Gun lobby's lies

President Obama wrote the following in a New York Times column, published on Thursday:

“All of us need to demand leaders brave enough to stand up to the gun lobby’s lies.”

I am curious if the contributors to this board that are in favor of more gun control believe that the gun lobby has been lying, and if so, what specifically are the lies they’re telling?

Edit: I hope that I’m not running afoul of the “Liars, lying, and lies in Great Debates” rule. I’m merely quoting the president of the United States, not personally calling anyone a liar.

Here are some links I came up with by googling “gun lobby’s lies”.

Mother Jones, 10 Pro-Gun Myths

Think Progress, Five Lies the Gun Lobby Tells You

Armed with Reason, a takedown of the “research” by Dr. John R. Lott, the gun lobby’s favorite “academic”

My personal favorites include the one about Obama coming for your guns, in spite of the fact that nothing of the kind has happened in 7 years of his terms, and the one about how the prevalence of guns has nothing to do with the prevalence of murder by guns or even death by guns.

Note: these are notoriously liberal sites, but let’s please not indulge in ad hominem arguments using the sites’ orientation against their arguments.

No, I don’t intend to attempt to counter any gun control arguments in this thread. I’m just genuinely curious as to what “lies” gun control types think the gun lobby has been telling.

I’m a pro-gun rights guy. I can make a long list of misrepresentations, distortions, and erroneous interpretations from the folks in favor of gun control. My list of outright “lies” they tell, though, is much shorter. As I consider myself part of the “gun lobby”, I find it somewhat unsettling that the president has called me a liar. Especially coming behind the statement from the leading Democrat presidential candidate that she considers me, as a NRA member, her greatest enemy.

Thanks for responding.

Here are a few statements made by various gun rights organizations that have been judged as “lies” or “false” by an independent organization.

I think you should consider some of your statements more carefully. Obama didn’t call you a liar, since he probably has no idea if you have lied or not. Conversely, if you write a post “countering liberal lies,” you haven’t called me a liar even though I’m liberal. This error is known as the fallacy of composition: just because a Ferrari is an expensive car doesn’t mean that every piece of the car is expensive.

Here is yet another link(from 2008) to lies about Obama told by the NRA.

Here’s the problem with many of these claims: they contain a mix of fact, spin, and lie. This makes it difficult to pin down a statement as an unambiguous lie, and I fear here both to NRA claims and the refutations of those claims.

For example, one supposed lie from Czarcasm’s link is that the NRA claimed that Obama opposes your right to own a handgun.

He does, though.

Under certain circumstances, anyway.

The NRA’s blanket statement is certainly deceptive, because it invites the reader to infer that Obama opposes all private handgun ownership.

The refutation says that Obama supports an individual right to own a handgun, subject to “common sense,” restrictions. But the NRA rests its original claim on Obama’s state senate vote concerning a locality’s ability to forbid handguns in the home – this obviously preceded MacDonald v Chicago.

So it’s fair to say that in 2008, Obama’s voting record supports an inference that he was sanguine about Willamette, Illinois forbidding handgun ownership/storage in the home. Whether that restriction is “common sense,” or not is not a matter that can be called a lie, or called the truth; it’s opinion. The NRA surely feels it’s not; the rebuttal clearly supports the position that it is.

Similar analysis can, I expect, be applied to each and every claim above.

There is certainly a difference between saying something false and saying a lie. It is very often hard to adequately derive intent - someone knowing that something is false and saying it anyway, so that others will be misinformed.

What you said, Bricker, is that Obama’s voting record could be inferred to take a particular position, and then that inference was stated in a way so that the listener would believe that Obama’s position was substantially more extreme than how Obama would describe his position. Because whether or not “common sense” is a spot of contention, the NRA’s statement does not even hint at a caveat.

So Obama believes that statement - that he opposes your right to own a handgun - is a lie, which is what the OP was asking about. Surely you can agree that it’s a pretty significant misrepresentation, and it’s miles away from the truth.

More than once I pointed that I’m a liberal that does think the right to own guns goes to all citizens, the only issue I do have is that the NRA does indeed lie on many occasions to prevent even common sense legislation from passing.

On past discussions I found out that while many gun control supporters are wrong about concealed weapons increasing the number of dead, I also found that it does not also decease the number of people dying, much to the chagrin of both gun control supporters and opponents.

Where I do become really upset is when I see the gun lobby reach even for science denial when they oppose clear evidence like in the case of lead bullets affecting predators in our forests.

Following the play book of past merchants of doubt like the tobacco industry, while the most egregious past science denial was removed from the site, the site still goes to seed as many doubts it can regarding items like the “harm caused” by not having more substitute ammo, or hunters not allowed to hunt anymore; as the report from MediaMatters showed even those points are exaggerated or lies too.

One lie I run across a lot is “Enforce existing gun laws to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill.” Is the government being willfully lazy in keeping mental illness out of the records of potenrial gun buyers? No, they are prevented from doing so by legislation that gun rights groups force through legislatures. NRA, protecting the rights of violent sociopaths since 1871!

I don’t know about concealed vs. open carry, but I do know about the strong relationship between gun ownership and deaths:

Evidence that guns are more deadly than poison and knives available on request.

