Mike Bloomberg is running two misleading gun control ads during the Super Bowl. One ad focuses on the 2007 Trolley Square Mall shooting in Salt Lake City, Utah where five people were killed. The other ad greatly misstates the number of children killed by firearms each year, while also overlooking the true cause of these deaths.
Each 60 second ad apparently costs about $10 million. But that's only a fraction of the $248 million that the ten-week-old campaign has spent on campaign ads.
In one ad, Kait Hinckley talks about how the Trolley Square shooter killed her 15-year-old sister and permanently disabled her mother. But like 94 percent of all successful mass public shootings, the attack occurred in a gun-free zone. The Trolley Square Mall contained clearly-posted signs that prohibited people from carrying permitted concealed handguns.
Fortunately, an off-duty police officer was carrying his gun. He did so in violation of the posted signs.
Ken Hammond, an off-duty officer from Ogden, Utah, was on a different floor and at the opposite end of the mall. It took him three minutes to arrive at the scene, at which point he cornered the gunman and exchanged fire until other officers arrived. "There is no question that his quick actions saved the lives of numerous other people," Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank said.
Incredibly, Hammond endured lengthy hearings and had to pay hefty legal fees. His career as an officer was on the line. While Hammond eventually kept his job, his ordeal is likely to make others think twice now about ignoring gun-free zone prohibitions.
Unlike Bloomberg, the Trolley Square Mall learned its lesson and took down the gun-free zone signs after the attack. If only someone had been even closer to the attack, then perhaps Hinckley’s sister and mother might have been protected,
In December, a concealed handgun permit holder was able to stop an attack even more quickly at the West Freeway Church of Christ near Fort Worth. But Bloomberg was dismissive: “It may be true that someone in the congregation had his own gun and killed the person who murdered two other people. But it’s the job of law enforcement to have guns and to decide when to shoot. You just do not want the average citizen carrying a gun in a crowded place.”
In recent years, civilians have stopped dozens of such attacks in churches, businesses, movie theaters, restaurants, and malls. The only exceptional aspect of the West Freeway case was that the permit holder’s actions actually garnered some national attention, unlike the vast majority of these heroic acts. None of the problems that Bloomberg seems to fear -- permit holders shooting bystanders or being shot by arriving police -- occurred in any of those cases.
A second Bloomberg ad is another emotional one-minute spot in which Calandrian Simpson Kemp recalls her son's death from a gunshot. No details are provided on that particular case, such as whether it was a gang shooting. The ad, however, is emblazoned with the claim: "2,900 CHILDREN DIE FROM GUN VIOLENCE EVERY YEAR."
Unfortunately, Bloomberg’s ad doesn’t provide a source for this claim. From 2013 to 2017 — the most recent five years for which data are available — total murders, suicides and accidental deaths of non-adults averaged 1,900 per year. This is not an insignificant number, but Bloomberg’s figure is off by a thousand deaths a year.
The overwhelming majority of non-adult murders involving drug gangs, and nearly all of the victims are teenagers. Drug dealers are the primary source of illegal guns. Since they can’t go to the police for help in their turf wars, gangs need firearms to protect their valuable property.
If you could click your fingers and make all illegal drugs and guns vanish from the United States, it wouldn’t be long before drugs and guns start pouring back into the country. Even banning guns wouldn’t stop this any more than banning illegal drugs have stopped them. If you doubt that look at Mexico, which has had only one gun store in the country since 1972 and less than one percent of adults legally own a gun. Mexico’s murder rate is now twice as high as in 1972 and 6 times higher than what we have in the United States.
Suicides aren’t quite as common as murders for those under 18 years of age, but what Bloomberg ignores is all the research showing if guns aren’t available, people use other just as effective methods to commit suicide.
Bloomberg’s emotional arguments might sell well, but they won’t make people safer. When you heavily regulate gun ownership, only the criminals end up being armed. That makes it easier for criminals to harm law-abiding citizens.