The Rules of the Debate

December 11th, 2015 31 Comments

Maria Bartiromo


I happened to catch a portion of Sunday Morning Futures with Maria Bartiromo on Fox News this past Sunday. I was running late for church, so I only saw a small part of the segment where Ms. Bartiromo was interviewing two people, a man and a woman, both arguing for more gun control in the wake of the San Bernardino terrorist attack.

I tried, but I am afraid I am neither computer savvy enough nor patient enough to track down that particular segment, so I don’t have the names of the two panelists, but what I heard from the woman was a reference to the “thirty-thousand people killed in America every year by gun violence.” This went unchallenged by Ms. Bartiromo.

A moment later, the man jumped in and casually, almost as if the woman had never even spoken, made a reference to the “thirty-five-thousand people killed in America every year by gun violence.” There is a great difference between those two figures, yet this too went unchallenged by Ms. Bartiromo.

I do not expect journalists to be experts in every field. I routinely hear appalling nonsense go unchallenged even by journalists who profess to be gun owners, and while I’m confident Ms. Bartiromo is far smarter than I, I’m pretty sure she is not gun savvy, so I am not attacking her. What I am trying to point out is that absolute garbage is spouted regularly, on television, in newspapers, and by elected representatives from the president on down to the mayor of your home town. Sometimes this is done out of ignorance, and sometimes it is the kind of cynical, manipulative, cold-blooded lying that we hear, unfortunately, all too often from men and women in Washington devoid of ethics, morality, or even a rudimentary conscience. (Harry Reid would be a good example: “I have it on good authority that Mitt Romney has paid no taxes for the past ten years.”)

I received a lot of feedback and comments, both on my website and on my Facebook page, about my three most recent blogs (The New York Times and Reality; San Bernardino; and A Plague on All Their Houses), all of which touched on the issues of gun control and the second amendment. Some of the comments were clearly written by people who disagree with me about guns, people who sincerely believe that gun ownership somehow contributes to crime and violence in this country. That’s good; I welcome the concept of polite and civilized debate, but please note the words “polite” and “civilized.” Fortunately, I very rarely get comments or emails from people who are gratuitously rude, but under the “polite and civilized” rubric I include basic honesty and the courtesy of assuming that I too am doing my best to be honest. I am not a professional researcher, so when I quote a fact or figure, you can assume I have made a good-faith effort to be accurate and correct, but if I make a mistake, it is just that, a mistake. Please feel free to point it out; if I find you are correct and I am not, I will happily admit my error and note the change.

But on the part of those who wish to engage in debate, I would appreciate at least an attempt to quote unbiased sources for your facts and figures. As the exchange quoted above on Sunday Morning Futures shows, it all too easy for self-proclaimed pundits to throw out any erroneous number, and unfortunately, many people will believe it. Some people still believe Hillary Clinton dodged bullets at the airport in Bosnia. So I’m not interested in statistics that come from “Everytown [sic] for Gun Safety,” or “Moms Demand Action,” or “The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence,” or even news and media outlets such as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, MSNBC, or any other news outlet that is more interested promoting its own agenda than in any semblance of truth. I would not expect you to believe me if I cited only facts and figures from the NRA.

(Having said that, I will add that I spent the much of the first ten years that I owned a computer painstakingly tracking down every statistic and figure quoted by the NRA and I have never yet found them to have been dishonest. You may disagree with the conclusions they reach from their various sources, but if they quote the FBI Uniform Crime Report, for example, it’s invariably accurate.)

For the record, just to illustrate what I am talking about, the two panelists on Sunday Morning Futures couldn’t even agree on which lie to tell, and the “thirty-thousand people killed in America every year by gun violence,” is a lie, albeit a smaller one than the “thirty-five-thousand people” lie.

“Gun violence” is an imprecise term that implies murder. In fact, according the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report (and the FBI is the only agency that accurately tracks crime of all kinds in America, and it does so dispassionately, with no ax to grind) 8,124 people were murdered by firearm in 2014 (the last year for which there are figures). You can get up close to the thirty-thousand figure of total deaths by firearm by adding both suicide and accidental deaths, but you still can’t get up to thirty-five thousand. Both are lies by implication (studies have shown that suicide rates are unaffected by laws or weapons restrictions—consider Japan—and the number of accidental deaths by firearms is extremely small) only one of them is egregious.

