Rolling Stone’s Peter Wade has the latest in the growing body of documentation by national and international news outlets of the train-wreck spectacle that is Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado–this time making a long-debunked contention about gun safety that for local observers prompted a moment of deja vu:
In the wake of a mass shooting that left 10 people dead in her state, freshman Congresswoman Lauren Boebert brought some insensitive snark to an interview on the topic by suggesting hammers are more lethal than firearms.
“In America, we see more deaths by hand, fist, feet, even hammers, and, you know, are we going to start legislating that away or are we going to be like these other countries who even ban knives?” [Pols emphasis] Boebert said, “I mean, if hammers are the cause of more death than firearms, then maybe we need to start having background checks on hammers. I mean, look out, Black and Decker.”
This is of course not even remotely close to true:
According to the data platform Statista, annual deaths caused by firearms (handguns and other types) in 2019 numbered 9,649; annual deaths from personal weapons (hands, fists, feet, etc.) and blunt objects (clubs, hammers, etc.) numbered 997. That means guns killed 8,652 more people in 2019 than personal weapons and blunt objects combined.
And it occurred to us that we had heard this very same argument before: back in 2013 during the debate over that year’s landmark gun safety bills, as yet-undisgraced Sen. Randy Baumgardner said the exact same thing: “hammers kill more people than guns.” Slate looked at the origins of the claim that year and found that no one repeating this well-worn chestnut was basing their assertion on facts:
The oft-repeated claim that baseball bats and hammers kill more people than guns is the result of a 30-year-long telephone game. Beginning in the 1980s, many gun enthusiasts argued that logical consistency required extending any new gun restrictions to knives, baseball bats, and other household objects that could be used as murder weapons. When the Senate debated the Brady bill in 1992, Republican Bob Smith of New Hampshire wondered, “Should we ban baseball bats?” Other members insisted satirically that the Brady Bill’s waiting period must be extended to bats, knives, and automobiles.
Gun advocates soon added statistics to strengthen this line of argument. Responding to the proposed assault weapons ban in 1993, the Washington Times published an article stating that “baseball bats kill more people than AK-47s in at least one big city.” Columnist Mike Royko extended the argument slightly in 1994 after a ban on assault weapons was passed, writing that “there are all sorts of mundane or bizarre weapons used in more crimes than the weapons that Congress just voted to ban.” He included in his list baseball bats, cutlery, and feet.
And once again, for emphasis, none of it is true:
According to FBI data, 8,583 people were murdered with firearms in 2011. Only 496 people were killed by blunt objects, a category that includes not just hammers and baseball bats but crowbars, rocks, paving stones, statuettes, and electric guitars…Guns are, undeniably, the American murderer’s weapon of choice. The number of people murdered with firearms in 2011 was more than twice the number murdered by every other means combined, including fists, swords, poison, explosives, arson, and strangulation.
As we’ve said before, the sheer volume of Rep. Boebert’s demonstrably false and regularly offensive statements since coming to prominence obligates us to be selective about what we cover, lest our humble blog become entirely devoted to any one source of content however arresting. In this case, it’s notable that not only has this lie about hammers killing more people than guns been debunked for at least the last eight years, it’s been floated and disproven in Colorado politics.
Wouldn’t it be nice if these debunked falsehoods could stay debunked? That would be greatly preferable to every successive wave of Republican politicos regurgitating the same garbage every few years, obligating us to debunk it once again as if it were new. We should all be able to agree there are better things for us to be doing with our valuable time.