Nemerov; Gun Control: Violence Policy Center, or Violence Promotion Center?


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Harry Tuttle
August 12, 2004, 12:02 AM
http://www.chronwatch.com/content/contentDisplay.asp?aid=8977
Gun Control: Violence Policy Center, or Violence Promotion Center?
Written by Howard Nemerov
Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Promoting Criminal Enterprise Through Civilian Disarmament

Violence Policy Center considers itself the most effective anti-gun organization in Washington, D.C. ''Recognizing the VPC's groundbreaking research and unique expertise, VPC staff are frequently quoted by national news media and relied upon by policymakers.'' Thus they are self-proclaimed experts in the research that leads the fight in civilian disarmament. (1)

In American Roulette, Violence Policy Center takes a look at murder-suicides in the U.S. (2) Using passages like the following, they seek to use emotional appeal to validate their message:

''MAINE: In February, Harold 'Bones' Gray, 68, shot and killed his wife, Christina Gray, 24, and her sister, Vicki Morgan, 19, before turning the gun on himself. The Grays had been married for four years, but were separated and in the process of getting a divorce. Christina Gray had taken out a protection order on her husband in November 2000, an order he was arrested for violating in January 2001. All three were mortally wounded in the parking lot of a convenience store.'' (3)

Unfortunately for VPC, they acknowledge that the murderer had prior criminal history. This is a very important point to remember as we explore the fictional hypothesis of such anti-gun ''research'' later in this paper.

Some other emotional statements in the paper:

''Most murder-suicides involve an intimate partner.''

''Most murder-suicides occur in the home.''

''Unique factors may drive murder-suicide among the elderly.''

This last is particularly interesting, because the two cases they cite involve elderly in the throes of chronic illness. Shame on the VPC for using the elderly, one of our most vulnerable groups of people, for pushing their gun control schemes!
The Inability to Properly Cite Their Own Sources

As with the Brady Campaign, VPC seems more interested in validating their predetermined agenda than accurately reporting what their sources state. One source in this VPC paper is a report entitled ''Homicide Trends in the United States'' written by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2002. (4) Here are some conclusions from that report:

''The homicide rate doubled from the mid 1960's to the late 1970's. In 1980, it peaked at 10.2 per 100,000 population and subsequently fell off to 7.9 per 100,000 in 1985. It rose again in the late 1980's and early 1990's to another peak in 1991 of 9.8 per 100,000. Since then, the rate has declined sharply, reaching 5.5 per 100,000 by 2000.'' (5)

''Dramatic increases in both homicide victimization and offending rates were experienced by young males, particularly young black males, in the late 1980's and early 1990's. During the past few years, homicide victimization rates have dropped for all groups.'' (6)

Part of what VPC says is true. The DOJ report states: ''Homicides are most often committed with guns, especially handguns.'' (7) But as with all propaganda, a kernel of truth is important in misleading the unsuspecting public. As Joseph Goebbels said:

''Good propaganda does not need to lie, indeed it may not lie. It has no reason to fear the truth. It is a mistake to believe that people cannot take the truth. They can. It is only a matter of presenting the truth to people in a way that they will be able to understand.'' (Emphasis added.) (8)

In other words, take a partial truth out of context, twist it, surround it with the context you want people to identify with, lead them to the conclusion you want, and pretty soon they are convinced that massive civilian slaughter is an acceptable byproduct of a noble goal.

Also from the DOJ report:

''Gun homicides by adults 25 and older reflect a general downward trend.'' ''The sharp increase in homicides in the late 1980's and much of the subsequent decline is attributable to gun violence by juveniles and young adults.'' (9)

The second quote is a euphemistic way of saying gang bangers, interesting in protecting drug territory, made a major contribution to the homicide rate, not suburban housewives and elderly. Indeed, the DOJ report says that gun involvement:

v in gang related homicides increased after 1980,

v in homicides that occurred during the commission of a felony increased dramatically after 1985, and

v in homicides resulting from arguments declined to the lowest levels recorded recently. (10)

More conclusions from the DOJ report that conflict with VPC’s paper:

''The number of homicides of persons age 65 or older has been decreasing.'' (11)

''There has been a decline in homicide of intimates, especially male victims.'' (12)

These points belie the implication of a burgeoning epidemic of domestic gun-involved violence. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) confirm that for the period of 1991-2001, the homicide rate decreased 25% for adults ages 25-44 years old, 34% for those over 65, and 40% for ages 15-24. (13) Also during that period, suicide for elderly dropped over 22%, again contradicting VPC implications that there is an increasing epidemic of self-inflicted ''euthanasia'' due to declining health. (14) CDC also reports nearly a 31% drop in all firearm-related fatalities during this period. (15)
The Main Agenda of VPC

