- - Saturday, August 1, 2020

Would Scientific American ever pay an NRA employee to write news articles about gun control? Never. But they and many other media outlets have no problem using articles written by people who work for Michael Bloomberg’s gun control organizations. 

The Trace, which has made a business out of attacking people who received money from the conservative or self-defense organizations, sees no irony in being an organization that was set up and funded by Michael Bloomberg’s nonprofit advocacy organization Everytown for Gun Safety. 

Yet, the media hide The Trace’s financial support from Mr. Bloomberg. NPR describes them as “an independent, nonprofit journalism organization dedicated to covering issues related to guns in America.” A senior editor that I corresponded with at Scientific American, Josh Fischman, saw no conflict with one of their editors and frequent writer on gun control issues, Melinda Wenner Moyer, as a regular paid contributor for The Trace. No warning is necessary for readers to let them determine if there is conflict of interest.

During July, The Trace had an article by Ms. Moyer arguing that the increase in gun sales over the last few months was linked to the recent increased shootings in cities. She makes no mention that possibly politicians’ orders for police to stand down, disbanding of police units, restrictions on how police could deal with rioters, or even the huge release in release of prisoners from jails and prisons might have something to do with the sudden surge. Instead, gun sales that might increase the stock of guns by a couple percent are being blamed. 

In another article, she claims that guns don’t keep your family safer. But there is no mention of any of the research, such as my peer-reviewed studies, showing the opposite of The Trace’s agenda.

The question is whether Mr. Bloomberg is a strongly interested party in the gun control debate and whether his nonprofit, The Trace, follows the same views as his other nonprofits such as Everytown. News media outlets such as The Atlantic, Slate, New York Daily news, Newsweek, Politico, the Chicago Sun-Times and the New Yorker see no biases created by partnering with The Trace to write news articles.

You won’t find any difference between what Mr. Bloomberg’s Everytown puts out and what The Trace writes. Indeed, a search through the last several years of The Trace’s articles doesn’t show a single article that approvingly discusses the research by anyone who has found a benefit from people owning guns.

But that’s not for lack of pro-gun research. The largest survey of academics who have published peer-reviewed empirical research on gun violence (murders, suicides, accidental discharges, etc.), which I conducted with Arthur Berg of Harvard and Gary Mauser of Simon Fraser University, showed that criminologists and economists are generally very skeptical of gun control. Public health researchers were much more divided. On the issue of concealed handguns (there are several dozen peer-reviewed papers), and more than two-thirds find a benefit from people carrying those guns.

Other articles during July attacked the NRA and other groups supporting self-defense, but you won’t find a single critical article ever against Mom’s Demand Action, Everytown, The Brady Campaign or any other gun-control group. One article criticizes “The NRA’s Unshakable Support for Police,” tying the NRA’s support to the “reliable” donations that the NRA gets from police. 

The Trace, like other gun-control groups, dislikes the police because officers are so overwhelmingly pro-private gun ownership. They advocate for disarming police claiming that American police kill more civilians than “the rate of law enforcement in nations where officers work unarmed.” Their headlines in July attacking police officers include: “An Arkansas Cop Said He’d Shoot at Protesters. Then He Killed a Fellow Cop” and “The ‘Warrior Cop’ Is a Toxic Mentality. And a Lucrative Industry.”

For an organization that is obsessed with the biases created by people receiving money from other interested parties, the media don’t seem to apply that same standard to Michael Bloomberg’s The Trace. Unlike The Trace, I wouldn’t argue that the money bribes people to support causes that they otherwise wouldn’t support. After all, in their mind the only way people could support evil gun ownership is if they are being paid to do so. Instead, the concern is that Mr. Bloomberg only gives money to people who he is certain have the same views that he does.

As I show in my new book, “Gun Control Myths,” the money Mr. Bloomberg spends on gun-control organizations such as The Trace and campaign donations are just part of the money that he spends pushing gun control.

The Trace and other Bloomberg organizations can’t believe that people could support evil gun ownership without being paid to do so. Maybe they can ask the politicians that Mr. Bloomberg supports a similar question. In any case, if The Trace actually read some pro-gun academic research, they would understand that people have good reasons to believe in the power of self-defense. 

• John R. Lott Jr. is the president of the Crime Prevention Research Center and the author of the newly released “Gun Control Myths.”

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