July 10, 2001
More Anti-Gun Junk Science Is AMA Honchos Real Goal
by Joseph P. Tartaro
There is a not-so-subtle element to the story about the new AMA presidents speech reported in this online edition (click here to read) that deserves closer scrutiny.
The core of the AMA honchos pitch was that he wants to assure that Congress restores research funding for the Centers for Disease Control so they can provide more propaganda for the gun-grabber agenda. Congress had taken that money away during the Clinton years when it was shown that the CDCs junk science had a political purpose. That purpose, of course, was more restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms.
What made the CDC-funded research so special was that it was backed with the full faith and credit of the federal government. People are more likely to believe the reports when the headlines can say government research shows .
The CDC research is the fulcrum the anti-gunners need to make their claims believable and soften the public for further infringements of the Second Amendment.
The anti-gunners are not alone, of course. Any group with a special agenda needs to keep their project in the public eye and needs to shape the publics attitude toward a given goal.
Reports in Conflict
Left to their own devices, federal agencies can issue confusing reports, as they did recently with crime statistics. The FBI issued a report on the crime statistics for the latest year, which suggested that the downward trend in crime rates was over. Media reports added more confusion as some reporters interpreted the statistics to suggest that crime was on the rise, because of a statistically insignificant increase in some major crime categories. Others merely said the drop in rates recorded in several years had ended.
But then a different branch of the Justice Department, using statistics gathered in an on-going national crime survey, said that the drop in crime rates was continuing. Of course, when further success in crime reduction was noted, different people assigned the credit to different initiatives.
Violent crime in the United States fell by a record 15% in 2000, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Associated Press was quick to note that some experts cautioned that the survey was weighted toward less serious offenses. Other government data, released just days earlier, indicated that a seven-year decline in crimes such as rape and murder has leveled off.
The 2000 result was the largest one-year drop since 1973, when the Justice Department began the annual survey of crimes reported firsthand by victims but not necessarily to police.
Sen. Joseph Biden (D-DE) said a Clinton-era initiative to get a larger police presence on the streets played a major role in the drop in crime. The program, part of 1994 Crime Bill that also banned so-called assault weapons that Biden helped design seven years ago, envisioned putting 100,000 officers on the streets.
This report is further proof that the strategy we put into effect in 1994 is working, said Biden. I hope the Bush Administration reads this report and revisits its decision to end effective crime fighting measures like the COPS program.
Politicians like Biden know how to take advantage of any report that supports their agenda. But if they can also shape the nature of the research and the conclusions, so much the better. Then they dont have to rely on polls and studies that have lesser credibility.
A good example of such studies made a little news on June 12, when the results of a poll commissioned by a non-government anti-gun organization were released.
The publicity releases claimed that a comprehensive nationwide survey found that more than 80% of registered voters support licensing handgun owners and registering handguns, and fully 88% favor criminal background checks for all handgun purchasesa critical component of a strong licensing system.
The survey of 1,000 registered voters was commissioned by the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence and conducted by the firm of Lake, Snell, Perry, and Associates from May 15-21, 2001. The researchers claimed a margin of error of plus-or-minus 3.1%.
Also reported in this poll were attitudes of National Rifle Association (NRA) supporters toward specific new gun law proposals. The poll found that three quarters of NRA supporters favor measures such as licensing and registration.
This led Joshua Horwitz, chairman of the group which sponsored the survey, to claim: Americans overwhelmingly support common sense policies like licensing and registration and universal criminal background checks to stop the transfer of handguns to criminals and youth.
Horwitz used all of the familiar anti-gun buzzwords in reporting on the results of the survey in an effort to shape public attitudes, congressional attitudes and White House attitudes. He also made no bones about linking the survey to legislation currently before Congress.
Congress is currently considering legislation to close the gun show loophole by conducting criminal background checks at gun shows. Our poll indicates that the public wants all loopholes closed through a system of licensing and registrationa system that would mandate criminal background checks on all sales, Horwitz said.
The survey highlighted some key findings. These included:
With reports of polling such as that conducted for the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence backed by CDC research, the anti-gunners would be in a better position to convince not just the public, but perhaps even the White House, that their agenda is widely supported.
Such research is essential if the anti-gunners are to continue to pursue a key element of their propaganda campaign: that gunowners and even NRA members support their agenda. This is important to the continuing campaign to paint pro-gun leaders as extremists who are out of touch with mainstream America, including even gunowners.
That is why the speech by the AMAs new president is so important. The AMA has consistently followed an anti-gun political agenda in recent years, often to the dismay of many of its members, and especially the physicians and surgeons who choose not to join the organization.
Condors and Lead
But junk science and junk polls targeting guns and gunowners directly, like those sponsored by the AMA, the CDC and groups like the Educational Funds to Stop Gun Violence, are not the only threats. The Violence Policy Center has produced its own junk science to discourage people from any kind of recreational shooting by claiming that shooting ranges pose a health hazard.
And still others have their own subtle approaches. The Los Angeles Times reported on June 21 that bullet lead is poisoning California condors.
One of Americas great environmental success stories, the repopulating of California condors is now threatened by lead, the same thing that killed so many of the birds in the past, The Times reported.
Bird G32 is cited as one of four condors to die because of lead poisoning from bullets in the past year.
In March, scientists on the California Condor Recovery Team called on the federal government to take steps to eliminate lead bullets on some public lands and to encourage the use of lead-free ammunition, The Times claimed, before saying that the government did not respond.
Condors may indeed ingest lead as described, but given the current focus on environmental issues and the diligence of anti-gunners, this could easily be used as another club to batter gunowners.
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