In the maelstrom of information and disinformation being distributed today, people often simply believe what they are told, because it's so difficult to verify all the facts and figures that are out there.
Longtime television journalist John Stossel decided to do some of that heavy lifting when he researched New York gun laws, as he reported in an op-ed piece (with cited sources) for TownHall.com. Stossel goes into detail about some of the more pervasive false statistics and conclusions populating recent media coverage of gun rights and gun ownership issues.
As a New York resident, he calls out his home state for its strict and often hypocritical gun laws, specifically the incident from earlier this year where an anti-gun group set up a fake gun shop in New York City.
"Police refused to assign me a gun permit. The law doesn't even let me hold a fake gun on TV to demonstrate something. But New York politicians are so eager to vilify gun ownership that they granted an exception to the anti-gun group States United to Prevent Gun Violence," Stossel writes. "New York allowed States United to set up a fake gun store, where cameras filmed potential gun customers being spoofed by an actor pretending to be a gun-seller."
Stossel talked to John Lott of the Crime Prevention Research Center to give him some answers. He asks specifically about a States United ad, which used footage from its fake gun shop and stats from a recent Pew Poll, to say that "Over 60 percent of Americans think owning a gun will make them safer. In fact, owning a gun increases the risk of homicide, suicide, and unintentional death."
Lott says that's a plain lie, and that gun-control advocates lie all the time.
"Every place in the world that's tried to ban guns…has seen big increases in murder rates. You'd think at least one time, some place, when they banned guns, murder rates would go down. But that hasn't been the case," Lott says.
Stossel then asked him about the presence of guns contributing to suicides.
"There are lots of different ways for people to commit suicide," Lott said. "We find that people commit suicide in other ways if they don't have guns." http://townhall.com/columnists/johnstossel/2015/08/05/gun-lies-n2034647
What about "unintentional death" or "accidents" as they're commonly known?
Lott says there are about 500 accidental deaths from firearms a year. "That sounds bad, but about 400 Americans are killed by overdosing on acetaminophen (Tylenol) each year (most of them suicides), and almost as many Americans drown in swimming pools," Stossel writes.
"It would be nice if it was zero, (but) consider that 120 million Americans own guns," Lott says.
Stossel goes on to say that many of those guns are used to prevent crime, often in situations where a potential victim brandishes a gun and an attacker flees. He says nobody knows how often this happens, because those incidents are not reported to the government.