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Gun Advocate Stalzer: Police Break Law, Lack Honesty and Integrity

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.


  1. Owen 2015.03.01

    Our son is a cop and he doesn't blog and it takes a lot for him to post something political on Facebook. He sent me this Argus story and that tells me he was upset. Stalzer's statement saying concealed weapons carriers are more law-abiding than law enforcement officers offended him deeply and when he finds out the source that Stalzer used he'll really be mad.
    This kind of stupidity by the right wing is what causes problems. All over a falsehood that somebody has a RIGHT to carry a concealed a gun. The gun bills that have been floated in Pierre are the craziest thing that I've ever seen. All using the 2nd amendment as a shield. What a crock.
    I'm guessing Rep. Stalzer better set his cruise control on 75 mph and not a mph faster on I-90 when he heads home.

  2. mike from iowa 2015.03.01

    Allowing more people to carry guns hasn't proven to be the predicted bloodbath. I wonder how much of that statement is due to de-criminalizing murder through stand your ground laws? I don't think SYG deaths are even considered violent crimes stats.

    Wingnuts are famous for manipulating stats and numbers. iowa Guv Terry Braindead solved the problem of too many kids live in poverty in iowa by telling the wealthy to have more children. See how easy problem solving is using wingnut common sense?

  3. Jana 2015.03.01

    Outstanding work Cory! Thank you!

    If I'm the SDDP, I would capture this in a direct mail piece and remind people in his district that the shooter in Lennox has a conceal carry permit, in spite of his know mental illness.

    Asa matter of fact. The SDDP should be hammering out direct mail pieces now while the issues are hot that their GOP reps are giving the middle finger salute to the will of the people.

    If we had the time or transcripts, I'm sure we could send more and make sure that the cracker barrels were standing room only.

  4. Jake Cummings 2015.03.01

    Cory, one silver lining is that when people like Stalzer make ridiculous statements like this (based on shoddy research), we can demonstrate the value of our liberal arts education by critically examining and refuting their assertions. Maybe this is another reason why the right is prone to disparaging liberal arts and the social sciences.

    Owen, I would be very interested in learning Stalzer's record on law enforcement funding as well. I suspect he would be the type to either cut or advocate reduced law enforcement funding and then blame the police for the deleterious impact of those decisions.

  5. Jana 2015.03.01

    Jake, the problem is that Saltzer's comments aren't heard beyond the echo chamber of Pierre and those who read Cory's work published in the Madville Times.

  6. Jake Cummings 2015.03.01

    Jana, the Argus article will ensure at least some additional individuals are aware of this, as Owen's son was.

    Have any of you checked out the Crime Prevention Research Center's website ( recently? Dr. Lott claims that the SD House "overwhelmingly" passed the campus concealed carry bill 48-20. Errors like that do little to improve his research credibility.

  7. bearcreekbat 2015.03.01

    I apologize for continuing to link Salon articles, but here is a March 1, 2015, article by Heather Cox Richardson that seems right on point. The theme is that Governor Walker and current conservatives have consciously decided that facts can and should be misrepresented based on the higher principles of Christianity and economic independence from regulation.

    Richardson explains that beginning in the early 50's, William F. Buckley, Jr., wrote an essay deriding the value of factual reality and substituting two themes - Christianity and Economic Independence - in an effort to undermine governmental regulation of businesses. The idea was that by ignoring (or even misrepresenting) the factual truth and substituting these two ideals (which were thought to be accepted by most Americans) for the truth, Buckley and his cohorts could convince normal folks to support the dismantling of the regulatory systems.

    Wisconsin's Joe McCarthy picked up on the idea and gained undeserved fame and wealth by repeatedly exploiting the theme by falsely accusing people and groups of being anti-God (ie non-Christians) commies (ie economic regulators). McCarthy lied repeatedly in public, destroying people's lives and vocations. But by the time each lie was revealed he had moved on to another one, and the corrections were back page news.

    Ronald Reagan used the same technique - trash or lie about facts and argument, while again appealing to fundamental values of Christianity and individualism through factual lies and jingoism.

    Richardson's article is really interesting and might even contain enough historical analysis to help us figure out the means of making the truth relevant once again.

  8. Roger Cornelius 2015.03.01

    What is with these South Dakota Republicans and their blatant disregard for law enforcement.

    Last month the legislature gave strong consideration to concealed carry in the capitol by not trusting the Highway Patrol to protect them in the event of a shooting.

    Now we have this Saltzer peddling smut and continuing to respect law enforcement.

  9. Jake Cummings 2015.03.01

    I emailed Dr. Lott regarding the website error, and he indicated it has been corrected, so at least he has that going for him.

  10. mike from iowa 2015.03.01

    Ollie North and Fawn Hall-there are higher laws than the government.

  11. jerry 2015.03.01

    Bearcreekbat, I take issue with your bashing Ronald Reagan for being a liar. We all know him as being the greatest drug dealer ever! Far better than Pablo Escobar or any of the other lesser ones we have all heard of. No, you bash the greatest drug dealer of all, the godfather of coke man.

  12. bearcreekbat 2015.03.01

    mfi - wow what a great video. I had not seen that one before, but it sure made me laugh! Thanks!

  13. Richard Schriever 2015.03.01

    Corey - you're asking a Republican to respect scientific discipline?????

  14. Deb Geelsdottir 2015.03.01

    I've read the article BCB linked, and it's an important one. Many of us have watched that develop.

    I have always felt that the US would never accept any kind of coup like we've seen in other countries because we have such a strong history of democracy. But what the oligarchs have done is co-opt the Republican party as a front for their goals. What they've done seems even more despicable to me than a violent coup. They've attacked the very minds of the people. Those whose intelligence is lower, or fear is greater, or greed is overriding everything else, have been turned into their own enemies.

    Even before Constantine turned the nascent religion based on Jesus Christ, to his advantage, those lusting for power and wealth have bastardized religion for their purposes.

    All of this sickens me.

  15. Liberty Dick 2015.03.02

    There's no way of proving Stalzer right or wrong. The "thin blue line" mentality is rampant across the country. Police call themselves the "largest gang in America" and treat each other as such. In most cases cops don't write other cops traffic tickets and look over any misdemeanor type violations they can get away with. We will never know the true numbers.

  16. caheidelberger Post author | 2015.03.02

    Then Stalzer has no business citing numbers in this field to make his case for a policy change. He has the burden of proof; he can't satisfy it with reliable research. He owes South Dakota police an apology.

  17. Deb Geelsdottir 2015.03.02

    Yup. Walker is a little more brazen than most pro-ignorance wingnuts.

  18. Deb Geelsdottir 2015.03.03

    Well. SD has more guns per capita than any other state. 12.3. MN has 3.95. The national average is 4.8. I guess MN and the rest of the country feels safer and more secure than deep red SD with all those guns.

    That's all according to the Crime Prevention Resource Center.

  19. leslie 2015.03.03

    wow, again. maybe ann beal can comment.

Comments are closed.