgust then I don’t know what will.
They Are Just Helping, Nothing To See Here
The article they published is titled “12 stats to help inform the gun control debate”. The deceit starts right from here. They are “helping” to “inform” us you guys, they are just some good reporters who have gathered data to help and inform us. Dare not suspect that they may have had an agenda to push here, or that they may have cherry picked studies to point in their favored direction. To the surprise of no one, all 12 “stats” are pointing to the same conclusion. Basically ban firearm ownership, or at least civilian ownership, or at least civilian ownership in USA (dare not question the arming of Ukrainian civilians because that means you support Putin and killing babies).
I went through the article and decided to see for myself the data and studies that they are basing these claims on. To their credit, they have linked the data backing up their claims and anyone can check it out. Once you actually dig a little bit under the surface however, you can see for yourself how making the claims based on the data provided can be problematic.
The < 1% Myth Unraveled
For this article, let us just focus on one of the data point that they have provided - that less than 1% of people defended themselves with their guns in violent crimes. This metric is extremely significant, because if true then it can be very easily argued that guns are practically useless for self defense and you may as well give them up to Save Lives ™. Okay lets dive into this.
How Old Is Recent ?
The article backing the 1% claim is from 2019 (did not even bother writing a new one), the study was published in 2015 using data gathered between 2007 - 2011!! As with everything else, a decade is a long time and trends can change, especially considering the fact that we did not have a pandemic 10 years ago. Regardless, if that’s the best you have and that is the data you want to stake claims on, fine, at the least one would expect this fact to be highlighted so that the reader can take into account the oldness of the data. Do they do that? Absolutely not, instead this is how they phrase this study “researchers at Harvard recently found”. 🤦🏻♂️
And media folks wonder why the trust in media is declining rapidly. Not even getting into the actual quality of the report, just the fact that a decade old research is being touted as something recent just because it comes to the preferred conclusion is dishonest enough. Enough for the reader to see through the facade of objectivity that they are trying to paint. But of course it gets worse. Lets take a peek at the report itself.
Finding Little Of Something You Were Not Looking For
Reason magazine has already published an excellent article on the shallowness of this study and it is worth checking it out. The research that concluded that less than 1% of folks use gun in self defense depends on data collected by the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), a survey conducted by the federal government. And this is the first problem with using this data, any person who has used a firearm in self defense will be wary of providing any additional data to the government because of the fear of being prosecuted with something additional to what they may have already faced. The second, even bigger, problem is that this survey DOES NOT ask about gun use in self defense. Think about it, the whole premise of claiming self defense gun usage is very little is based on a study that does not ask about self defense gun usage. If you are not trying to find something, is it any wonder that you will only accidentally find very little of it??
Think of this scenario, you are a private citizen who used a firearm in self defense in the past. You must have then very likely gone through the criminal justice system in some shape or form. Your firearm must have certainly been confiscated, and depending upon the local laws and the whim of the prosecutor you must be either charged or at that moment the prosecutor decided not to charge you but left the door open until the statute of limitations expire. After going through an ordeal like that, imagine now receiving a call from a federal government employee asking questions about that violent incidence. If that federal agent does not specifically ask you about firearm usage, would you mention it? I most certainly wont. Why give more information than asked and land yourself in trouble? The 5th amendment exist for a reason. No wonder a survey initiated by the federal government that does not ask for gun usage will end up finding extremely little gun usage. And folks are swearing up and down about this as if this is a divine revelation and the debate has been settled.
Measuring Defensive Gun Use Is Hard
We will have to accept the fact that there will never be a poll that can accept defensive gun usage accurately. Due to the extreme risk of opening yourself to litigation by aggresive prosecutors, most folks will not even mention any gun usage even to anonymous pollers. If anything, polls are most likely going to extremely undercount the gun usage in self defense. A study back in 1993 actually tried to measure self defense gun usage and their conclusion was that it happens millions of times annually. Mind you, this is 1993 data. However the author of that study has been very vocal about criticisms and has responded at length to those.
The Objectivity Deceit
If you are not someone who has already made up their mind to not believe any inconvenient facts then by now you can clearly see that using more than a decade old NCVS survey to claim self defense gun usage is nonexistant is blatantly dishonest. And that is the problem with these institutions that they keep pushing their agenda under the guise of being nuetral and objective. No wonder trust in media is tanking. It is ok to believe that banning civilian firearm ownership in USA is a good thing and should be strived for. But don’t try to act as if you are some nuetral party who is taking a look at data and giving raw “stats”. We are not stupid, we can see through the sleight of hand.