Mike the Gun Guy: The Violence Policy Center Has Something Important To Tell Us About Guns

I don’t always agree with him, but I like reading Mike the Gun Guy’s blog. He has a particular position that he hammers away at (objecting to the NRA promoting concealed carry to help gun companies sell more guns) and he pays attention to scholarly literature. But I fear the Violence Policy Center’s poor analysis is starting to rub off on him.

Photo from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gsEa9viJuXM
Photo from youtube.com/watch?v=gsEa9viJuXM

For some reason, he is very enamored of the VPC’s “research” on concealed carry killers, even though as far as I can see it is a terrible [great] example of [terrible] advocacy research. So, I wrote the following comment on MTGG’s recent post:

You state: “According to the FBI, less than one out of five fatal shootings in the United States takes place during the commission of a serious crime. Homicide is impulsive, it usually grows out of disputes between relatives or friends, and if a gun is present the argument gets very violent, very fast.” You link to 2012 FBI Homicide data which shows: 8,855 firearms homicides, but 3,438 have unknown circumstances. So, 5,417 fatal shootings have known circumstances. Of those, 1,437 are “felony” type or “suspected felony type.” So, already we are up from “less than one out of five” to just over one in four. But what about the 823 “other than felony” fatal shootings that are classified as gangland killings, juvenile killings, and sniper attacks? Certainly these aren’t impulsive disputes between relatives or friends. So, 1,437 + 823 = 2,260 / 5,417 = 42%. And this charitably includes the 1,124 “other not specified” circumstances for the “other than felony” category. So, there are at least as many fatal shootings taking place in criminal circumstances as there are arguments gone out of control — at least according to the data you cited.

The thing is, you don’t even need to exaggerate like this because you are right that there are too many fatal shootings (and knifings and bludgeonings and beatings) that grow out of romantic triangles, brawls, and arguments. But what is the role of concealed weapon permit holders in this? Is the homicide rate for concealed weapon permit holders higher, lower, or the same as others? There is no comprehensive federal database of concealed weapon permit holders (thank goodness!), but some states release data on crimes committed by concealed weapon permit holders. What do those data show? (You know what they show!)

Looking at this new and improved VPC concealed carry killers site, to me it looks like lipstick on a pig. It says: “Concealed carry killers are a threat to public safety. The evidence is clear that all too often, private citizens use their concealed handguns to take lives, not to save them.” But it also goes on the clarify (still, alas) that it includes suicides committed by concealed carry killers. How is suicide a “threat to public safety”?

You know I had to title a recent post, “What is Worse, The Violence Policy Center or the New York Times Editorial Board?” Please MTTG, don’t make me have to add you to this list!

When the Violence Policy Center began tracking shooting homicides committed by persons with concealed-carry permits, they were attacking the most cherished totem of the pro-gun community, namely, the idea that armed citizens play a positive role in protecting themselves and others from crime.  The fact that there is no credible research to back up this bromide is beside the point; it’s the stock-in-trade of every statement made to justify the concealed-carry of guns.  You can hear it from the NRA’s chief Florida lobbyist, Marion Hammer, arguing for concealed guns to be permitted on college campuses, you can hear it from national legislators on Capitol Hill as they debate a national, concealed-carry reciprocity law.

To the Violence Policy Center’s credit, they have not only maintained their stance regarding CCW-holders who use guns to shoot themselves and others, they have now augmented their effort with an updated website which lets viewers  examine…

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  1. Mikethegunguy seems rather shy about talking about his relationship with ‘National Medical Council on Gun Violence’. He is credited with founding the organization and it lists gun control researchers like Hemenway and Cook as advisers.
    He started out as ‘thegunguy at Rebecca Bond’s Evolve. I don’t know if he’s still affiliated with that group.


    • Sorry for belated response but, yes, those connections are obvious to those who know, but not clearly disclosed otherwise. I believe his wife is a medical doctor also, so he definitely is “in” with the medical gun control folks.

      And whatever happened to “Evolve”? It got going with such a bang and so much hype and now I don’t hear much about it. Perhaps another example of a gun control organization with no grass roots support to sustain it.


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