Our opinion: Faulty data skews gun-control pitch

Democrats in the state Legislature are at it again.

State Rep. Emily Kinkead, D-Pittsburgh, and state Sen. Art Haywood, D-Philadelphia, are sponsoring bills in the state House and Senate respectively to require Pennsylvanians who wish to purchase firearms first apply for and secure a permit from a law enforcement agency.

We are skeptical that this proposal complies with the Supreme Court’s decisions — including one decided just this summer about New York state’s onorous and frequently arbitrary permit requirements — that protect the right of Americans to keep and to bear arms.

We are even more skeptical it complies with the state’s Constitution, which leaves even less ambiguity about the right of Pennsylvanians to arm themselves.

And in voicing our skepticism we must also note that Kinkead is advocating for the law using specious data.

As political reporter Bradley Vasoli detailed, a claim by Gov. Tom Wolf echoed by Kinkead that Pennsylvania sees a mass shooting “every 10 days” relies on an uncommon definition of mass shooting, under which about two-thirds of the “mass shootings” are incidents without a single fatality.

Twenty-three shootings combined without one death.

Kinkead also echoed an argument by Haywood that Missouri saw its gun-related killings increase after a similar law was repealed in 2007.

But what neither Kinkead or Haywood acknowledged and what Vasoli and Second Amendment rights advocate John R. Lott noted in examining this claim is that while gun-related killings increased 17 percent in a five-year stretch after the repeal, they were already increasing before the repeal. In fact, before the repeal they had increased by nearly 30 percent.

When considering legislation that affects a deeply cherished right of our region, we need legislators that respect our U.S. and state constitutions. We also need legislators that respect all the facts and not cherry-picked numbers or contorted definitions.


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