The Culture of Fear

By Chad D. Baus

These days, there seems to be little else for the gun ban lobby to do than to attempt to create an irrational fear of law-abiding citizens who chose to bear arms for self-defense.

The latest example, by Toby Hoover, who often appears to be a one-woman show at the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence, comes in the form of a press release shouting “OHIO’S KIDS AT RISK OF BEING SHOT”! Hoover’s hope is that a single negligent discharge during a history demonstration at a school (in which no one was hurt), and an unconfirmed report of a criminal bringing a gun into a Toledo school (no criminal nor gun, nor evidence of his presence were ever found) will somehow prompt Ohioans to want to “turn them all in”, as Sen. Diane Feinstein once put it of her gun ban plans for America. As the rhetoric grows wilder, and the desperation shows through all the more clearly…

From: Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence ([email protected])
Subject: rsvp and press release
Date: Thu, 26 May 2005

Press Release
May 26, 2005


(May 26, 2005, Toledo, OH): Once again, Ohio’s children were placed at risk because of America’s love affair with guns. This week in Ohio, a teacher in Kettering, Ohio mistakenly fired a .50 caliber weapon during a Civil War demonstration to students. The bullet landed 600 ft away where it pierced a trailer at the end of the football stadium. Luckily, no one was injured. Still, this incident serves as a reminder of a very simple truth—guns and kids don’t mix no matter how well-trained the person in possession of the gun may be.

But sadly this is not the only instance in which guns have invaded our schools. On Wednesday, Riverside Elementary school in Toledo went in to lock down after witnesses saw a man entering the building with at least two firearms. Fast action by Toledo police and the school personnel kept the children safe this time. Parents gathered outside the school panicked about their children’s safety.

“Everyone was concerned about the schools and the police doing their jobs, but they did them well. It’s the rest of us who have to take the responsibility for the guns in our society that enable this kind of event” said the Father Marty Donnelly, President of the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence.

Consider the facts: 40% of homes with children have guns, more than seven young people age 19 and under die due to gun-related violence every day, and two thirds of students in grades 6-12 say they could obtain a firearm in 24 hours.

There are an estimated 200 million guns in the United States, only when we wake up and decide guns can be and must be regulated will we reduce the risk to our children. “It is time we make our kids more important than our guns,” said Toby Hoover, Executive Director of the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence.

*** The Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence is a statewide organization advocating for the reduction and prevention of gun violence, in support of a culture of non-violence in our communities.

Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence
P.O. Box 1078 Toledo, OH 43697
[email protected]
phone 419.244.7442

If ever there were an example of what gun banners’ plans are for muzzle-loading black powder rifles, this press release is it. Instead of describing the firearm used by the Kettering student accurately, Hoover called the gun a “.50 caliber weapon”, no doubt hoping to evoke images of the center-fire bolt-action rifle her associates in California and Washington D.C are busy trying to vilify, instead of the hard-to-load 150-plus year-old design of a hunting firearm that was being used in this demonstration. As was recently made clear in America’s First Freedom magazine, once they get your .50 centerfire, it’ll be all .50’s, then all. 45s, then all .38s, etc.

As for her claims about the amount of risk our children are in today from guns, let's get to the truth (statistics from 1981 forward are from the National Center for Health Statistics, while those prior to 1981 are from the National Safety Council. Compiled by the NRA-ILA):

As Hoover noted, the number of privately owned guns in the U.S. is at an all-time high (and rises by about 4.5 million per year). What Hoover did not tell you, however, is that firearm accident deaths among children are at an all-time annual low.

In 2002, there were 60 firearm accident deaths among children in the United States. Today, the odds are more than a million to one against a child in the U.S. dying from a firearm accident. The firearm accident death rate is at an all-time annual low over all ages 0.26 per 100,000 population - down 92% since the all-time high in 1904.

Firearms are involved in 1% of deaths among children. Most accidental deaths among children involve, or are due to, motor vehicles (44%), suffocation (16%), drowning (16%), fires (9%), bicycles (2%), poisoning (2%), falls (2%), environmental factors (1%), and medical mistakes (1%).

Compare these facts to Hoover’s rhetoric, and you will realize that a more accurate headline for her press release would have been OHIO’S KIDS AT [LOWEST-EVER] RISK OF BEING SHOT. But telling this truth just wouldn’t get the results she wants, would it? So instead, Hoover does what the rest of her ilk are known to do - they fudge the numbers.

