Cox Publishing newspapers at it again: Columnist regurgitates anti-gun statistics in attack on concealed carry

By Gerard Valentino

"If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it."
- Joseph Goebbels, Reichsminister of Propaganda in Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945

A recent op-ed written by Dayton Daily News columnist Martin Gottlieb, and entitled "In wake of conceal/carry, new stats worth a look," tries to paint Ohio's concealed handgun license-holders as one breath away from going on a killing spree. As usual with the establishment media, Gottlieb's Daily News article (which was republished in other Cox Publishing-owned papers in Ohio, including the Hamilton Journal-News and Lebanon Western-Star) uses arguments based on the same tired anti-gun themes, with a dose of deception to make his case.

The op-ed is peppered with dubious "facts," while making statements that are supposed to show he is open to both sides of the argument. But, anyone looking at the piece objectively can see how Mr. Gottlieb tries to paint all license holders with the same brush.

Like a magician, he uses a few sleight of hand tricks to bury admissions that license holders really aren't a risk to public safety under the weight of anecdotal evidence that he claims proves otherwise. It's easy to see through his ruse, however.

By pointing out the bad actions of a few criminals, Gottlieb is planting the seed that anyone with a license is a risk to public safety. What he fails to do, however, is bring up a single issue that hasn't already been discredited in the debate over concealed carry laws.

His own words, and willingness to use lies of omission, are enough to show that Mr. Gottlieb had a premise, and then set about finding facts to fit.

He cleverly creates the impression that license holders in Ohio have killed 98 people by throwing that statistic in with others that pertain to Ohio. Clearly, he is hoping readers will assume that the number of people supposedly killed by license holders statewide is much higher than it is.

The problem with his argument is objective statistics just don't prove there is a public safety issue caused by allowing people to carry concealed handguns. That leaves Mr. Gottlieb to use guilt by association and innuendo to prove his point.

A perfect example of using omission to create the impression that concealed carry laws are a threat to public safety is his argument that nobody keeps statistics about how many license holders are convicted of crimes. It's a nearly perfect ruse because technically the statement is true - in Ohio. Other states, most notably Texas, do a great job of keeping records of how many license holders commit crimes, and all it takes is a check of the Texas Department of Public Safety to find that information. That is unless part of his premise is that Ohioans are somehow more bloodthirsty than Texans.

But, also conveniently left out of Mr. Gottlieb's editorial is the fact that Ohio's Attorney General website keeps a tally of license revocations statewide. Although it doesn't include the reason a license is no longer valid, if the number of revocations was big enough, it would be proof that the system isn't working.

Overall, less than one half of one percent of licenses have been revoked for any reason - a staggeringly small number which is at the fingertips of any journalist willing to properly research the issue.

Mr. Gottlieb never mentions it because the number shows that the system is working and that license-holders are truly honest law-abiding citizens. Clearly, such an assertion doesn't match his preconceived premise about the evils of legal concealed carry.

Adding to the claim that the premise was created before the research was done is that every meaningful statistic used in the article (like an unsigned editorial published in several Cox Publishing newspapers a few weeks ago) was gleaned from the Violence Policy Center. As most of us know, the VPC rabidly hates private ownership of firearms, and has faked statistics in the past to prove guns are a public safety risk.

Using a discredited organization to make the case against guns is lazy journalism. It shows a lack of initiative, and a willingness to let an advocacy group do the work required of a professional journalist.

Sadly, we've seen this before in the debate leading up to the passage of legal concealed carry in Ohio, when nearly every editorial board in the state spoke out against letting private citizens carry guns. As concealed carry became the law of the land without the predicted mayhem, most have simply kept quiet about the issue.

Now that they have a few cases of bad actions by concealed handgun license-holders, however, the anti-gun rhetoric in the establishment media has increased. In particular, they are again claiming that Ohioans are more bloodthirsty and gun crazy than citizens of other states – an absurd notion.

Still, the anti-gun movement feels empowered by recent cases where license holders allegedly broke the law.

Luckily, they are easy to predict and will continue to make the same ridiculous claims they trotted out in the debate prior to legal concealed carry becoming the law of the land in Ohio.

We can't get complacent because they use bad statistics and poor arguments in the battle over gun-rights. It wasn't that long ago that they were successful in creating the impression that there was a huge groundswell of support for gun control. Ironically, Mr. Gottlieb tries to claim the sophisticated gun lobby is doing the same, and has tricked legislators into believing gun owners demanded legal concealed carry in Ohio.

Since the inception of legal concealed carry in 2004, nearly 170,000 Ohioans have received a license, and 2009 is going to be a record year for applicants. Plus, 70% of license holders are going through the hassle of getting their license renewed as well.

Remember that in the last three presidential elections, Ohio was carried by a margin less than the total number of licensees statewide. So, despite Mr. Gottlieb's assertion, there is in fact a huge level of support for legal concealed carry.

The sad fact is people of Mr. Gottlieb's misguided ilk will continue to try and sway public opinion by using lies of omission, bad statistics and outright deception, so we must remain vigilant in our battle to protect our gun-rights. Otherwise, you can bet the anti-gun movement will rise again.

Gerard Valentino is the Buckeye Firearms Foundation Treasurer, and his new book The Valentino Chronicles is now available in the Buckeye Firearms Store. A portion of the proceeds from each sale helps fund the Foundation's current lawsuits against the City of Cleveland and the City of Chicago.

UPDATE: A Letter to the Editor responding to the Gottlieb article was published in the Dec. 31, 2009 edition of the Dayton Daily News:

On basis of funding, anti-gun group not so small

Re "New stat worth look post conceal/carry," Dec. 18: While more than 160,000 Ohioans have concealed handgun licenses, less than one-half of one percent of those licensed have been revoked for any reason.

Martin Gottlieb made reference to Toby Hoover's Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence as "a small operation based in Toledo." Contrary to the platform the Ohio media gives Ms. Hoover, the OCAGV isn't heavily supported by, and doesn't speak for, most Ohioans, so the word "small" would certainly be accurate in terms of describing the anti-gun organization’s grassroots support.

However, if Gottlieb was genuine about examining how "sophisticated political interest groups" are able to prop up false public impressions, perhaps he should consider the not-so-small bankroll enjoyed by the OCAGV.

In fact, Hoover's group has cashed in on nearly $750,000 in grants from the anti-gun Joyce Foundation (of which Barack Obama was once a board member) in the first half of this decade, making it anything but a "small operation."

Yet despite its bloated funding, the OCAGV continues to suffer legislative loss after legislative loss.

Meanwhile, all-volunteer grassroots groups like the Buckeye Firearms Association continue to make significant headway on much less, thanks mostly to small, one-time donations and the hard, hard work of dedicated supporters.

Chad D. Baus

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