Here’s the good news:

We’ve had a massive decline in gun violence in the United States

And in addition to those mentioned in my last link, here’s the plausible big reason for that good death rate news:

Based on General Social Survey’s Trends in Gun Ownership in the United States (1972-2014), whilst the household ownership of guns have declined in the recent decades, it indicates that in 2010 and 2014, 32% of adults lived in households with firearms. This was a decline of almost 19% from an average of 51% in 1976-1982.

Missouri has fewer gun restrictions and increased firearm killings. It’s a really good read, and one of the first places where there is actual data an analysis from loosing gun control laws. Correlation does not prove causation, but the NRA and lobbiests have consistently persuaded Congress to not fund data and studies that might disprove “good guy with a gun”. Two paragraphs from the long read is:

In the past decade, Missouri has been a natural experiment in what happens when a state relaxes its gun control laws. For decades, it had one of the nation’s strongest measures to keep guns from dangerous people: a requirement that all handgun buyers get a gun permit by undergoing a background check in person at a sheriff’s office.

Research by Daniel Webster, the director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, found that in the first six years after the state repealed the requirement for comprehensive background checks and purchase permits, the gun homicide rate was 16 percent higher than it was the six years before. During the same period, the national rate declined by 11 percent. After Professor Webster controlled for poverty and other factors that could influence the homicide rate, and took into account homicide rates in other states, the result was slightly higher, rising by 18 percent in Missouri.In the past decade, Missouri has been a natural experiment in what happens when a state relaxes its gun control laws. For decades, it had one of the nation’s strongest measures to keep guns from dangerous people: a requirement that all handgun buyers get a gun permit by undergoing a background check in person at a sheriff’s office.

Oh, and here’s a pretty good overview of the anti-gun control playbook

I agree that the NRA’s statement cannot be reconciled with Obama’s public record, and that’s fair to say it’s a lie.

I suspect, though, that behind all the justifications, the NRA is actually saying, “We both know he wants to ban all guns, and just won’t admit it.” That is an untestable claim, and in my view falls outside the true/false continuum. There is of course no reliable way to know what he secretly wants.

I also suspect they might be taking a page from Calvin, of “…and Hobbes,” fame. In one strip, Calvin and Hobbes are on his bed and Calvin announces loudly, “Are there any monsters under my bed tonight?”

From beneath the bed several voices emerge: “Nope!” “No siree!” “Not at all!”

“Good!” says Calvin fiercely. “I’d hate to have to toast them with my flamethrower.”

Hobbes looks surprised. “You have a flamethrower?” he asks doubtfully.

Calvin shrugs. “They lie. I lie.”

That would be a lie unless every single person told that could not own a handgun under those circumstances. It’s not hard to find the lies, but it’s nearly pointless because the gun lobby doesn’t always lie, and you can point to any lobby or political effort and find a lie somewhere if you put the effort in. Then you look stupid if you base your fight and some minor taradiddles and can’t rebut the heart of your opponent’s argument.

Wow. I wasn’t aware of this.

Your link helps distinguish between lying and making an argument. If someone is making an argument they truly believe, and cherry-picks an example that they think supports it, that’s not a lie. It part of normal and fair give and take. It’s not the job of a poster in Great Debates to make the other side’s case.

As for John Lott, writing a paper that would get a C in a graduate seminar is not a lie. In other words, a bad argument is not a lie. But if John Lott announces the results of a study, purportedly with 2,400 respondents, that he never conducted (sounds likely but not proven to me beyond a shadow of doubt), or creates a Mary Rosh web sock puppet to say what a great guy he is (just plain proven), I think then we are getting into the L word realm.

If I was, God-forbid, the President of the United States, I might have said that the gun lobby was tragically mistaken, rather than that it was expressing lies. Then, I would never be elected to office.

Pres. Obama obviously feels troubled by the possibility that he could save lives and isn’t. Well he should. I think Obama is entitled to make the strongest case he can for his policies, so long as he doesn’t engage in Lott-style fabrication. I did not see that in the opt-ed.

opps, apologies, here’s the link for the Missouri “Fewer Gun Restrictions, More Gun Killings” piece in the NY Times.


For what it’s worth, the NRA’s claim looks a little better – although by no means transformed to a solid one – through the lens of Obama’s 1998 answer to an election issues questionnaire, in which he answered affirmatively the question about banning the sale and transfer of all semi-automatic weapons.

Through the link he answered? Go back to the link in my post, to the section marked "NRA Claim: “Ban the Manufacture, Sale and Possession of Handguns”, where it is explained

When he took another survey from the same group in 2003, his response to the question was this:

People who support guns for self-defense don’t consider* overall death toll *to necessarily be something to be decreased - because to them what matters is who’s being killed - robbers? Rapists? Serial killers? etc.

It’s not Obama. It’s every politician who talks about gun legislation. The argument that “they” are coming for are guns is based on the slippery slope methodology used on tobacco. No single politician will ask for it outright. It comes as a series of laws designed to whittle away at gun ownership. It can take many forms such as assigning a meaningless name to a gun as “assault rifle” and then attacking it or legislation on amunition. The politicians know this. The gun lobby knows this.

This is why there is such a tremendous push-back on gun laws.