Just when it appears that the Senate may do the right thing and actually vote some kind of gun law, we are treated to an attempt by, of all publications, The Washington Post, to cast aspersions on the chief sponsor of the bill, Senator Chris Murphy, by subjecting his comments about gun violence and AR-15s to the so-called ‘fact checking’ process conducted by Glenn Kessler, who often writes for WaPo about guns. I have had differences with Kessler in the past, but this particular effort reveals him to be a liar or a jerk or both, and if Jeff Bezos ever decides to throw Kessler out, he can run right down to Fairfax and work for the NRA.
Kessler begins by taking Murphy to task for saying that states with more gun-control regulations have less homicides, and since Murphy referred to gun ‘homicides’ and not overall gun deaths, his statement, according to Kessler, contained ‘significant factual errors.’ And the great error, according to Kessler, is that by linking gun-control laws to homicides, Senator Murphy completely overlooked the fact that some states, particularly the Western states, have few gun laws and few homicides, but have higher rates of suicide.
To state, as Kessler does, that Murphy’s linkage between gun control and homicides is not factually based is a disingenuous and underhanded way of casting doubt on the value of gun regulations in general, hence, should cast doubt on Murphy’s current attempt to strengthen gun laws. Hey Glenn, let’s cut the bullshit, okay? There is no doubt that states with stiffer gun laws tend to have lower rates of gun homicides and gun violence in general, and the fact that Western states have lax gun laws and few gun homicides is basically irrelevant because Western states, in case you want to take the trouble to check, also don’t have many people. So in the overall scheme of things, it really doesn’t matter what the gun violence rate is in Idaho or Montana, understand? No, of course Kessler won’t understand.
Kessler’s second attempt to smear Murphy is to cast doubt on his claim that there has been a ‘massive’ increase in mass shootings since the assault-weapons ban ended in 2004. This claim is also judged by Kessler as containing significant errors, or to quote Kessler, ‘problematic.’ And what does Kessler reference to disparage Murphy’s statement about the use of assault rifles in mass shootings? A report published that covered all mass shootings between 1976 and 2011 which found that assault rifles were only used in 25% of mass shootings whereas handguns were the weapons of choice in nearly two-thirds of these attacks.
I’m going to spend a little more in responding to Kessler’s stupid and nonsensical garbage because, obviously, the issue of assault rifles is in the forefront of the current debate. In fact (hey Glenn, note the use of the word ‘fact’) the report used by Kessler defines a ‘mass shooting’ as any incident resulting in the death of four or more people, most of which happen to have been family-connected, domestic events. What in God’s name do such events have to do with gunning down 70 people in a movie theater, or 26 people in a public school, or 100 people in a club? Nothing. And guess what weapon accounted for almost 100 deaths at Aurora, Sandy Hook and Orlando? Furthermore, Kessler’s ‘evidence’ aggregates data beginning in 1976. Hey schmuck, did it ever occur to you that AR-15 rifles weren’t even sold on the commercial market until 1980 and didn’t become popular until the 1990s?
In writing about guns, I try to maintain a relatively civil and respectful tone, even when I am confronted by something that comes out of one of the crazy mouths representing Gun-nut Nation (read: NRA.) So I apologize for the tone of these remarks. But my apology is aimed at my readers and not at Kessler or his employer. His attack on Senator Murphy is shabby journalism at its worst – the absolute worst.