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Trump’s NRA Speech: A Response to the Fact-Checkers

May 11, 2018, at National Review

By John R. Lott, Jr.


On Sunday, Jake Tapper told Kellyanne Conway, “I would like [Trump] to stop lying.”  He accused Trump of “continually” lying. But CNN and other news outlets really need to stop lying about President Trump supposedly lying. They couldn’t stop accusing the president of lying in his address last week to the NRA annual meeting.

But it is amazing how far these news organizations are willing to go to reach the conclusions they want. They rely on openly left-wing or at least left-leaning organizations such as Mother Jones, Vox, and PolitiFact.

Here are some of the statements from Trump’s speech to the NRA and the responses that he received.

“Ninety-eight percent of mass public shootings have occurred in places where guns are banned.”

Trump was using research from the Crime Prevention Research Center, an organization that I head. The Huffington Post declares that there is no “official” definition of “mass shootings,” but in fact there is a precise FBI definition for “mass public shootings.”

The FBI excludes attacks in private residences and ones that occur as part of some other crime, such as a gang fight or robbery. The Huffington Post and PolitiFact might find this arbitrary, but the point is to identify attacks at public areas such as schools, churches, and malls where the intention is to kill as many people as possible — the very cases that get the media’s attention.

From 1980 to 2013, the original FBI definition of “mass killings” was “four or more victims slain, in one event, in one location.” The offender is not included in the victim count. Probably in a politically motivated effort to inflate the number of shootings, this definition was changed during the Obama administration to “three or more killed.” But there was nothing wrong with the original definition, and most academics continue to use it.

Left-leaning fact-checkers may not want to use the FBI’s traditional definition of mass public shootings, but that is what Trump was referring to.

These media outlets questioned the classification of Fort Hood and other military sites as gun-free zones. But only military police are armed on base.

Left-leaning outlets argue that if police can carry guns in the area, then it’s not really a gun-free zone. But stationing a police officer or security guard in a public area often only gives a false sense of security. Knowing that the uniformed officer is the only person with a gun makes things quite simple for attackers: They need only kill him first. The media fact-checkers seem unwilling to accept that concealed-handgun-permit holders take away that strategic advantage from the killers, making it more difficult for these attacks to occur.

“We believe in allowing highly trained teachers to carry concealed weapons.”

The Huffington Post cites a 2005 National Research Council report that came to no conclusion on the effectiveness of concealed handguns. But the report didn’t reach a conclusion on any of the more than 100 different types of gun-control policies that it studied! It only called for the government to give them more research funding.

Only on the subject of concealed carry was there an extremely rare dissent. Preeminent criminologist James Q. Wilson objected, pointing out that the council’s own estimates show that allowing concealed carry reduces murder rates. Of course, the Huffington Post doesn’t mention any of this.

The Huffington Post also claimed that “many” teachers were “worried [that armed teachers] would do more harm than good and lead to a lot of students being injured by accident at school.” These feelings are understandable, but fortunately we also have facts to go on. In 19 states, at least some schools have armed teachers and staff. States have had these school carry rules in place for as long as 21 years, and not one school where teachers are armed has seen a mass public shooting. Not a single student has been harmed.

“Your Second Amendment rights are under siege.”

According to CNN, it is a myth that Democrats want to take away people’s guns. Recent polls show otherwise. A YouGov survey from February found that 73 percent of Democrats “strongly” favor banning all semi-automatic guns, the most common type of gun in America. People would be left with less-efficient weapons, such as revolvers and rifles that require the user to manually cycle the action after every shot. By contrast, only 25 percent of Republicans feel the same way.

A March 1 poll by Reuters found that 66 percent of Democrats supported such a ban.

There is a huge slate of proposed gun laws just waiting to be enacted if Democrats take control. We’d be looking at a minimum age of 21 for gun purchases, a ban on large numbers of semi-automatic guns, taxes on concealed-handgun permits, and fees that would make guns significantly more expensive. And this could be just the first round of regulations.

CNN claims that Trump was misleading when he said that Hillary Clinton posed a threat to people’s right to self-defense. But Clinton campaigned on the claim that “the Supreme Court is wrong on the Second Amendment.” Overturning a couple of Supreme Court decisions would have allowed the government to completely ban guns.

Jake Tapper and others in the mainstream media might actually have convinced themselves that President Trump is “continually” lying. But really, he has been a lot more accurate than they have been.
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