DANIEL VAUGHAN: Democrats are using scare tactics on guns to attack Brett Kavanaugh

August 31, 2018

While looking over the speaker list for Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s upcoming confirmation hearings, I noticed that Democrats had an entirely different strategy than Republicans for this meeting. Republicans are bringing in the biggest heavy-hitters in all the legal world to support Kavanaugh.

As for Democrats? One of their witnesses is one of the students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Once again, Democrats plan on using children to raise the specter of school shootings — this time, to attack Kavanaugh’s strong pro-Second Amendment record.

I don’t expect Kavanaugh to play the political games Democrats want to play. But I don’t mind bursting some fake news bubbles Democrats will undoubtedly bring up with the witness list they currently have set up.

For starters, why is a high school student giving testimony about Judge Kavanaugh? I sincerely doubt it’s because they’re an expert on law, the Second Amendment, or anything relating to the legal opinions Kavanaugh’s written.

The school shooting in Parkland was horrible, and I feel for everyone involved. But that doesn’t make them experts on Supreme Court nominees.

It’s a scare tactic designed by Democrats to drum up fear of more school shootings.

I know it’s a scare tactic because if you’re looking at the actual evidence, school shootings aren’t the common occurrence Democrats would have you believe. In the wake of Parkland, CNN and others spent their time lying about how many school shootings happened each year.

The reality of the situation, according to researchers: there is no epidemic of school shootings, children are safer in schools now than they were in the 1990s, and the overall murder rates in schools and society at large have collapsed over the last 25 years.

National Public Radio (NPR) took this one step further and decided to investigate every school district that reported a school shooting. For the 2015-2016 school year, the U.S. Department of Education claimed that 240 schools across the country reported at least one incident of a school-related shooting.

That seems like a large number, right?

But if you’re sitting there, scratching your head thinking, “I don’t remember 240 school shooting news stories in 2015 or 2016,” you’d be right to think that.

NPR’s journalists hit the ground and started contacting each one of those 240 schools to ask what happened. NPR found:

We were able to confirm just 11 reported incidents, either directly with schools or through media reports.

In 161 cases, schools or districts attested that no incident took place or couldn’t confirm one. In at least four cases, we found, something did happen, but it didn’t meet the government’s parameters for a shooting. About a quarter of schools didn’t respond to our inquiries.

In other words, official government statistics on school shootings are entirely false. Only 5 percent of all those reported incidents could be corroborated by school officials or media reports.

The Department of Education reported many other statistics in that report too — and if the error rates in those numbers are anything close to 95 percent, then that entire report is useless. The question wasn’t hard either; it was: “Has there been at least one incident at your school that involved a shooting (regardless of whether anyone was hurt)?”

Also worth noting, NPR compared the confirmed incidents from the government’s list with Everytown USA’s list of school shootings for that same year. Everytown says there were 29 incidents. NPR could only confirm eight claims from Everytown.

Combine NPR’s data with the research being done at universities saying that schools are safer now than in the 9’0s, and you get the fake and contrived controversy Democrats want to use to employ emotional impact.

Reacting to this same NPR story, David French at National Review wrote: “That is not a reason to ignore red flags or to blithely blow through warning signs in the assumption that everything will be alright. It is good reason for parents to send their kids to school without fear.”

He’s exactly right.

It’s also a good reason to ignore the emotional pleas of Democrats during Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings. They’re trying to make hay out of a problem they can’t prove.

The Parkland shooting happened; it was a tragedy. And there were multiple other tragedies before and have been many after Parkland.

They could bring in an armed guard like the one who stopped a school shooting from progressing when he stopped the shooter with a gun in 2013. Or like the mom who protected her daughter from a robber using a weapon earlier this year.

Instead, we’ll get treated to emotional and irrational arguments from Democratic senators trying to make Kavanaugh’s straightforward stance on the Second Amendment seem like mindless demagoguery. And when they’re done raising the “scary” topic of gun control, they’ll switch to some other fear mongering theme like originalism or abortion.

Democrats aren’t engaging Kavanaugh’s ideas or jurisprudence, only shadowy strawmen in their imaginations. That’s the sort of thing you do when you have nothing on a nominee, and you’re ideologically bankrupt.


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Daniel Vaughan

Daniel Vaughan is a columnist for the Conservative Institute and lawyer in Nashville, Tennessee. He has degrees from Middle Tennessee State University and Regent University School of Law. His work can be found on the Conservative Institute's website, or you can receive his columns and free weekly newsletter at The Beltway Outsiders. Connect with him on Twitter at @dvaughanCI.