VPC is using murdered women and elderly to advance its vision of civilian disarmament. One of the books they promote on their website is entitled ''Every Handgun is Aimed at You: The Case for Banning Handguns.'' (16) Like most pseudo-scientific research, VPC starts with an agenda and an assumed conclusion, then twists a few facts in order to present the truth to people “in a way that they will be able to understand.'' One assumption necessary to believe VPC is that all of these tragedies are committed by people who are basically sane and law-abiding, but simply lose control, grab a firearm, and commit murder in a fit of passion.

In ''The Myth of the Virgin Killer: Law-Abiding Persons Who Kill in a Fit of Rage,'' Don B. Kates and Daniel D. Polsby address this hallucinatory belief in an extensively referenced research paper.

''Nearly fifty years of further homicide studies confirm that murderers are almost never ordinary, law abiding citizens. The great majority are, in fact, extreme aberrants whose life histories are full of violence, psychopathology, crimes (some acquisitive, others completely irrational), substance abuse, and other hazardous behavior and dangerous accidents. The whole corpus of research shows murderers almost always have a long history of involvement in criminal behavior.'' (17)

''Only 15% of Americans in general have a criminal record of any kind. But the overwhelming majority of murderers do. The longest data-set is the murder analyses the Chicago Police Department has published annually from the mid-1960s to date. Those analyses, and various state and national data-sets from the same general period, show upwards of 75% or more of murderers have adult criminal records. Moreover, murderers tend to be career criminals, rather than having just one prior offense. For instance, exclusive of all other offenses they may have had, 80% of Atlanta murder arrestees in 1997 had at least one prior drug offense; fully 70% had 3-5 or more prior drug offenses. Similarly, when the Kennedy School at Harvard studied gun murders occurring in Lowell, Mass. in 2002 nearly 95 percent of the killers turned out to have been already known to the criminal justice system as gang members or for some other crime; 89 percent had been accused of a prior armed violent crime.'' (18)

VPC’s American Roulette piece includes numerous anecdotes of seemingly innocent, law-abiding people suddenly turning violent, implying that if guns were not present, tragedy would have been averted. This is a myth as well.

''Data reflecting only official crime records greatly under-represent murderers’ true histories of prior serious crimes. For instance, such data substantially underestimate the incidence among those who murder relatives or acquaintances of real history of assaultive behavior because their prior victims were less like to press charges and the police were loathe to interfere in a family matter. A study of police responding to domestic disturbance calls in Kansas City (Missouri) found that 90 percent of all the family homicides were preceded by previous disturbances at the same address, with a median of 5 calls per address. Thus homicide – whether of a stranger or of someone known to the offender -- is 'usually part of a pattern of violence, engaged in by people who are known ... as violence prone.' '' (19)

VPC attempts to convince us that guns in the home are a great danger, since they claim ''Most murder-suicides occur in the home.'' (If you can stretch the concept of home to included living with violent criminals.) But it is the type of living situation that we must examine closely.

''Likewise, killings between 'relatives' cannot be understood as something that occurs in ordinary families. What 'relative' denotes in the context of murder is a killing perpetrated by a violent man who has brutalized his mate, children and/or other family members on numerous prior occasions before eventually killing one or more of them.'' (20)

What is the difference between a law-abiding citizen and a criminal? It seems difficult for the average person who lives in a non-violent environment to conceive how drastically different is the criminal’s view of life, because it is so foreign to our experience. Kates and Polsby summarize this conundrum:

''What differentiates criminals and violent psychopaths from ordinary people is not their experiencing hatred or rage, but the ease with which those emotions are prompted and the acts to which they give rise. Killers exhibit an absence of impulse control and a seemingly inexplicable (to ordinary people) propensity to explode into extreme violence over the most trifling matters. On the one hand, ordinary people virtually never kill; on the other hand, the kind of person who murders often does so over things so trivial that we are left aghast not only at the fact of killing but at the inconsequential grievance that engendered it. The triviality of motive further confirms the extreme deviance of murderers. However preposterously or insufficiently motivated a killing may seem to ordinary people with ordinary compunctions, it may make perfect sense to a psychopath, sociopath, and/or substance abuser with a life long record of law breaking and no compunction against extreme violence.'' (21)

What about disarming the general public in order to take guns out of circulation, so that the criminally inclined lose access as well? Kates and Polsby answer with a scholarly version of ''if guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.''

