“People seem to have this really, really evil impression of an AR-15…” Fox News’ Sean Hannity said in a recent interview with gun advocate, Sarah Merkle. Yes, Sean, people tend to have unpleasant opinions about a weapon recently used to kill 20 elementary school children. I know, it’s crazy.
Sarah Merkle is the latest viral internet sensation to grace the screens of everything from Youtube to Fox News and likely even your Facebook feed (which is where I first discovered the 15 year old gun advocate).
Merkle testified before Maryland lawmakers last month against the state’s proposed gun control legislation, the Firearm Safety Act of 2013.
I have seen pro gun groups literally drool over this testimony, some claiming it “smokes gun control arguments.” The high standard for journalistic integrity, The Daily Sheeple, even weighed in on the subject declaring Merkle’s testimony “demolishes gun control arguments.”
Does her argument do all these things? Yes, if you ignore facts and live in a bubble.
“Purging our society of violence and murder cannot be done through gun control legislation.” I can’t name a single supporter of gun control reform, from President Obama to Senator Dianne Feinstein to Maryland Governor O’Malley, that has claimed gun control legislation will be the one-stop solution that will rid our society of violence.
Merkle continues her testimony, jumping straight into the NRA scare tactics. “By signing this legislation you are not signing away gun violence, but instead liberating American citizens of our constitutional rights.” There is not a single provision in the Maryland legislation that is unconstitutional.
She goes on to explain that even though Chicago has some of the strictest gun control laws, they also have an incredibly high rate of gun violence. However, she omits one major detail.
A large number of Chicago’s seized guns were purchased outside of the city limits (58% from out of state), specifically to avoid the city’s gun control regulations. Chicago is actually a prime example of why we need national reform, not less.
“I’d also like to point out, that none of the guns used in the Chicago shootings were registered or licensed to the people who used them. Thus, even further proving that simply restricting guns will not stop criminals from using them.” This one is a twofer.
Illinois doesn’t require registration, and remember that I just mentioned that large number of weapons purchased from outside the city? Harold Pollack, Co-Director of the University of Chicago’s Crime Lab has explained that “an impressive fraction of seized crime guns” have been traced back to a single gun store across the city line. Interesting fact: Illinois does not regulate or license gun dealers or require background checks on private sales made outside of a gun show.
After discussing the terrifying incident involving the stabbing of 22 children in China, which occurred on the same day as the Sandy Hook shooting, Merkle reaches this conclusion: “Guns are not needed for mass murder and robbing American citizens of our rights to own them won’t solve anything.”
Merkle’s presentation of the China incident clearly implies that 22 children lost their lives, which is false. Not a single child died during or after the stabbing attack. However, 20 children did die after the gun-attributed Sandy Hook tragedy.
What was Merkle fighting against in Maryland? Let’s take a look at what the new legislation offers:
- Ban 45 semiautomatic firearms as assault weapons
- Limit magazines to 10 rounds
- License-to-purchase requirement (exception for hunting rifles and shotguns)
- Prohibits people who have been involuntarily committed to a mental health facility from possessing a firearm
Merkle’s opinion against new gun control measures is among the minority of the state’s population. A state-based poll found that 62% of voters favor an assault weapons ban, while 72% support a ten round limit on magazines.
Since Merkle’s testimony, the legislation has passed through the Maryland House and Senate. It is currently on its way to the Governor.
A truly disappointing aspect to all this is how the media has chosen to cover it. While ABC News’ headline proudly proclaims: “Teen Girl’s Pro-Gun Video Gets 2.3 Million Hits,” provides the video for your viewing pleasure and even quotes Merkle in the article… it doesn’t correct her.
You won’t find a rebuttal to any of Merkle’s outrageous claims. There is no mention that the state’s gun control legislation does not feature a retroactive provision (Hey! You get to keep that AR-15! Chin up!), or that it in no way violates the Constitution.
Not only does Sarah Merkle have a long ways to go in educating herself on the issue of gun control, so do factions of the media.