And it’s not necessary; it’s bad enough that 8,124 people were murdered by firearms, most of them in gang-related inner-city violence our elected officials refuse to address. If you want to make a convincing argument for gun control, lying is not the way to do it. The people who believe Hillary dodged bullets in Bosnia may be gullible enough to swallow it, but it just turns the rest of us off.


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  1. Anonymous says:

    Well said.

    I cringe every time I hear flat out lies come from people’s mouths on the subject of gun control. Mostly it is the Left that is doing it.

    The 30k to 35k Killed by gun violence like you have pointed out is complete garbage.

    355 mass shootings in America this year is another one that sprouted up in the past few weeks which is also a flat out lie being spread. It is more like 4 or 5, if I remember correctly.

    It has been said from the POTUS and many others in the media that American is the leading country in mass shootings around the world. That is a lie too, America is listed as number 8 on the list, not number 1.

    It’s sad, because people hear that crap and believe it. They take it at face value because it was said on TV. And like you pointed out, JP, a lot of the times the media interviewer lets them get away with it. A few times I have been watching Hannity and O’Reilly when somebody has made a false claim Sean or Bill will call them out on it. Glad somebody does.

    TD Bauer

    • Anonymous says:

      I have heard that 355 number several times in news cast. This was said by the anchor. I also have heard it said by various Democrats.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I hate to jump on someone’s page and go off on what lying idiots I think liberals are, so I won’t. :/ Remember the “who said they could see Russia from their house?” Most liberals thought it was Sarah Palin when actually it was Tina Fey saying it on SNL. Please people, get a clue. Do your own research before you open your pie holes. And please people, don’t call me a GOPbot because they have their issues too, but all out lying is “usually” not one of them.

  3. Anonymous says:

    The National review

    Liberals push gun control after the San Bernadino shooting.

  4. Anonymous says:

    The opponents of the 2nd Amendment are obviously trying to persuade those who haven’t formed an opinion to believe their deception and reinforce the beliefs of those who are already in their camp. It is really annoying that the pro side is rarely given air time on these shows. I think JP would be a great on-air spokesman.

    I am more struck by how such topics are discussed on a program that is presumably more about economics and economic policy than about this topic. No doubt because it is currently a hot topic it might be reasonable to expect it to be covered and maybe this show really does normally cover more broad topics outside the economy. I dropped my pay TV for financial reasons so don’t watch this show, but looking at the video clips on the shows website it does appear that she gets into topics outside the economy so maybe this is to be expected.

    But it would have been more interesting and relevant to have discussion about the recent uptick in S&W and Ruger stock and business forecasts for companies like Cabela’s including the recent rumors that Cabela’s may undergo a buy out of some kind. Calls for gun bans is why Obama is well known as the “salesman of the century.” Seems like a great topic for a financial journalist.

    So has JP ever been asked to appear on any of these kinds of shows? Should we start a letter (email/web post) campaign to get JP on her show! Apologies in advance to JP if he isn’t enthusiastic about that idea, but I’m sure he would be a great spokesman for the fight. Gee there is probably a TV studio in a Bakersfield Fox affiliate that could broadcast it so no need to go all the way to LA.

    Finally, how effective is this mis-information in driving a mass a successful movement towards gun rights restrictions and elimination? Doesn’t seem that it really is at this point, but given time it might be and no doubt that is really the strategy here.

    Keep up the good fight Mr. Parker and thanks for sharing your insights.


  5. Anonymous says:

    Hi, JP!

    I appreciate the time you take to blog.

    Just wondering what you would consider “unbiased sources for facts and figures”.

    Mine are NPR radio & PBS.



