One of the regular Polsters around here, "The realist," brings our attention to a gun rights debate at the University of Denver two weeks ago. The discussion is a reminder that some of our elected officials are, uh, less smart than others. Take Senator Randy Baumgardner, for example, who gleefully used the newest gun lover talking point du jour: "hammers kill more people than guns."
Elected officials often get handed talking points that they use without much thought to accuracy, but this nonsense about hammers is inexcusable. Not only is this talking point easily refutable, it's not even potentially believable; if you stop to think about this for, oh, two seconds, you'd quickly conclude that it can't be possible for hammers to cause more death than guns. But if that doesn't work for you, here's Salon's explanation (originally posted in early January):
Breitbart.com added some numbers to the assault hammer crisis, reporting last week that more people are killed every year with hammers than with rifles. Indeed, according to FBI’s online homicide database, 611 people were killed with “blunt objects” (including hammers and clubs) in 2009, compared to just 348 with “rifles.” This, Breitbart argues, shows that “Democrats’ feverish push to ban many different rifles” is bogus. The meme took off in the conservative blogosphere and quickly hit all the most prestigious sites: Fox Nation, World Net Daily (the birther one), Alex Jones’ site (the weirdly paranoid one), and even the John Birch Society’s magazine (the other weirdly paranoid one). Even CBS News wrote up the stat — without crediting Breitbart (or vice versa, it’s unclear which story was posted first)…
…Now, while rifles account for only a few hundred homicides every year, guns overall are responsible for many, many more murders — almost all of them. If you add up all the other methods used to kill people in 2011 (fire, drowning, poison, strangling, hammers, etc.), you get 4,081 non-gun homicides. That’s fewer than half of the 8,583 gun homicides. Guns killed more than 17 times more people than hammers and are responsible for nearly 70 percent of total murders. There’s a reason you don’t hear about mass hammering sprees. [Pols emphasis].
With the debate on guns still raging in the legislature, we would remind the likes of Sen. Baumgardner and others that if the statistic sounds ridiculous, there's usually a reason for that.