Guy Smith Blows Up Giffords’ “Gun Laws Scorecard”

Feb. 11, 2019
by Bob Adelmann

The phrase “lies, damned lies, and statistics” reflects the use of various mathematical means to achieve foul ends. Giffords Law Center has engaged in it for years, and Guy Smith has caught up with them.

With a background in quantitative management and a nose for fraud and deceit, he took up the cause of debunking gun controllers’ misinformation, such as that from Giffords. Smith has no vested interest on either side of the issue, and apparently has no bias. He claims that he:

is not a member of any organization – not the NRA, not Everytown for Gun Safety, not the Second Amendment Foundation, not the Brady Campaign. Nada. Someone once bought [me] a membership in the California Rifle and Pistol Association, and [I] immediately demanded to be removed from their membership roster.

He is the editor of Gun Facts, and claims that “we are neither pro-gun nor anti-gun. We are pro-math and anti-B.S.”

Last year he took on the task of debunking Giffords’ latest scorecard, and, after doing much digging, he concluded:

Just when you think people could not be more deceitful, they somehow manage.

And by “deceitful” I mean Giffords Law Center and their rather ridiculous state-by-state scorecard on gun control policy, wherein they attempt to convince an unwary public that guns lead to mayhem.

His major takeaways included:

“Strong” gun control is associated with higher rates of violent crime (homicides, assaults, and rapes;

They handily omitted Washington D.C., which has very high violent crime rates;

They included suicides (which we know are not a gun issue);

They don’t cite sources for their data; and

Their grading scheme for the “strength” of gun control laws is 100% opaque.

What he found was that Giffords included all forms of gun deaths in their states’ tallies: legal interventions and justifiable homicides as well as suicides.

What Smith found applies as well to Giffords’ latest attempt to use incomplete statistics in its latest Annual Gun Laws Scorecard released last week. Consider its ranking of Wyoming, a state that historically has allowed its citizens maximum freedom in exercising their Second Amendment rights:

In 2018, Wyoming legislators put their constituents at risk by enacting a dangerous Stand Your Ground law and passing legislation allowing people with concealed carry permits to bring guns into places of worship.

The state has very weak gun laws and a remarkably high gun suicide rate. Wyoming could save lives by, among other things, passing universal background checks and imposing waiting periods on gun purchases.

On the other hand, it ranks California as its “best state” in its rankings:

California continued to strengthen its already strong gun laws in 2018 by, among other things, raising the minimum age to purchase and manufacture guns and broadening its domestic violence laws.

To uphold its role as a leader in gun violence prevention, California should also substantially increase its investment in violence intervention programs, restrict bulk firearm purchases, and regulate the sale of homemade “ghost gun” components.

Giffords chastised Mississippi for being its “worst state”:

Mississippi did not pass any new gun safety laws in 2018. The state has one of the highest gun death rates in the nation and correspondingly weak gun laws.

To raise its grade and save lives, Mississippi should, among other things, pass universal background checks, prevent domestic violence offenders from accessing firearms, and repeal its dangerous permitless carry law.

It congratulated Florida for being the “most improved” state in its survey:

Florida significantly raised its grade in 2018, from an F to a C-. After the mass shooting in Parkland in February, the state legislature passed a package of gun safety bills that included an extreme risk protection law, a higher minimum age for buying firearms, and stronger waiting periods.

To save more lives and further raise its grade, Florida should adopt universal background checks and regulate military-style weapons and magazines.

Its scorecard then purported to show that where the Second Amendment was honored, “gun deaths” soared while those with strict limitations infringing on it were much lower. Therefore, mission accomplished: more gun laws are needed to reduce “gun deaths.” It called it an “undeniable correlation”: “Annual state gun deaths per 100,000 people [are] grouped by grade. Gun deaths tend to increase as grades weaken.”


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Therefore it follows that Giffords’ proposals should be adopted by any state that wants to reduce those so-called “gun deaths”: background checks into every transfer of a firearm including transactions between private individuals and ERPOs (extreme risk protection orders) or “red flag” laws.

Two years after Gabby Giffords, a liberal Democrat (Freedom Index rating of 14 out of 100 based on her five years’ voting record in the House) from Arizona, was nearly killed by a gunman, she and her husband founded Americans for Responsible Solutions. It was merged into the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence in 2017 and changed its name simply to Giffords.

Its attack on gun rights is in three parts: a lobbying arm, a super PAC, and a research arm which publishes its Annual Gun Law Scorecard.

Giffords’ attempt at complete transparency failed, as this writer discovered doing his own research. Said Giffords:

The attorneys at Giffords Law Center spend the year tracking and analyzing gun legislation in all 50 states, evaluating bills for their relative strength or weakness.

Taking note of newly enacted laws, we use an exhaustive quantitative rubric to score each state on its gun law strength, adding points for safety regulations like universal background checks and extreme risk protection orders and subtracting points for reckless policies like “Stand Your Ground” and permitless carry laws.

We then rank the states, convert point totals to letter grades, and compare our findings to the most recent gun death rates released by the CDC.

Year after year, our research yields the same conclusion – stronger gun safety laws lead to lower gun death rates.

The latest report from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – see Sources below) reveals the following data for 2016 (the most recent available): total deaths “by firearms”: 38,658. “Intentional self-harm (suicide) by discharge of firearms”: 22,938.

That means, for starters, that Giffords is “off” by nearly 60 percent. As Smith noted, “almost all [suicides] are committed with legally acquired handguns (no assault weapons or extra capacity magazines required).”

Next up is how Giffords breaks down the 40 percent of homicides committed with a firearm: they don’t. Not a word. Nothing about firearms-assisted suicides increasing following the financial crisis. Nothing about the increase of gun violence in inner cities as drug cartels were shifting their concentration from marijuana to opioids like fentanyl. And of course nothing was said about DGUs (defensive gun uses) in the United States.

Estimates of DGUs vary, from 50,000 to nearly 5 million every year. Most estimates are likely to understate how often a citizen is able to prevent a crime by the mere presence of a legally owned firearm. As John Lott, author of More Guns, Less Crime and The Bias Against Guns, noted, “In many defensive cases a handgun is simply brandished and no one is harmed [and so] many defensive uses are never even reported to the police.”

If Giffords had its way, there would be at least two disastrous results: First, gun violence would increase sharply as the law-abiding population would be disarmed; and second, only criminals and the state would have firearms. Is it possible to believe that Giffords doesn’t know that it’s rigging its scorecard and that its goal would be a military dictatorship in the U.S. as a result?

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Sources:

How statistics and used and abused

Giffords Law Center: Annual Gun Law Scorecard 2019

Guy Smith at Gun Facts: Gifford’s Goof

Giffords Law Center website

Background on Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence

Background on Giffords organization

Giffords’ Mission Statement

Background on Gabby Giffords

Gabby Giffords’ Freedom Index rating: 14/100

Gun Facts: Suicides and Guns

Gun Facts: Gun Deaths: Meaningless Metric

Gun Facts: High Gun Death Perspectives

Background on defensive gun use (DGU) in the US

Background on Guy Smith, editor of Gun Facts

CDC.gov: National Vital Statistics Reports  Volume 67, Number 5 July 26, 2018   Deaths: Final Data for 2016

Background on the CDC

SafetyLit.org: How did we get here? Heroin and fentanyl trafficking trends: a law enforcement perspective

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