Once Again, Hammers Do Not Kill More People Than Guns

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R).

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.

Respectfully submitted.

8 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Diogenesdemar says:

    The first time I recall having ever heard this idiotic Fluffyism was back when Moddy had his hand far up inside his Andrew Carnegie sock-puppet . . .

    Q-bie (and Moderatus both) might just be living proof that being repeatedly smacked up side the head, or even being repeatedly dropped on your head, may not always be necessarily fatal . . .

    (. . . although, admittedly, those have not been proven to do much of anything to improve the test subjects’ cognitive functioning.)

  2. JohnInDenver says:

    There are a number of claims made in the 1990s about deaths by all the other methods exceeded the number of people killed by the specialized set of weapons that were being considered — at that time, a relatively limited number of semi-automatic long guns. 

    Now, I would agree that SOME multiple deaths are carried out without semi-automatics, and a few happen by means other than guns.  But the numbers of people killed by explosives are even smaller, and we regulate and police those products pretty extensively. Virtually no one is killed by nuclear isotope poisoning, and that material is limited to an elite group of people.

  3. unnamed says:

    Maybe she only brought up hammers because she's dumber than a box of them.

     

  4. Voyageur says:

    Okay, there is a tiny grain of truth in this lie.  The numbers in this piece show guns killing more than blunt objects, etc., by a ratio of 10 to one.  But FBI reports have long shown than long guns of all kinds, including assault Rifles, account for less than 2 pct of gun deaths.  Ergo, hammers et al do kill less than assault rifles.

    So the fuck what?

    The real gun violence problem is the hand gun, easily concealed and carried.  I could save five times more 

     Lives by reducing handgun deaths by a tenth rather than eliminating all long guns totally.

    Twits like Boebert and the media both are fascinated by one tiny part of the problem.  Hand guns, not assault rifles, are the choice of murderers by a ratio of fifty to one.

    So if its first steps to sanity you want, universal background checks are far better than outlawing assault-style rifles.

     

     

  5. doremi says:

    In Colorado in 2019 (last year for which we have data), guns comprised 66% of gun homicides and 49% of suicides. 

    So if guns were the weapon for 66% of homicides, that leaves only 34% for the hammers, baseball bats, knives, rocks, bottles, etc. to divide.  She is way off.  Former Senator Marble used to use very specific data sharing the misinformation.  I wrote to her about that error, but, guess what, she did it again. 

  6. MichaelBowman says:

    Can you imagine #PewPew being part of a majority in Congress?  We wouldn't be having a single, adult conversation about anything important to the vast majority of Americans. 

    Enjoy your time in the spotlight Boebs.  You're destined for great things on NewsMax after the next election cycle. 

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