April 06, 2009

Beastly Lies

Harold Evans, editor and historian according to his bio, can now added "discredited crank" to his list of accomplishments, all thanks to a rant he published in Tina Brown's The Daily Beast.

The rant, Accomplices to Murder, attacks, well, nearly everyone as being an accomplice in the recent spate of mass shootings.

Indeed, Evans may have something when he accuses the society at large for creating an environment where such barbaric events are too commonplace. But Evans goes over the line in attempting to fix blame to certain people and groups in a rant howled into type.

Unencumbered by his former roles as a historian and editor, Evans has now descended to printing blatant falsehoods to support his position, acts which should result in a retraction of his article, and perhaps a re-evaluation of his relationship with the Beast.

He rants:

All these gun killings—43 in total—occurred over the last 26 days. All harvest profuse expressions of sympathy and prayers for the families and the communities. The detestation for the killers is universal. How could it not be? These are crazed and evil people. They merit our detestation.

But they are not alone in their guilt. The people who put guns into the hands have a share of that ignominy. Who are they?

The guilty are the gun dealers at flea markets and state shows who will sell any number of weapons to anyone—juveniles, criminals, nuts—without any background check or records.

By federal law, licensed gun dealers must have perspective purchasers fill out ATF Form 4473. Dealers then must check a government issued photo ID and then must call the FBI-run NICS (National Instant Criminal Background Check System) for a background check of the buyer.

This background check must be performed by gun dealers for all firearms transactions, at their primary business front location in a guns store, a flea market, or a gun show. There are no exceptions, and form 4473 specifically includes question #17 on the form that asks "Location of sale if at a gun show. (city, state)".

Only individuals who are not gun dealers may sell their private firearms without a background check according to federal law, though that varies according to the laws of individual states.

Mr. Evans flatly lies when he says dealers are not required to perform a background check, as direct links to the government web sites and documents above clearly shows. This lie is pervasive enough throughout his screed, and forms enough of the underlying thesis, to demand that the rant be retracted in its entirety.

But Evans is just warming up, and he is likewise deceptive when he implies the Mexican cartels are heavily-armed because of lax U.S. gun laws.

83% of the firearms captured by Mexican law enforcement in the past two years –more than 20,000—came from sources other than the U.S civilian market, and most come primarily from the international black market.

Mexican cartels are often armed with hand grenades, automatic weapons, and anti-tank rockets—weapons unavailable on the U.S market at any price.

But nowhere does Mr. Evans display his ignorance more than when he discusses the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban.

The assault weapons "ban" did not ban assault weapons. The popularity, sale, and ownership of semi-automatic military-style weapons grew over the ten-year course of the ban, all quite legally. Several American gun companies that build "assault weapons" exclusively grew over the course of the ban, and the already low rate of crimes committed with such weapons never deviated substantially from the roughly 2% that it was before, during, and after the ban.

The actual net effect of the ban was no reduction in crimes committed with the class of firearms covered in the ban, an actual increase in the distribution and popularity of so-called "assault weapons," and the creation of an entirely new class of ultra-compact and powerful handguns designed for concealed carry, which brought even more specialized gun manufacturers into existence.

The Department of Justice study Evans sought to cite as evidence of a drop in gun crime as a result of the ban also seems utterly irrelevant to his argument, and a bit of a purposeful red herring. We don't know precisely which report he refers to because he omits that detail, but by Evans' own description, the DOJ study was for automatic weapons, not the semi-automatics covered in the ban. Evans can't even plead ignorance of the difference in the terms, as he explains the difference between automatic and semi-automatic himself:

...semi-automatic fire (one trigger pull per shot but with magazines enabling the user to fire hundreds of rounds in a minute).

He knows the difference, but appears intent on conflating the terms on purpose. Is he being purposefully deceptive? It would appear so.

The only person "guilty" in this shameful display of collapsed ethics is one Mr. Harold Evans, who commits the journalistic sin of deceiving and misleading his readers, massacring truth along the way.

Update—A Nepotistic Beast? As "happyfeet" points out in the comments, the head of the Daily Beast, Tina Brown is married to Harold Evans.

Will she chose to retract her husband's sloppy rant, or risk the integrity of her latest venture and her life's work as an editor, along with Barry Diller's investment in her leadership?

Posted by Confederate Yankee at April 6, 2009 02:40 PM

Isn't that Tina's husband?