In her press release, Hoover claims that “more than seven young people age 19 and under die due to gun-related violence every day”. Sound familiar? It should. Brady Campaign president, Michael Barnes, and Senator Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) claimed that 12 children die from gun accidents every day. President Bill Clinton campaigned for so called "triggerlock" and "smart" gun laws, claiming that 13 children are killed with guns every day. Possible 2008 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton claimed, "Every day in America we lose 13 precious children to gun-related violence." The HELP Network put the figure at "an average of 9 children" daily. Other "gun control" advocates have varyingly claimed 14 per day (or 5,000 yearly or one every 90 seconds). Some count anyone under the age of 24 as a "child," to get even higher numbers. Hoover is counting 18 and 19-year-old adults to get her numbers.

Reality is that, on average, there is one firearm-related death among minors 17 and younger per day, including one accidental death every six days. Gun ban lobbists add the relatively small number of firearm related deaths among children to the much larger number of deaths among juveniles and young adults, and dishonestly call the total "children", all out of a desire to create a culture of fear. They hope to create fear not of criminals who have a proven track record of harming innocent people, but rather they want to create a fear of you, the law-abiding citizen who has chosen to bear arms for the protection of yourself and your loved ones.

Although they’ve been spreading baseless rhetoric like this for years, and had little or no challenge to their claims offered up by the media, there is increasing evidence that the honeymoon may be coming to an end.

Last week, Columbus’ The Other Paper published a story written by Kristen Convery. The headline says it all: “Conceal-carry hasn’t led to road-rage shootings”.

That’s right – one more newspaper in Ohio finally did a story on the anniversary of OhioCCW the correct way – by comparing the rhetoric of those who opposed it to the actual results.

From the story:

  1. Before lawmakers adopted a conceal-carry law in April 2004, toby Hoover fought hard to stop them. Hoover and her allies lobbied the legislature, wrote editorial-page letters and even filed an Ohio Supreme Court lawsuit in their efforts to keep the state from allowing people to tote hidden guns around.

    During the debate over the bill, some anti-gun folks feared drivers with hidden guns would be prime candidates to commit road-rage shootings. Meanwhile, officers wondered whether their safety would be compromised by heat-packing motorists during traffic stops.

    So, more than one year and 52,000 license to carry hidden guns later, how did allowing guns in cars change road safety?

    Apparently very little.

In 2001, Toby Hoover told the Cincinnati Post "A person who has a gun sees danger. We will have more shootings, more accidents."

After hearing Hoover testify against concealed carry in 2001, one Columbus Dispatch reporter summarized her testimony like this: "Gun-control advocates said it would put too many guns in malls, parks and workplaces, causing fights and accidental shootings."

After OhioCCW became law, Hoover was quoted in several Gannett News Service papers as saying, "If we have more use of guns, then we're going to have more people who are injured and die."

After noting the only road rage example Hoover could come up with was one in which the CHL-holder was able to defend himself against an attack on the highway, the story goes on to provide quotes from other people with egg on their face in the wake of the successful roll-out of this law.

  1. Police haven’t seen problems they can trace to the conceal-carry law either. Columbus police spokeswoman Sherry Mercurio said she has been watching for road-rage cases since the law took effect.

    “That concern was a justified concern,” Mercurio said – but, she noted, it also was wrong. “I’m not hearing of any cases.”

    “It was certainly something we wanted to monitor,” said Lt. Rick Zwayer, spokesman for the State Highway Patrol.

    But, he said, “We haven’t seen any evidence that there’s been a spike up in road-rage incidences (sic) as it relates to carry-conceal weapons.”

The story notes that despite the success, “Hoover said her worries are the same as they were than a year ago.”

As we enter the next phase of considerations of improvements to this law, legislators who will lobbied by Toby Hoover must ask themselves a very important question. Should I give my time, my attention, and my vote to a person is so completely unwilling to consider the facts, but instead clings ever so more tightly to her false beliefs? Should I listen to a person who is wrong on the facts concerning kids and guns, and wrong about her predictions about concealed carry? Do I really want to listen to a person who would rather try and convince me I should fear my law-abiding neighbor rather than a rapist, pedophile, robber, etc. etc?

If legislators are willing to ask that question of themselves honestly, Ohioans should have no problems getting concealed-carry law improvements passed in spite of the shrill whine of the gun ban lobby.

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