News & Politics

Right Wing Gun Nuts Manipulate Data, Falsely Claim Hammers and Clubs More Deadly

Too bad the meme has been totally debunked

This file photo shows shop employees arranging rifles for sale at a gun show in Manila, on July 15, 2010. There were 1.2 million registered firearms in the Philippines as of last year, according to data from the police firearms and explosives office.

In the wake of the horrific Newtown tragedy, pro-gun madness continues to multiply. The latest bit of manipulated data making the rounds among gun nuts arises from an extremely dubious claim on what other site but

Awr Hawkins looks at murder rates across the country anddeclares he's found the new weapon gun control advocates should try to ban: hammers. "For in looking at the FBI numbers from 2005 to 2011, the number of murders by hammers and clubs consistently exceeds the number of murders committed with a rifle."

How strange, you might think. Can this be true? Well, as "The Slog" notes in a neat little piece of debunking, that's because our friendly right-wing conspiracy lover is talking about rifles, and only rifles. Not handguns, shotguns or other kinds of weapons. "But of course, being a Breitbert writer, Hawkins blithely ignores the other 8,260 firearm-related homicides in 2011 attributed to shotguns, handguns, and other unidentified guns."

That makes our friend at one of the most tortured twisters of statistics I've ever encountered. Aquick look at the data reveals that  out of 12,664 total victims on the chart, 8,583 were killed by firearms. That's basically two-thirds, more than any other kind of weapon.

Yes, we live in a violent country and as the chart's documenting of all kinds of various grizzly murder methods indicated, some people are bad and will find the means to kill each other no matter what.

But it would be a lot harder to do it--and particularly to commut heinous mass murders--if certain weapons were harder to get.

That's all gun control advocates are saying. As the Slog's Sienna Madrid notes,

It seems fairly obvious to me that carpenter's tools build more houses than guns. It seems fairly obvious that someone armed with a hammer would have a hard time murdering 26 people in under 10 minutes. (Unless, of course, they were former Olympic sprinters. Perhaps Hawkins should update his article to villainize sprinters as well?)

It also seems fairly obvious that if you must rely on false equivalencies and incomplete data to argue that guns are essentially safe, you have no business entering a high school debate on gun control, let alone conversing with adults on the topic.

Amen. If we're going to have this discussion, let's not twist the facts.


Sarah Seltzer is a freelance writer based in New York City. Her work has been published at the Nation, the Christian Science Monitor, Jezebel and the Washington Post. Follow her on Twitter at @sarahmseltzer and find her work at

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