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Gazette Premium Content On guns, President Obama prefers politics over reality

The Gazette editorial Published: July 15, 2013

The economy remains the voting public's top issue, yet President Barack Obama has focused on anything but job creation since winning re-election.

Obama claims he pursues lower-priority goals based on "science." Yet when he recently announced a climate change initiative, the president ignored scientific data showing global warming projections have been wrong for more than a decade.

Obama has been just as willfully blind to hard data when pushing another pet cause: gun control. In January, seeking to exploit the Newtown tragedy, Obama issued a slate of executive orders, including one directing a federal review of firearm violence research. The report, prepared by the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council, has been released.

But you probably haven't heard about it for one simple reason: The findings don't support the gun control agenda.

Although more than 105,000 people were wounded or killed in the United States in firearm-related incidents in 2010, what often goes unmentioned is that most were suicides, not individuals gunned down by others.

The federal report states, "Between the years 2000 and 2010, firearm-related suicides significantly outnumbered homicides for all age groups, annually accounting for 61 percent of the more than 335,600 people who died from firearm related violence in the United States."

The report, citing FBI data, also acknowledges "crime rates have declined in the past decade and violent crimes, including homicides, specifically, have declined in the past 5 years." The period studied coincides with increased gun ownership.

Gun control proponents have sought bans on "assault weapons," yet those guns are rarely used for criminal activity. The government report notes, "Handguns are used in more than 87 percent of violent crimes." And Americans have good reason to seek guns for self-defense: "Over 600,000 victims of robbery and other crimes reported that they faced an assailant armed with a gun," the report says.

When law-abiding citizens are armed, the result is usually positive. The Obama-sanctioned report found "that defensive gun uses by victims are at least as common as offensive uses by criminals, with estimates of annual uses ranging from about 500,000 to more than 3 million per year." Studies that directly assessed the effect of defensive uses of guns "have found consistently lower injury rates among gun-using crime victims compared with victims who used other self-protective strategies."

Gun control supporters may note the report's finding that the rate of firearm-related homicide in the United States "is higher than that of any other industrialized country." But as Graham Noble wrote in a column in the Guardian Express, if "one were to exclude figures for Illinois, California, New Jersey and Washington, D.C., the homicide rate in the United States would be in line with any other country ..." Those locales, by the way, have some of the strictest gun control laws in the nation.

Real-world data suggests mental illness is a leading cause of firearm fatalities (suicides), that "assault weapons" are hardly a public menace, and that guns are routinely used defensively and produce safer outcomes for those targeted by criminals. But Obama ignores those facts.

Instead, The Great Divider clings to the political version of flat-earth theories that validate his liberal views, rather than face reality. Oklahomans looking at the same evidence have reached a different conclusion. Local gun sales and concealed-carry applications continue at a near-record pace. - The Oklahoman

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