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No, a baseball bat is not deadlier than a gun

�Tim West

�Tim West

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Updated: February 28, 2013 6:37AM

One of my favorite television commercials depicts a State Farm auto insurance adjustor using an app on a smart phone to lay out details of an auto accident.

When he tells the obligatory attractive female bystander what he is doing, she responds that State Farm really doesn’t have that feature.

He asks where she heard that and she replies “on the Internet” adding that everyone knows you can’t put anything that isn’t true on the Internet.

A minute later the woman’s date, a scruffy looking, poorly dressed overweight slob, comes up and she says she met him on the Internet and that “he’s a French model.”

The “French model” says “Bonjour,” which comes out sort of like “Bon Jewer” and they saunter away.

I enjoy the commercial so much because not only is it clever but it confirms the way I generally feel about the Internet — that very often you won’t find anything approaching the truth on websites.

To be sure, the Internet can be a great source of information, but with the changing of a few words in something that starts out factually accurate and with the multiplication and sending out of those words all over the world it can be a great source of misinformation as well.

With the current intense national interest in firearms one of the “truths” that is floating around on the Internet and is popping up in other locations such as newspaper letters to the editor is the supposed statistic from the FBI that more murders are carried out with “baseball bats” than they are with “guns.”

After seeing this one a few times, and finding my BS detector sounding each time I did, I decided to look it up on, where else, the Internet where I found that Googling words like baseball bat, gun, FBI, and so forth can be quite revealing.

However, when one goes to the genuine FBI stats for 2011, the latest year for which they are available and the ones most frequently misused by those who want to pretend that baseball bats are more lethal than firearms, shows a different story.

In the first place, baseball bats are not a category for the FBI, with the closest equivalent being “blunt objects,” which would include bats as well as clubs and hammers and whatever other heavy object can be grabbed and swung. In 2011, there were 496 murders in which blunt objects were used. And while it is true there were more blunt object murders as opposed to those with rifles (323) and shotguns (356), combined firearm slayings totaled a whopping 8,583 — with the vast majority being by handgun (6,220).

This means that firearms accounted for just under two-thirds of the weaponry used in the total 12,664 murders in this country in 2011 and were way, way ahead of the second place weapon of choice — knives or other cutting devices which accounted for 1,694 deaths.

The statistic that should give comfort to those who don’t want semi-automatic rifles banned is that rifles (of any kind) as a category came in even behind shotguns in their use for murders.

So it is obvious that those who want to truly make a dent in the number of murders by firearms instead of just posturing ought to be looking at handguns — a stance sure to rile gun owners far more than a semi-automatic weapon ban.

Bear in mind that the FBI statistics are only as good as the information that comes from our nation’s police departments, and the statistics include 1,587 firearm murders in which the type of gun was not reported.

But for practical bloodshed, aside from the fact that it can wipe out a lot of people quickly, the numbers suggest that the semi-automatic rifle with a large magazine may be the French model when compared to pistols.

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