    • Because of the mountains we can’t get a signal for NPR, but while I find PBS unabashedly liberal, they do attempt to be honest. The problem with them is that there is no one there who knows anything about firearms, so they too spout the same old lies that are spouted by every anti-gun source. Sadly, most people who are not gun owners or knowledgeable about gun issues will believe the Joseph Goebbels-style repetition of completely false data, and some of them are so convinced it is accurate that even when confronted with truthful facts from the FBI, they respond as Alan Colmes did, by saying, “Oh, I don’t believe that.” In other words, they refuse to believe anything other than the misinformation they have already chosen to believe. I would have no interest in discussing anything with anyone who has that kind of closed-door mentality.

  6. Anonymous says:

    “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”

    Joseph Goebbels quotes
    Similar Quotes. About: Politics quotes, Propaganda quotes, Psychology quotes.
    Add to Chapter…

  7. Anonymous says:

    If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed.”

    ― Adolf Hitler

    • Anonymous says:

      Trump is following in Adolf’s footsteps.

      • Anonymous says:

        Really? Trump is a blowhard, but he is not Adolf Hitler.

        • Anonymous says:

          In the run up to Hitler’s rise to power, the media coverage surrounding him and his wacky ideas wasn’t a lot unlike what we’re seeing with Trump now.

          The last Republican debate is in March. They’ll pick their candidate in June. That’s just less time for Trump to be put in a position where he has to explain how any of his ideas would work.

  8. Anonymous says:

    It’s always made me wonder when a reporter or news figure doesn’t challenge some comment made by a person on their program. I don’t know if they just don’t care or don’t know enough about what is being talked about to challenge the person. Whatever the reason I too wish that ones that want to talk on the subjects would make sure of all their figures before they introduce them. It is very confusing for us that don’t have total access to know who is really right. I appreciate that your posts are always well thought out and that you do your best to check out some things before you post if you don’t have first hand knowledge of the subject.
    Gun control is a fine thought but the problem seems to be they want to control the law abiding citizen and not put as much concern to the fact that criminals still would find a way to get a gun. If they would start trying to do something more about the gang members and other criminals that have guns then some of us might be a bit more willing to listen about their proposed gun control ideas, but then I could be wrong on that as well.

    Nancy Darlene

  9. Anonymous says:

    I’ve been reading your blog since you started it and therefore I believe I have a good handle on your views and opinions.
    If you spent half as much time researching and offering your views for realistic and worthy solutions to America’s gun problems instead of so much effort in defending or arguing the numbers, calling out errors of those who hold opposing opinions, and repeatedly pointing out your constitutional rights, I’d have a whole lot more respect for you.
    We get it; you stand behind the right to bear arms. But what are some solutions to your country’s gun problems? Forget who’s got the correct stats. Whether it’s murder by guns, suicide by guns, or injury by gunshot, you have to agree that there’s a big problem with gun violence in America. You’re taking the easy route in this debate, JP.
    My challenge to you is to do some research on solutions. Give us your opinions on what might work to reduce gun violence instead, and use this platform of yours more positively.

    • The solutions are found in the root causes which I have alluded to multiple times, most recently in the post, “The New York Times and Reality” (Dec. 5), namely: poverty; lack of job opportunities; family breakdown; academic failure; peer pressure. The problem is that the solutions cannot be found, let alone enacted, if the root causes are not identified by name. Just as pundits and politicians on the right correctly criticize Barack Obama for refusing to say the words “radical Islamic terrorism” (as if that might offend the many millions of Muslims around the world who think as little of ISIS as the rest of us), so too politicians should be held accountable for not naming, never mind addressing, the cycle of hopelessness that makes gang life an attractive alternative for impoverished inner-city young men. But that failure is even worse because not only do politicians and the media not address those issues, they deflect away from any conversation or attempt to find a solution by falsely claiming that guns are the problem. Consider how little time most of us spend thinking about the various issues that face our country; so if you are not a gun owner, or interested in guns, you might well accept the ridiculous, totemistic proposition that somehow an inanimate object causes people to do dreadful things, and having accepted it, cease to look any further.
      We could have a lengthy debate about what solutions might work. Democratic presidential hopefuls advocate more of the various federal programs we have had since LBJ; Republicans advocate job creation; my personal opinion is that it is a state issue that should be addressed and resolved by the affected states, and that the federal government should restrict itself to putting financial pressure on the states to solve their individual problems individually. But I do not write about such things in part because I don’t know enough about them to contribute intelligently, and in part because I do very honestly believe that assigning blame to guns and the NRA is a cold-blooded, Machiavellian, feel-good strategy by politicians to make themselves look good while avoiding having to do any real thinking or real work. Passing another meaningless law is easy. Making meaningful changes in a society is not only hard, but it is only productive after many years or generations, and that won’t get Senator Fatcat reelected.

