With the NRA continuing to watch its corporate support crumble, it is struggling to provide responses to basic facts about the links between mass shootings and high-powered rifles.
The latest round of obfuscation came Sunday, when NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch tangled with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos.
In her appearance, Loesch repeatedly danced around Stephanopoulos’s point that, during the U.S.’s decade-long ban on assault weapons, both incidents and deaths due to the weapons dropped dramatically. As Stephanopoulos pointed out, research from the University of Massachusetts’ Louis Klarevas found that, from 1994-2004, there were only 12 incidents – about one per year – due to assault weapons, totaling some 89 deaths.
In the decade following, however, both numbers spiked. From 2004-2014, there were 34 incidents involving assault weapons – and over 300 deaths.
“Look at that right there,” Stephanopoulos said, pointing to the numbers. “We see the casualties go way up.”
But Loesch ignored the numbers, instead claiming that the ban “did not have much of an effect on the crime rate.”
At no point in the appearance did Loesch address the fact that the repeal of the weapons assault ban coincided with a tripling in the rate of both incidents and deaths from assault weapons. And Stephanopoulos, to his credit, wouldn’t let Loesch skate free.
“Excuse me for a second,” he said. “No one’s saying this is going to eliminate every single killing. But we do know that we’re the only country that has wide access to these kind of weapons, and no one else has the frequency or the intensity of these mass shootings than we do.”
Loesch, as it is, pointed out that France has seen a higher casualty rate from mass shootings than the U.S. over the past decade – due almost exclusively to the Bataclan terrorist attack.
However, she failed to address the rate of mass shootings overall. (Or the fact that the U.S. has a far, far higher rate of deaths from firearms than other developed countries.) In one study, a pair of researchers from Texas State University and State University of New York in Oswego found that, from 2000-2014, the U.S. had more mass shootings than 10 other developed nations combined – a list that included France. Even when adjusted for population, the U.S. is still higher than France.
More numbers also show just how much the tide of public opinion is turning against the NRA’s message. A CNN poll released Sunday showed a striking surge in support for increased gun control, with some 70 percent of those surveyed saying they favor increasing restrictions — the highest rate in 25 years. Perhaps most impressively, a majority of those in gun-owning households now support increasing restrictions for gun purchases — as do, at 49 percent, a plurality of Republicans. The rate of support is also nearly 30 points higher than it was in 2014, when only 44 percent of Americans backed increasing restrictions.
The poll found “57% who back a ban on the manufacture, sale and possession of rifles capable of semi-automatic fire, such as the AR-15,” up 8 points since October.