By: Dorian de Wind, CNN
(CNN) — Gun control advocates shouldn’t brag about being afraid of firearms or exercising reasonable care when handling them. Doing so can create ammunition backlash — a defense strategy in a two-sided swordfight.
Ahead of the May 19 big government gun forum hosted by Vice President Joe Biden and a host of other officials, with a prime-time address by President Barack Obama later in the evening, The Washington Post issued an op-ed by Adam Winkler, author of “Gunfight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America.”
The Post is making the case that a “field survey” by the New York City’s Police Department of 10,829 firearms seized since 1984 reports that 82% of the time, people who possessed firearms without a license — even if it was “law-abiding” as defined by federal law — were unable to demonstrate a legal justification for why they held the weapon.
And 77% of those who possessed illegal guns without a license were able to demonstrate a legal rationale.
Winkler says gun owners “almost always argue that they had the guns legally, but that they were in danger. If you are going to own a gun, you should be prepared to concede that you are unlikely to be disarmed.”
A Washington Times opinion piece by Richard Feldman, a senior lobbyist for the Independent Firearm Owners Association, says Winkler’s research (which was conducted jointly with the Washington Post’s editorial staff) is based on a flawed decision-making process that has ignored or downplayed controversial issues.
“The conclusion that people can ignore or suppress lawful gun-ownership is not an analysis, but a pretense designed to fool the reader into thinking the study has produced some sort of paradigm shift,” Feldman writes.
A former firearms instructor, he says Winkler’s analysis — which is based on the NYPD’s index — is biased.
“You shouldn’t be worried if you have a 9 mm or a .22, he writes. “You’re not alone. The people under the sniper position will be most likely carrying a 9 mm or a .22. In some cases, it will be a .22.”
The Pro-Gun-Interest group the 2nd Amendment Foundation also dismissed the police survey. The survey found that the 8.6% of firearms owners with felony convictions can’t find an owner for their “crime,” according to the association.
Michele Asher, spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania State Police, also questioned the study’s claims. She said the Police Department survey covered only 50 of the state’s 67 counties, and their underlying assumptions about false claims based on an otherwise lawful gun possessors’ status can be questioned.
“A person who may possess a lawfully owned gun but not have the right to own the gun is not automatically disarmed,” Asher said. “And a person who is not a person who possesses a lawfully owned gun can bring his or her legally owned handgun into a residence, even if he or she is legally prohibited from doing so by law.”
That means, she said, “if a felon is possessed unlawfully, that felon can actually use the firearm in a way which would make them disarmed.”
Asher’s comments come on the heels of the weekly gun violence meeting that Biden convened with entertainment industry executives, show creators and law enforcement leaders. Biden and his team are weighing policies that would prevent people with mental problems from buying or possessing guns.
On Monday, Biden met for an hour and 45 minutes with the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists to discuss how the entertainment industry could help with gun violence prevention efforts. The trade group represents actors and entertainers such as Johnny Depp, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Kerry Washington.
Asked about the meeting, SAG-AFTRA general counsel Duncan Crabtree-Ireland said: “We presented the vice president with feedback on our commitment to educational outreach efforts within the industry, and we discussed actors’ involvement with the upcoming June 7 march in Washington, and a healthy dialogue about the need for greater awareness, and violence prevention initiatives.”