      • Anonymous says:

        December 12, 2015 @ 12:16 here again,

        I agree that you have alluded to some causes of gun violence in some posts, but sir, that is not offering any type of solution or hope to a serious problem. To say you don’t want to offer an opinion because you don’t know enough about the issues to write intelligently is a cop out. You’re obviously a smart fellow and going by your posts you are very well informed on current events.

        I like your idea that each state should take steps to help alleviate such social issues as poverty, unemployment, lack of education etc., however I would like to have seen you take my request more seriously. Thus let me offer a thought; since you are a member, how about proposing that the NRA starts funding specific social services in areas hardest hit by gun violence. Something like offering free tuition, or lobbying for gun amnesty programs in one or two of areas of the country would be a more effective use of NRA’s money than all the lobbying and campaigns trying to Inform people that “guns are not the problem”.

        You’re response above brings to mind the adage, ” if you aren’t part of the solution you become part of the problem.” Because, as I see it, gun violence, and all the “root causes” are everyone’s problem.

        • I wasn’t copping out at all; addressing the root causes of inner-city violence IS the solution; anything less than that is putting a Band-Aid on the ugly mole and hoping the melanoma will go away. But I am not equipped to address the mechanics of how to best to solve those problems; that is a specialized field dominated by social workers and educators and on-the-ground community organizers. I would have thought, indeed I initially had high hopes, that Barack Obama would have taken some steps to ameliorate some of those issues, but he has chosen to turn his back on inner-city black-on-black gang violence, while focusing (sometimes completely erroneously) on individual cases of white officers shooting black thugs like Michael Brown in Fergusson.
          As for the NRA getting involved in social issues, that is not its mandate. I know many people believe the media drum beat about the NRA’s “massive resources” and “unlimited funds,” but that is not in fact the case. Michael Bloomberg, who in addition to his anti-gun mania is also very concerned about various societal issues (to his credit, though he sometimes happily disregards the constitution in his attempts to solve those problems) is worth more, personally, than all the dues paid into the NRA since its inception. The NRA does spend a lot of its money promoting safety programs geared to various age groups, but of course many schools won’t even allow a safety program funded by the NRA to darken their politically correct doors.
          A more valid approach, mentioned below by T.D. Bauer, would be for the government to enforce the laws it already has on the books. This is not the place, nor do I have the time at the moment, to document the numerous examples of the federal government failing to enforce its own very stringent laws pertaining to the illegal use of firearms, but as you seem to be genuinely concerned, I will give you one example:
          President Obama recently, very publicly, commuted the sentences of many drug dealers, citing them as “non-violent offenders.” I would ask you to do the research and tell me of every case you can find where a drug dealer was arrested who did not have a firearm in his possession. Beyond that, the majority of the sentences Obama commuted were the result of plea-bargaining, so the drug dealer in question might well have shot his rival, but he plea-bargained his sentence down to a charge that did not include murder. Is that an effective way to deal with the root causes of violence?
          Finally, the fact that you and I are having this debate is a good thing, and while I may disagree with some of your positions, I appreciate your being concerned enough and open-minded enough to enter into the lion’s den.

      • Anonymous says:

        Well said again JP. Extremely difficult to address root causes and will not be easy to resolve, and sadly may never be completely solvable. But those that keep wanting to go back to “ban the guns!” don’t want to accept that. I’m increasingly cynical that if they aren’t out for other nefarious motives by disarming us they are at a minimum ensuring the exploitation and suffering of these root cases for power or perverse pleasure. Maybe that’s too strong, but it sure is starting to look that way to me.

        Looking for politicians to actually work to solve the real problems seems to be the ultimate exercise in futility.

