The Many Sandy Hook Mistakes of The New York Times

-By Warner Todd Huston

As we mentioned early on December 15, the Old Media have done a poor job relating the facts about the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newton, Connecticut. