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News & Editorials

When Grabbers Murder Logic
VPC’s Newest Study Piles Fallacy Atop Fallacy.

by Sean Oberle


Violence Policy Center Oct. 26 recycled one of its annual scare sheets: “When Men Murder Women”. (See

The premise of this, ahem, “study” is to determine whether guns make women more or less safe. The conclusion – surprise! – is that “for women in America, guns are not used to save lives, but to take them.”

While we’re all familiar with the half-truths, twisted facts, logical fallacies and outright lies of the gun grabber propaganda machines, rarely have I seen so much hogwash packed into so few words. Upon reading it, I actually had to sit back, take a deep breath and decide if I really wanted to go through the trouble of untangling the awful mess. 

I suppose the best place to start is where VPC starts. It claims that the “gun lobby” depicts attacks upon women as typically coming from solitary strangers. “As a result,” write VPC, “images of a woman armed with a handgun fending off an attacker abound in gun publications.” 

VPC’s proof that this is the case? It provides three photos – with neither credit nor context. The humorous part is that in only one of the photos is an armed woman fending off anyone. In the other two, the woman is unarmed. In one case, she has her back to a man with a revolver, and in the other, the same woman holds her hands up in shock at seeing the armed man. 

But even if VPC had picked photos that actually showed what it said they showed, the pictures still would be nothing but sparks at the end of a magician’s wand to distract people from a sleight of hand.

That sleight of hand is a straw man argument, which is the illogical tactic of arguing against something that no one actually says because it is easier to tear down than are any positions that someone really holds.

While it is true that the idea of being attacked by strangers is involved in discussion of women owning guns – it is absurd to suggest, as VPC does, that gun marketers focus solely or mostly on solitary strangers. Proponents of female gun ownership give plenty of, even primary, attention to the dangers women face from estranged husbands and boyfriends or from casual acquaintances who become obsessed stalkers.

So why does VPC attack this false notion that gun marketers focus almost exclusively on attacks from solitary strangers? It wants to analyze “only those instances involving one female homicide victim and one male offender.”

By limiting the comparison to lone males attacking lone females, VPC can point out that 60% involve – not attacks from strangers – but attacks from husbands and intimate acquaintances, which include common-law husbands, ex-husbands and boyfriends. 

Plus, VPC says, a woman is 12-times more likely to die at the hands of male she knows than a stranger. But I assume that males she knows include professional, social and casual acquaintances, which I suppose include weirdo stalkers whom she’s met but never made it to the husband or intimate acquaintance category.

Then, noting that 54% of female homicide victims die of gunshot, VPC pretends victory – most murdered women know their murderers, and a slight majority die of gunshot.

This trollop proves nothing, of course, except perhaps that gun marketers use unrealistic scenarios in magazine ads, and that is true only if you concede that VPC’s portrayal of those ads is accurate, which I don’t concede – indeed, all of the photos that VPC provides could portray estranged husbands or obsessed office mates just as much as deranged strangers.

But do you see why the whole stranger vs. acquaintance thing is a straw man? It’s because the accuracy of the ads has nothing to do with whether guns provide more risk than benefit. There is no mutual exclusivity between ad scenario accuracy and gun benefit. It is perfectly possible that the ads could show unrealistic scenarios, but that guns still could provide more benefit than risk.

Benefit and risk – that’s what VPC ought to look at if it wants to show that guns hold more risk for women than benefit. I know – that’s a revolutionary concept: look at benefit and risk if you want to assess benefit and risk.

Does VPC do this? No.

All it does is break down a subset of female homicides (lone males killing lone females) into further subsets – stranger vs. acquaintance. But these sub-subsets – alone or combined – cannot be used as the gun risk side of a comparison because VPC doesn’t exclude non-gun homicides. 

Furthermore, since these deaths are but a subset, VPC excludes all gun attacks from more than one person, and it excludes all gun attacks against groups. It also excludes all non-homicidal attacks with guns, no matter the number of people or their relationships.

Then, to top all that off, VPC doesn’t really compare anything. Rather, it asserts a premise that guns are not used much to stop crime, referencing in a footnote a 1994 Justice Department figure that there are about 80,000 annual instances self-defense gun use reported to law enforcement agencies.


Yep, that’s where the works of Gary Kleck and John Lott come in – figuring out the number of self-defense gun uses beyond the reported number. But I’m not even going bother putting Kleck’s and Lott’s numbers against VPC’s.

Why? VPC doesn’t even pull women out from the DOJ figure. Many of the 80,000 don’t involve women. This figure is useless in assessing women’s risks vs. benefits.

In any event, VPC’s goal is to show that guns don’t save many lives. It asserts this DOJ figure as a premise that guns don’t save many lives. Its conclusion is its premise. That’s circular logic. VPC’s whole “study” falls on that fallacy alone.

Sean Oberle is a featured writer with whose archive is kept here:  Distribution permitted and encouraged. Please say you saw it first on


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