        When are you going to write the book on the 2nd Amendment? I promise to buy multiple copies and try to get them some to those who are in opposition.


      • Anonymous says:

        I would suggest that the current laws that are on the books actually get enforced and people get prosecuted for breaking them before any new laws get passed. Like prosecuting people who knowingly lie on the form 4473 (Firearm Transaction Record for new gun purchases).

        You have gun laws on the books right now that would put away felons with a gun, drug dealer with a gun, gang banger with a gun… the people who are actually committing the largest amount of the murders in this country… but it doesn’t happen. You need to have the adequate numbers of people in law enforcement to do it, and we don’t. Instead Liberal Politicians wait until there is a mass shooting event to scream for more gun laws – which will also not get enforced or take guns away from the criminals.

        Point of fact: Joe Biden back in January 2013 said “We don’t have time to prosecute everybody who lies on background checks”. Yet Liberal politicians want to pass more laws… more laws that they don’t have time to prosecute.

        We need to start pushing Washington to start enforcing the current laws and stop passing new laws.

        Another angle is to look at the mental health issue in regards to these mass shootings. Look back at all the major mass shootings and you will see that the person who committed them was not only mentally unstable, but it was known that they were mentally unstable and a potential threat to others. Yet the States they lived in had not reported them to the NICS (National Instant Criminal Background Check System). Jared Lee Loughner who shot six people and injured thirteen others including Sen Gabbrielle Giffords bought his gun legally but was well known to be unstable and a danger to others. James Holmes who shot up the theater in Colorado killing seven and injuring 70 also bought his guns legally and was well known to be unstable. Adam Lanza who killed twenty children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary was unstable, and had guns his mother had bought that were in his home. Seung-Hui Cho, the Virginia Tech Shooter, killed thirty-two people and was again well known to be a danger to himself and others but bought his guns legally…

        All of the shooters above came to mind very quickly – all were know to be mentally unstable and in therapy. Most bought their guns themselves, one had them available in his home because of a family purchase and were not kept secure from easy access.

        We have a thing called ‘due process’ in this country. A person can’t loose Constitutional Rights without due process. But maybe we can do a better job reporting people who are known to be mentally unstable to the NICS system, so that a ‘hold until review’ can be processed on the individual. I don’t know if that is a good idea or bad idea, just throwing it out there as an idea.

        TD Bauer

  10. Anonymous says:

    Misinformation has alway been a part of our lives and readily available. Once it used to take a little while to get to you while gathering strength along the way. It’s not just a local or national problem anymore, it’s a global, instantaneous, and so much harder to quash. True facts? Regrettably they are sometimes not sensational enough. Thanks JP for giving it your best shot.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Yeah, I actually think that someone going to the effort to maintain one a these here blogs and monitoring it and stimulating conversation IS doing something positive regarding all these issues(and writing SOOOOO darn entertainingly! Ha!) As for these damn statistics used to warp peoples'(lack of) common sense–the FIRST thing I think of when I hear such numbers is–exactly how many lives were SAVED by being able to participate and return fire in that gun violence? A big chunk of those “statistics” likely involve LIVES SAVED by having something to SHOOT BACK WITH! What scares me more than guns is that the majority of folks these days are too stupid to realize this. Who was it that said(paraphrased) “Never underestimate the danger of large numbers of stupid people”! And in regards to the cops having weapons and protection as good or better than the criminals of our times(as written about in that earlier post….) Gawd, why wouldn’t anybody? If our guvmint gets too totalitarian(which it ain’t likely to be allowed to if’n we keep that 2nd amendment–ahem!), we can cross THAT bridge if and when we ever need to. Let’s not end up like Mexico where the better-armed-than-the-cops cartels totally control various districts!…..L.B.

    • Anonymous says:

      I have tried to research the number of lives guns save every year while in the hands of law abiding citizens. It is actually a hard number to tally, as there is no one single statistic out there to pull from and many incidents don’t get officially reported.