Posted by: happyfeet at April 6, 2009 05:54 PM

You mean there are people out there who can pull a trigger >3 times per second and keep it up for at least a minute? I want to meet them! And I want some of the multi-hundred round mags they use.

Posted by: Jeffrey Quick at April 6, 2009 08:17 PM

So you caught this dufus being dishonest. Think it will make any difference? Retraction? I don't think so. Today's liberals are far too dishonest to be interested in facts, they would prefer to deal in 'feelings'.

The more I deal with Liberals, the more I wish duels were still in fashion. Keeps honesty and integrity at a maximum.

Posted by: Mephitis at April 7, 2009 12:09 AM

The man was clearly nuts. Specfically schizophrenic. Now the reason he is on the street is that the liberals do not see a problem with violent crazy people mixing with the general population. Thus they did away with all the nut houses many years ago. When these were in place we did not have a homeless problem and incidents of this nature were rare.

Posted by: david at April 7, 2009 11:40 AM

"The gunshow loophole" is one of those things everybody knows and shrug off any statement to the contrary.

Hey, all they want is "reasonable restrictions." Just like they kept saying during Heller when they called those DC laws/regs "reasonable."

Posted by: teqjack at April 7, 2009 12:37 PM
Only individuals who are not gun dealers may sell their private firearms without a background check according to federal law, though that varies according to the laws of individual states.

What specifically differentiates a private individual from a dealer? How many guns am I allowed to sell before having to register as a dealer, and how can the government track this if I'm not running checks? Isn't this the loophole that Evans is talking about?

Honest questions, I'm not clear on the specifics here.

Posted by: trizzlor at April 8, 2009 04:11 AM

Notice that the picture chosen for the piece shows two young men holding "assault weapons". Also notice that the two weapons on the left (to the left on the wall and the 2-toned rifle held by the guy in the white shirt) are XM-8 battle rifles, a weapon that was never actually produced by HK (program canceled in 2005) other than a few hundred prototypes. They are certainly NOT available on the civilian market.

My guess is these guns aren't even real, but airsoft copies. Civilians (or even law enforcement) simply cannot buy a XM-8, so if the XM-8 pictured is real, it must be from a SHOT Show or some other expo, not from a gun shop/show.

The gun held by the guy in blue appears to be a HK UMP with a short barrel which is civilian legal only as a semi-auto SBR, requiring the same form 4 and extra background checks as civilian transferable full-autos. A short barreled MP5 (on wall to right) is available as a semi-auto SBR or transferable full-auto but again, with the extra red tape that goes with any form 4 transfer.

The picture implies that anyone can walk into a gun show and buy up short-barreled UMPs and MP5s (and prototype weapons never actually produced for either military or civilian market) which is flatly untrue. Just like Bob pointed out in his post about the picture of LAW rockets and rifle-grenades in the article about US guns being used by cartels in Mexico, this is yet another example of how the media uses misleading images to perpetrate their anti-gun agenda.

Posted by: Eric at April 8, 2009 12:17 PM

Excellent eyes, Eric.

That exact photo is from one of the recent SHOT shows... 2006, I think.

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at April 8, 2009 12:43 PM

What differentiates them? A federal felony. Anyone who is in the business of buying and selling firearms must obtain a federal firearms license. This includes every Walmart, sporting goods store, individual, pawn shop and dealer at a gun show or flea market. Even gunsmiths must obtain a license. Failure to do so subjects the violator to imprisonment for a federal felony. Moreover, you cannot obtain guns from a manufacturer, importer, distributor, wholesaler or other licensed dealer without having an original signed copy of your license on file with them in advance. Theoretically, an individual might buy guns from individuals to sell to other individuals, but that seems very impractical and in any event would be a federal crime.

All licensed dealers must do a background check to sell to a non-dealer individual. The ATF actively cruises gun shows and gun shops looking for someone foolish enough to sell a gun off the books. Also, dealers must keep a license of all guns acquired and disposed of. The ATF checks these books. Any guns not recorded can result in loss of the license and maybe jail time.

How many guns? Just one if you are in the business.

How can the government track this? You can't buy from distributors, etc without the license. You can be sure the ATF prowls gun shows and flea markets just looking for a junk merchant who might carelessly offer an old .22 for sale among their other crap. There are no store front, flea market or gun shows unlicensed dealers out there. No for more than a day or two, at most.

Of course, none of this keeps criminals from buying stolen or smuggled guns from other criminals to furtively sell to criminals. Gun laws do little or nothing to disarm criminals.

Posted by: George Bruce at April 9, 2009 03:33 PM