Circular reasoning best describes the current state of our mainstream media.
Begin with the conclusion, assume the conclusion is correct, then present data and statements that support the conclusion – and only the conclusion.
ABC News has recently started publishing a series of articles on “gun violence.” This series of articles is a perfect example of how not to sway the opinion of your opposition. The first article in the series interviews “Dr. Georges Benjamin, the executive director of the American Public Health Association.”
“Benjamin said there is no leading factor behind the gun-related killings, some are premeditated acts of aggression, some are domestic disputes, others are part of other crimes such as robberies, but the one common denominator is access to a firearm.” Emphasis added.
The conclusion is clear, the problem is “access to firearms.”
When reading an article about “violence” – more specifically “gun violence” there are in general three items that give away the fact that you are reading left-wing propaganda.
The first is the source. In this case, ABC News, which has demonstrated time and again clear support for left-wing ideology. Is that an ad hominem statement? Am I attacking the source rather than the content? That might be a fair criticism, but this series of articles by ABC tends to prove my point.
Second is the selection of the term “gun violence” as opposed to violence not involving firearms. This is a clear indicator that the “issue” to be presented is the existence of the firearm, not the user or the intent of the user.
The third is the inclusion of suicide and legal shootings along with homicide numbers. About 60% of fatalities involving firearms in the U.S. are suicides. This is done to inflate the total number.
Let us begin with suicide. Any serious discussion of “gun control” should not, in my opinion, include suicide. I’ll concede that there are some cross-over cases such as “suicide by cop” but these are rare. Left and right can agree that criminal use of firearms (homicide) is something we want to eliminate, but what drives suicide is a different matter and one that does not seem to be related to access to firearms.
I looked at multiple sources for suicide rates and all seem to agree. The suicide rate in the United States is roughly the same as in Canada and the UK despite very different firearm access levels. And the suicide rate in these countries is low relative to much of the rest of the world. The highest suicide rates are in Russia, China, and India. Japan has roughly twice the suicide rate of the U.S. – and Japan has virtually zero access to firearms by the general public. Access to firearms is not the “common denominator.” The common denominator is people that want to kill themselves.
In defense of my attack above on the source, consider this.
The “gun death” data, interestingly, is presented by state adjusted for population, placing such notorious lawless hell-holes as Alaska, Mississippi, and Wyoming in the top 3. In a serious discussion of criminal violence, I rather expected more focus on places like Chicago. But that serious discussion must take a back seat to the promotion of a political agenda. Wyoming, after all, is dominated by conservatives, Chicago is run by Democrats.
I concede that U.S. homicide rates are not good. The data I found had the U.S. ranked number 55 out of 167 countries (the source linked may not be the best but other sources agreed and this source offered a clear presentation). The U.S. and Greenland have the same rate. Counties with higher rates include Russian and Ukraine, with El Salvador and Venezuela number 1 and 3 respectively. Venezuela, if I understand correctly, has outlawed private ownership of firearms. The “common denominator” does not appear to be access to firearms. Looking at the top ten, the common denominator appears to be the complete breakdown of the rule of law. Several of the counties with the worst homicide problems are essentially run by (or at the very least dominated by) criminal gangs. Likewise, areas within the United States with high numbers of homicides, such as Chicago, are areas where the rule of law has broken down. The common denominator of those countries (or areas within a country) where the rule of law has broken down is the people in charge. Japan has a very low homicide rate, evidently the rule of law is in good shape there.
In an honest discussion about violence, ABC might consider removing suicide from the numbers and replacing them with assaults and murders involving weapons other than firearms. Knives account for roughly five times more homicides than rifles do, but ABC devoted an entire article in the series to AR-15 style rifles.
ABC states: “If we are serious about tackling the gun violence problem in America, experts say we must look at the complete picture, which they say goes well beyond the headlines and amounts to not one, but several gun violence epidemics begging for solutions.”
This would seem to imply that to arrive at effective solutions, we must ask the right question. That may be the only true implication in the series. Having participated in multiple root cause analysis exercises, I can assure the reader that if you don’t ask the right question, you are certain to get the wrong answer. The most common way to end up asking the wrong question is to assume the conclusion (decide on an answer) and then search for the appropriate question.
While the series purports to “explore solutions,” the only “solution” that I can detect is to disarm law-abiding citizens. In the interest of full disclosure, I stopped reading after the third article. It was painfully clear by that point that this was nothing more than a very long-winded left-wing political speech.
ABC is not alone. Look, for example, at the coverage of Alec Baldwin shooting his co-workers on set. There has been a lot of discussion of who gave him the gun, who was responsible for checking it before it was given to him, and who yelled “cold gun.” But (except for some individuals in media with solid knowledge of firearm safety) very little about the responsibility of Mr. Baldwin to check the firearm himself. The reason for this is clear, the narrative is always about the gun, not the shooter. The calls now are for eliminating firearms from movie sets. That is probably a very good idea if the alternative is allowing an idiot like Baldwin to handle real firearms.
And this is precisely what ABC is promoting. It’s the gun, not the shooter. This is why they won’t be taken seriously by those they would like to sway.
Had ABC let the data take them to the conclusion, it would be hard to ignore that the common denominator is the criminal. Under the sub-heading “Rethinking Gun Violence”, ABC isn’t rethinking anything.