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Joe McDermott's gun program

Joe McDermott is a politician running to replace retiring Jim McDermott (no relation) in US Congress. And he is running on an anti-gun program - as in, ending gun violence is #1 issue on his "Issues" page.

So let's take a closer look. Predictably, Mr McDermott uses the tactic popular with anti-gunners, focusing on gun deaths specifically (forgetting that 40% of all homicides do not involve guns), and commingling suicides, which are responsible for 2/3rd of all deaths related to firearms with homicides to achieve the impressive number of 30000.

The fact that over 30,000 people lose their lives to a gun in the United States annually is outrageous and it is past time to tackle this issue head on. Joe is the only candidate who has taken on this issue from day-one in this campaign, and is the only candidate with a track record of delivering real results on the issue here in Washington state.

Of course, the claim that banning guns will eliminate suicides is a very bold claim, and Australian experience proves it completely false, but when did politicians were concerned with truthfully representing reality?

Parenthetically, though in the US at large roughly one third of gun-related deaths are homicides, in WA state the proportion of suicides to homicides is 5 to 1 (data here, E6). Washington State is a very peaceful place, and vast majority of gun violence here comes from gangs.

So let's look at Joe's achievements. From his page...

In other words, Joe has "delivered" a declaration, and a web page to tell people where gun locks are sold (which is - duh - at the gun stores). Now, according to Joe, "safe storage reduces firearm suicides by 78%" - this a testable claim, for once! Was there in fact a dramatic reduction of suicides by firearms after 2013? Nope. There was no reduction - at all. (Data here, E4.)

As always, when you are actually trying to apply metrics to gun control crowd's activities - ANY metrics - their case falls apart instantly. Because for all the hot air they generate, THERE IS NEVER DATA that shows that their proposals were successful when enacted. NEVER. And in fact, there is plenty of data that shows that gun control does not produce results, from Australia to "assault weapons" ban.

Because yes - if you have guns, there will be gun deaths and gun suicides. Take guns away, and you end up with lead pipe deaths, knife deaths, and rope suicides.

But let's look at Joe's plan for Congress, should he make it.

Point by point...

  • "Declare gun violence and deaths a public health crisis nationally." This is bullshit. Homicide rates were in decline in the US for years. Can something that is on a downswing be called a "crisis"? Yes, if you are a politician actively in search of a red meat issue to attach yourself to. You wouldn't do it if you had something of actual substance to stand on.
  • "Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is prohibited from tracking data related to gun deaths in the United States." Uh, no, they aren't. The data is right here: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/homicide.htm. What they are prohibited from is using firearms violence research to promote gun control. And that was exactly the intent of the agency at the time. The person who oversaw gun research at CDC - Mark Rosenberg - was not shy about his goals: "We need to revolutionize the way we look at guns, like what we did with cigarettes... Now [smoking] is dirty, deadly and banned."
  • "Gun manufacturers are currently exempt from liability for their products after Congress passed the “Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act” in 2005". Again, not true. Gun manufacturers are exempt from liability lawsuits for non-defective firearms which they sold legally. The act was necessary because many anti-gun groups engaged in frivolous lawsuits intended to sue the gun industry out of business. Gun manufacturers are as liable for defective products as car manufacturers, food producers, or anyone else.
  • "Assault rifles, like the AR-15, are designed for no other reason than to shoot a large number of bullets in a very short amount of time." Again, false. AR-15s are semi-automatic. They shoot at the same rate as any modern pistol. They are no more - or less - dangerous than most modern pistols. A good overview of why assault weapon bans did not work the last time is available here: www.assaultweapon.info - and in fact, the only thing that it did achieve was getting George W. Bush to the White House. It should be obvious that banning firearms strictly on how they look, not how they function, cannot reduce violence.
  • "Expand and enhance background checks." There is absolutely no evidence that universal background checks have any impact on homicide rates. In states where they were previously enacted the homicide rate dymanics were exactly the same as in similar states where they were not.

Joe McDermott claims that he is an expert in gun violence prevention, yet literally every sentence on his web page on the subject is untrue. Which can mean only two things - he is either grossly incompetent, or he is a liar - he knows that his proposals don't mean anything, won't move the needle in any direction, but they touch an exploitable red meat issue.

I submit that this is not the kind of leadership the people in Seattle are looking for. We need honest, competent politician which can end the stalemate in Washington and address real issues that plague the country. We need the leaders who are not Joe McDermott.