''The difficulty of achieving this goal is that persons who are inclined toward crime may have little compunction about violating laws forbidding them arms, and those laws may be difficult to enforce against them. Had 20th Century Americans not previously understood this, the point would have been made unmistakably clear by the Prohibition experience. As the Saturday Evening Post editorialized in 1925: 'If the Federal government cannot prevent the landing and distribution of shiploads of rum, how can it stop the criminal from getting the most easily concealed and vital tool of his trade.' '' (22)

What was possibly nothing more than an editorial in 1925 has been proven in the United Kingdom, where gun-involved crime has risen dramatically since the gun ban in 1997. (23,24)
Conclusion

The perspective VPC would like to impose upon us is that myriad innocent elderly, youth, and women are dying because of the availability of firearms. But the statistical facts from its own sources prove otherwise, showing significant downward trends in the violent crime VPC uses to push its agenda of civilian disarmament.

By using emotional appeal to deflect us from scrutinizing shoddy research, one begins to wonder that if the papers written by gun control organizations are so fraught with misinformation, perhaps they are the modern day incarnation of Joseph Goebbels, who understood the importance of telling a big lie often. After all, one of the people gun control worked for during the 20th Century was Hitler. The question we all need to ask is: If gun control has been such a failure here and abroad, why would we want to pursue a policy that only enables criminals, large and small, to benefit?
Footnotes

(1) About the Violence Policy Center http://www.vpc.org/aboutvpc.htm

(2) American Roulette, Violence Policy Center, 2002.
http://www.vpc.org/studies/amercont.htm

(3) American Roulette, Violence Policy Center, 2002.
http://www.vpc.org/studies/amertrend.htm

(4) “Homicide Trends in the United States” U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, November 2002.
http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/htius.pdf

(5) Ibid, page 8.

(6) Ibid, page 66.

(7) Ibid, page 141.

(8) Joseph Goebbels speaking about propaganda at Nuremburg, 1934.
http://www.calvin.edu/academic/cas/gpa/goeb59.htm

(9) “Homicide Trends in the United States” U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, November 2002, page 141.

(10) Ibid, pages 134-135.

(11) Ibid, page 89.

(12) Ibid, page 98.

(13) Table 45: Death rates for homicide, according to sex, race, Hispanic origin, and age: United States, selected years 1950-2001. Spreadsheet files for 2003 edition located at:
ftp://ftp.cdc.gov/pub/Health_Statistics/NCHS/Publications/Health_US/hus03/

(14) Table 46. Death rates for suicide, according to sex, race, Hispanic origin, and age: United States, selected years 1950-2001.

(15) Table 47. Death rates for firearm-related injuries, according to sex, race, Hispanic origin, and age: United States, selected years 1970-2001.

(16) Violence Policy Center Publications Index
http://www.vpc.org/studyndx.htm

(17) The Myth of the "Virgin Killer": Law-Abiding Persons Who Kill in a Fit of Rage, Don B. Kates and Daniel D. Polsby, copyright 2002, page 22. (This paper was presented at a symposium held under the auspices of the Royal Armouries in the Tower of London, May, 2003. To request an electronic copy of the paper, email Don Kates, specifying what format you want it in: Word Perfect, Word, etc.)

(18) Ibid, pages 26-7.

(19) Ibid, pages 31-32.

(20) Ibid, page 48.

(21) Ibid, page 55.

(22) Ibid, pages 4-5.

(23) Handgun crime soars despite Dunblane Ban. UK Telegraph , January 11, 2001. http://portal.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml;$sessionid$2YYLRCAAAAVMNQFIQMFCFFWAVCBQYIV0?xml=/news/2001/01/11/ngun11.xml

(24) Gun crimes soaring despite ban brought in following Dublane. UK Telegraph, July 15, 2001.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2001/07/15/ngun15.xml

About the Writer: Howard Nemerov is a Bay Area freelance writer who has a special interest in the preservation of the Second Amendment. Howard receives e-mail at hnemerov@netvista.net.

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P95Carry
August 12, 2004, 12:07 AM
Interesting reading Harry! The perspective VPC would like to impose upon us is that myriad innocent elderly, youth, and women are dying because of the availability of firearms. But the statistical facts from its own sources prove otherwise, showing significant downward trends in the violent crime VPC uses to push its agenda of civilian disarmament.''Agenda'' ... that indeed is a key word .. tho less polite nouns and even adjectives come to mind! :p

Feed on sheeple emotions ... that is their game.:rolleyes:

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