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More Like a Quarter-of-a-Million Moms

Monday, May 15, 2000

In a partisan demonstration that according to the Washington Times has been described by critics as "a slickly produced media event bankrolled by Democrats," about half a million men, women and children jammed the National Mall in front of the U.S. Capitol and listened to celebrities and overwhelmingly Democrat politicians demand more gun control legislation.

Emphasizing the partisan tone of the demonstration, New York Democrat senatorial candidate Hillary Clinton kicked off the rally at a White House reception by telling guests:

"We’ve come here in the names of the children we love, the children we have lost, the children we want to save.”

Organized by Donna Dees-Thomases, a publicist on leave from CBS News and the sister-in-law of Hillary's great pal Susan Thomases, speakers emphasized the fact that the march was meant to kick off a nationwide election year campaign to defeat pro self-defense members of Congress, which Democrats hope will help them regain control of Congress.

"I hope we can get the power that is here today and harness it to start an organization," talk-show host Rosie O’Donnell, who emceed the program and later told the Washington Post:

"Thirty thousand people are shot dead every year and we have had enough. The NRA is buying votes with blood money. We vote. Are you listening, Congress, senators? We vote, and we’ll be watching you," O’Donnell said.

Joining O’Donnell were a gaggle of celebrities including singers Roseanne Cash, Emmylou Harris and Melissa Etheridge, actress Susan Sarandon and rocker/actress Courtney Love.

The marcher organizers are demanding that Congress pass uniform handgun control laws that include licensing and registration, longer waiting periods and a one-gun-a-month purchase limit. They repeat the claim, denied by researchers, that 12 children die from gun violence each day.

Virginia Hayes Williams, the mother of D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams, told the crowd, "Twelve children [dying] is too many. Let's work to get guns registered."

"Gun accidents involving children are actually at record lows, although you wouldn't know it from listening to the mainstream media," wrote the Cato Institute’s David Lampo.

"In 1997, the last year for which data are available, only 142 children under 15 years of age died in gun accidents, and the total number of gun-related deaths for this age group was 642. More children die each year in accidents involving bikes, space heaters or drownings. The often repeated claim that 12 children per day die from gun violence includes "children" up to 20 years of age, the great majority of whom are young adult males who die in gang-related violence," Lampo explained.

About 1,000 pro self-defense demonstrators calling themselves the "Second Amendment Sisters — Armed Informed Mothers" met on the Mall a few blocks away from the Million Mom rally.

They say that new controls on handguns would only give criminals the advantage and that firearm ownership is an important part of self-defense in a high-crime society. The members, whose organization is not connected to the National Rifle Association, insist that better parenting is the key to curbing violence.

"Every individual should have the right to defend themselves," said Bill Carter of Arlington, Va.

"Every person has the right to protect themselves," he told the Washington Times, which reported that similar pro-gun rallies took place in 14 states Sunday.

Earlier, Cato’s Lampo described the event as "designed to stir up emotions rather than promote rational thought. And when one looks at the facts about gun control, it's easy to see why the anti-gun lobby relies on emotion rather than logic to make its case."

"The number of well-publicized public shootings during the past few years, especially the tragedy at Columbine High School, has re-energized the gun control movement," he noted, adding that if one’s only source of information about gun control is the mainstream media, "what you think you know may not be correct."

Lampo went on to address many of the arguments later made by speakers at the Million Mom event:

1. Thousands of children die annually in gun accidents.

"False. Gun accidents involving children are actually at record lows, although you wouldn't know it from listening to the mainstream media. In 1997, the last year for which data are available, only 142 children under 15 years of age died in gun accidents, and the total number of gun-related deaths for this age group was 642. More children die each year in accidents involving bikes, space heaters or drownings. The often repeated claim that 12 children per day die from gun violence includes "children" up to 20 years of age, the great majority of whom are young adult males who die in gang-related violence."

2. Gun shows are responsible for a large number of firearms falling into the hands of criminals.

"False. Contrary to President Clinton's claims, there is no 'gun show loophole.' All commercial arms dealers at gun shows must run background checks, and the only people exempt from them are the small number of non-commercial sellers. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, at most 2 percent of guns used by criminals are purchased at gun shows, and most of those were purchased legally by people who passed background checks."

3. The tragedy at Columbine High School a year ago illustrates the deficiencies of current gun control laws. "False. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold violated close to 20 firearms laws in amassing their cache of weapons (not to mention the law against murder), so it seems rather dubious to argue that additional laws might have prevented this tragedy. The two shotguns and rifle used by Harris and Klebold were purchased by a girlfriend who would have passed a background check, and the TEC-9 handgun used by them was already illegal."

4. States that allow registered citizens to carry concealed weapons have lower crime rates than those that don't.

"True. The 31 states that have "shall issue" laws allowing private citizens to carry concealed weapons have, on average, a 24 percent lower violent crime rate, a 19 percent lower murder rate and a 39 percent lower robbery rate than states that forbid concealed weapons. In fact, the nine states with the lowest violent crime rates are all right-to-carry states. Remarkably, guns are used for self-defense more than 2 million times a year, three to five times the estimated number of violent crimes committed with guns."

5. Waiting periods lower crime rates.

"False. Numerous studies have been conducted on the effects of waiting periods, both before and after the federal Brady Bill was passed in 1993. Those studies consistently show that there is no correlation between waiting periods and murder or robbery rates. Florida State University professor Gary Kleck analyzed data from every U.S. city with a population over 100,000 and found that waiting periods had no statistically significant effect. Even University of Maryland anti-gun researcher David McDowell found that 'waiting periods have no influence on either gun homicides or gun suicides.'"

6. Lower murder rates in foreign countries prove that gun control works.

"False. This is one of the favorite arguments of gun control proponents, and yet the facts show that there is simply no correlation between gun control laws and murder or suicide rates across a wide spectrum of nations and cultures. In Israel and Switzerland, for example, a license to possess guns is available on demand to every law-abiding adult, and guns are easily obtainable in both nations. Both countries also allow widespread carrying of concealed firearms, and yet, admits Dr. Arthur Kellerman, one of the foremost medical advocates of gun control, Switzerland and Israel 'have rates of homicide that are low despite rates of home firearm ownership that are at least as high as those in the United States.' A comparison of crime rates within Europe reveals no correlation between access to guns and crime.

"The basic premise of the gun control movement, that easy access to guns causes higher crime, is contradicted by the facts, by history and by reason. Let's hope more people are catching on," Lampo concluded.

For additional information on the 1/4 Million Mom March
see the Gunnery Network article:

"What the Moms say they want,
what a Gun Guy says it really means."

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