Over the past two nights, viewers have been treated to 20 Democratic candidates for president —10 each night— jockeying for position on a number of national issues, including gun control. But did they give us the whole story?
On night one, Chuck Todd and Rachel Maddow opened the candidate questioning on gun control. Not all 10 candidates had the opportunity to answer a question.
Cory Booker, Senator from New Jersey, suggested that as president, he would ensure passage of a federal law requiring people to have a license to buy and own a gun. Booker claims that Connecticut passed a similar law that reduced firearm homicide by 40%.
Not so fast, says Robert VerBruggen. VerBruggen says that the “study” was based on statistical abstractions, and not actual reduction in crime in Connecticut. Additionally, if a candidate for President is going to talk about the upside of a policy, it’s an error of omission to not present both sides of the story.
Booker doesn’t mention the downside of having to wait for a gun license. Carol Bowne was murdered by her violent ex-boyfriend while waiting for her permit to purchase a gun. The process that was supposed to take 60-days, which is an eternity to a woman with a stalker, took too long. She was stabbed to death in her driveway.
Elizabeth Warren, Senator from Massachusetts, said that we should, “Double down on research and find out what really works.” If Senator Warren wanted to see what the research shows, she might look at the 2013 Centers for Disease Control study that concluded more than 500,000 citizens annually defend themselves or others with a firearm. Warren might also look at the research that reveals 96% of mass shootings happen in gun free zones.
Night two of the debate devoted even less time to gun control, as health care and climate change took center stage.
California Congressman Eric Swalwell —who gained national attention when he tweeted that gun owners should know that the government has nukes— suggests that the federal government ban and buy back all 15 million “assault rifles,” in the country.
Assuming that he means the AR-15, also known as a common sporting rifle, there is no evidence that the “Clinton Assault Weapons Ban” reduced crime at all. He also fails to say how he would enforce the buy back, for those AR-15 owners who aren't interested in “selling.”
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders said that 40,000 people a year are killed by gun violence. What he’s not telling you is that more than half of the number is suicide. Of course we should do all we can to prevent suicide, but Sanders isn’t telling the whole story.
That gun control wasn’t the most-discussed policy of the first debates lines up nicely with a Gallup Poll detailing that only 1% of respondents think gun control is the most important problem facing America. Even so, candidates for President of the United States should tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.