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February 25, 2016

How Bad Are Guns? As Bad as Tobacco, According to the Violence Policy Center


The Violence Policy Center led by its founder, Josh Sugarmann, would be more correctly called the “Anti-Gun Advocacy Center.”  Sugarmann was, in fact, the communications director for the accurately named National Coalition to Ban Handguns.  But that’s way too straightforward sounding these days.

So, in contrast, “Violence Policy Center” sounds a whole lot better, non-controversial even.  All reasonable people abhor violence of any kind.  But this organization does not study actual causes of violence or the various types of violent crime. That’s because its leader see guns as a cause not an instrumentality in criminality, and has a demonstrated record of misrepresenting data, cherry picking facts and distorting information in furtherance of his one real goal – gun control by any and all means.

Sugarmann is lead author of his organization’s latest propaganda exercise called “Start Them Young,” covered recently by the New York Times and which is an assault on the firearms industry, to be sure. But it is equally an attack on Americans who see nothing wrong with introducing their children to supervised recreational target shooting. In Sugarmann’s view to do so is to entice a new generation into an unhealthy and inherently dangerous activity.

But it’s worse than that, of course, the firearms industry is following in the time-honored tradition of another great American boogeyman, the tobacco industry, and seeking to addict youngsters to a life-time of psychopathological shooting and deadly firearms purchases. You see, we have to replace our aging and dying customer base at any cost.

We have to remember that it was Josh Sugarmann who bragged about inventing the “assault weapon” moniker as a way to confuse the public into thinking that semi-automatic sporting rifles were much the same as machine guns so it would be easier to ban them.

This report is a polemic and is so biased that it will appeal mostly to a hard-left anti-gun political audience. However, since our organization has been called out, along with the NRA (of course), our manufacturer companies and even the Junior Shooters website and magazine, we are going to respond without arguing every mistaken assumption and purposeful misrepresentation.

Sugarmann writes that our industry makes certain firearms to appeal to children to take up the shooting. It’s quite the opposite. Since children cannot buy their own guns, it is parents and other responsible relatives who seek firearms appropriately sized for their young charges as they introduce them to a lifetime of safe recreational target shooting. They have created the market and it has been going on for decades.  That a greater variety of models and colors (heaven forbid) are available is an indictment of progress in consumer choice across all products categories.

The statistics are on our side. Firearms sales are at record highs, even as the use of guns in violent crimes has been on a two-decade long downward trend (FBI) and accidents with firearms are the lowest since record-keeping began (National Safety Council).  So introduction of more firearms, let alone those actually designed to be more easily handled by youngsters under adult supervision, certainly has not increased the danger for youth safely learning to safely and responsibly use firearms.

As for that aging and dying demographic, women, parents of youth, and an increasing ethnically diverse customer base are purchasing firearms and keeping ranges busy.   In fact, competitive shooting is the fastest growing high school sport in the United States.

Here’s the worst part of Sugarmann’s polemic. Youth shooting sports are among the safest of activities. But to him, the skills learned are a gateway to crime and suicide. Is there evidence for that?  No, of course there’s not.  It would be a stunning leap in illogic for most human beings to make, but it’s not too much for a master propagandist to pen.

The answer (surely you saw this coming) is for a tobacco- industry level of scrutiny, marketing restrictions and regulation.  Yes, he hates guns that much and wants to take that page right from that regulatory playbook.

Here’s our final word, in case you have been wondering. So beneath contempt is this latest propaganda exercise from the Violence Policy Center that we chose not to quote from it or provide a link to it in this post. But because you can surely find it if you would like, we will provide a warning notice in the spirit of what you would find on an advertisement for a tobacco product: WARNING:  Reading this report will cause you to question the logic, reasoning and general sensibility of the author’s anti-gun mindset.