Last week I noted Rep. Jim Stalzer's (R-11/Sioux Falls) insult to college students in defense of his dying guns-on-campus bill on the House floor. Evidently, Rep. Stalzer insulted cops, too:
Mike Walsh, South Dakota’s president of the Fraternal Order of Police, said Rep. Jim Stalzer’s, R-Sioux Falls, comment that concealed weapons carriers are more law-abiding than law enforcement officers was “irresponsible” and “disturbing.”
...Walsh said he challenges any legislator to find a state with fewer law enforcement members who have been discharged from duty or charged with a crime.
Walsh said that during a hearing for House Bill 1206, which would have authorized the concealed carry of pistols on public university campuses under certain circumstances, Stalzer said that calling 911 was like calling “dial a prayer”.
“My first thought was that it’s unprofessional to make statements like that to begin with and to base it on something other than actual real data is irresponsible,” Walsh said. “He’s making comments about law enforcement that are completely unjustified. I think law enforcement in South Dakota deserves an apology from him” [Mark Walker, "Police Group Wants Apology from State Lawmaker," that Sioux Falls paper, 2015.02.25].
Let me check: if students are mad at Stalzer, and if police are mad at Stalzer, it should be pretty easy to beat Stalzer in 2016, right? And Stalzer should be backpedaling, right?
Stalzer, reached by phone Wednesday, said he will not apologize for his comments. He said his argument was based a report from the Crime Prevention Research Center.
“My intention was not to slam police officers, but rather to compare the honesty and integrity of concealed and carry permit holder to police officers,” Stalzer said. “Unless the report is proven false, I don’t think I have anything to apologize for” [Walker, 2015.02.25].
Rep. Stalzer, you pretty much said it all at "I don't think." If a legislator shoots his mouth off with so little regard for his targets, maybe we should hesitate to let him carry a gun.
Also not needing to apologize will be any District 11 candidate who takes out ads against Stalzer saying, "Stalzer says police lack honesty and integrity." Or heck, just shorten that to "Stalzer hates cops." Unless that statement is proven false, you don't have anything to apologize for.
For the record, here is the offending portion of Rep. Stalzer's February 19 floor speech:
This is "Concealed Permit Holders Across the United States" by the Crime Prevention Research Center which was founded by Dr. John Lott. In Florida they have issued 2.6 million permits over 25 years, and tey've had to rescind 168 of them for some kind of a firearms violation. But it's getting better. From January 2008 to May of 2014 they've only had to rvoke four permits out of the almost 900,000 that are currently in effect. Actually in Florida police officers have more firearms violations than concealed carry permit holders.
In Texas there are over 600,000 permits and they've had 120 where there was a conviction of a misdemeanor or a felony, very few of which involved firearms. And with all due respect to our colleague who is a police officer, the crime rate for police officers is higher than the crime rate for concealed carry permit holders.
[Booing is heard in background; Stalzer laughs nervously].
In Texas it's six times higher, and in Florida it's ten times higher. I do not believe our colleague falls in that category [Rep. Jim Stalzer, remarks on House Bill 1206, South Dakota House, 2015.02.19, timestamp 44:23].
The report Stalzer cites comes from gun advocate John Lott, a "perpetual misinformation machine" for the gun lobby. He was exposed over a decade ago as having based a major pro-gun study on error and fraud, but that hasn't stopped the NRA and gun nuts like Rep. Stalzer from providing a market for Lott's product. Media Matters neatly and linkily dismisses Lott's research:
Lott's research on gun issues, including his famous "more guns, less crime" theory, has been discredited in academic circles and he has faced credible accusations of data manipulation and fabrication. He often twists statistics on gun violence in order to advance a pro-gun agenda [links in original; Timothy Johnson, "NRA-Friendly Washington Times Turns To Discredited Gun Researcher John Lott," Media Matters, 2014.10.10].
Another article notes that Lott himself, writing under a pseudonym, once contended that we should completely dismiss the arguments of an academic who engaged in the above behavior. That article then applies that same standard to Lott:
Time and time again Lott has abused his academic credentials to peddle falsehoods. Instead of soberly presenting evidence, and letting the research speak for itself, Lott instead authored his own fan-base, fabricated evidence, manipulated models, mischaracterized data, and then attempted to bulldoze anybody that dared question the authenticity of his research. This is not the behavior of someone who is interested in truth-seeking; it is the behavior of an ideologue who is concerned only with making his opinions as loud and virulent as possible [Evan DeFilippis and Devin Hughes, "Shooting Down the Gun Lobby's Favorite 'Academic': A Lott of Lies," Armed with Reason, 2014.12.01].
You ready to apologize yet, Rep. Stalzer?
The report itself looks like another exercise in cherry-picking. Lott cites Florida concealed weapons permit revocation rates for firearms violations. That's far from the overall crime rate. That's not even the full list of crimes that could provoke revocation of a concealed weapons permit, like domestic abuse or possession of controlled substances.
Lott also cherry-picks dates, looking at Florida police firearms violations from 2005 to 2007 while peddling the concealed weapons permit revocation numbers from 1987 to 2014 and emphasizing those numbers from 2008 to 2014. You can't draw conclusions from differing crime rates over different populations in different eras to guide policy right now.
Comparing firearms violations among police and civilians also seems prone to a fatal statistical flaw. Suppose we were looking at nail gun violations (if there were such a thing). I imagine we would find more nail gun violations (accidental discharge, improperly stowing the device or its ammunition) among carpenters, who carry and use nail guns every day for work, than we would among weekend warriors who have nail guns in their garage but only use them for occasional home improvement projects. Ditto for comparing armed police and concealed weapons permit holders: police have their guns every day, every hour on duty. Concealed weapons permit holders do not train as much and do not carry and handle their weapons as frequently and as openly as police officers.
And like our legislators, forgetful or rebellious concealed weapons permit holders sneak their weapons into gun-free zones unnoticed on a regular basis, but those violations won't appear in Lott's warped statistics or any others.
Interestingly, when the question turns from concealed weapons permits to racism, Lott musters his mathematical legerdemain to dismiss as distortions accusations that police improperly use their weapons. Lott alternately defends and attacks police, as it suits his political agenda. Lott's "reports" should be taken as political propaganda, not as reliable scientific research.
Rep. Jim Stalzer should apologize for disguising his attack on the honesty and integrity on South Dakota's police as objective research. The lack of honesty and integrity is Rep. Stalzer's, and citizens of all stripes (police, students, etc.) should work to remove him from office.