      I have found some interesting numbers though; that as many as 200k women use a firearm each year in America to defend themselves from sexual assault – that is just the defense against sexual assault. There are other broader statistics that I have not been able to substantiate but that I see popping up everywhere is that between one and two million times per year a gun is used to stop a crime, which includes law enforcement use.

      TD Bauer

  12. Anonymous says:

    It seems that President Obama is going to try to push background checks through even if the congress and the American people don’t like it.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Just curious, JP:

    Do you remember what guns you worked with on Simon & Simon.

    I’d like to hear more about them.


    • At the outset, two M1911s: one for AJ (one episode), one for Rick (several episodes). They were abandoned because of feeding problems; knowing what I know now, those problems could have been easily resolved by changing the recoil springs, but knowledge is accrued slowly and cannot be applied retroactively. The M1911s were replaced by a “Dirty Harry” Smith & Wesson .44 magnum for Rick, and a Smith & Wesson .357/.38 for AJ. We had a small arms instructor working with us (purely by accident) who instructed us in the what was then the latest and most up-to-date law enforcement technique. Looking back now, from the vantage point of someone who has taken more defensive shooting classes than I can enumerate, it all looks very amateurish, but then we weren’t making a documentary, so… Today, looking at the trailers I see on television for the latest hot new shows, I see mistakes that any of my instructors in the past few years would beat me over the head for, but perhaps a lot of police officers and cognoscenti who watched Simon & Simon felt the same way. Life marches on.

      • Anonymous says:

        Hi JP,

        Were the 1911’s chambered in 45 ACP or 9MM? I ask because the one Tom Selleck used in Magnum , P.I. was actually a 9mm because of 45 ACP blank problems (and perhaps recoil just like Eastwood actually shot a Model 25 45 colt in firing scenes instead of the Model 29 44 Mag). Running blanks definitely means using lighter springs in an autoloader since there is less recoil energy. See

        I’ve been re-watching the Simon shows lately on Cozi (haven’t seen them since the 80’s buy I often remember the basic stories within minutes of them starting) and have noticed things to nit-pick on occasion. However I tend to suspect most current shows are far worse, but then I rarely watch current era shows outside of some of the PBS stuff so can’t say for certain.

        So was there a full-time consultant person on the show? Or just a propmaster/armorer for the props?

        Can you name any of the places you’ve done training at? Do you know Massad Ayoob or ever go to Gun Site?

        What about holsters? Did you have to go through many to find the perfect one? There are many stories about how the Miami Vice rig was developed and fitted to Don Johnson after he found the first season/pilot episode one they gave him didn’t work for him.

        Thanks for sharing info about the show’s guns—very cool to hear about that.

        There’s a few magazine articles out there about shows, but I don’t recall anything on Simon.



      • Anonymous says:

        My first handgun I bought when of legal age twenty-one years ago was a Model 629 S&W with a 6 inch barrel, and I bought it because I wanted a big caliber revolver somewhat similar to Gerald McRaney’s from the show. Still have that gun, but it has become a safe queen over the years unless I carry it for backup when bear hunting. I was also a fan of Magnum P.I. (and now Blue Bloods), and these days it’s all about my M1911-A1 from Springfield Armory. Like you said you need to know a little about 1911’s to make them run and eat anything, and it’s well worth it when you have a real tac-driver. Now, with that said, I recently bought an XDm 4.5″ chambered in 9MM with a stainless slide… never thought I would own a polymer gun, but damn it sure is growing on me. I have been thinking about making it my EDC.

        TD Bauer

  14. Anonymous says:

    Aw, Sweet!

    Thanks for responding, JP.

    Loved the Simon brothers. They always had each other’s back.
    Found their arguments quite amusing. 🙂

    I’d rather watch AJ & Rick on DVD than anything that’s offered


  15. Anonymous says:


    False information is a problem. Facebook seems to have escalated that problem. Someone will share a news story or stats without checking out the credibility of the story and facebook friends will share that story, without checking out the credibility and the misinformation becomes ‘truth’. I learned long ago to always check stories on FB that get my attention.
    Also, I do agree when you say the problems go back to peer pressure, family breakdown, poverty, etc…But, I also see it as a heart problem. And only God can fix that for all of us.

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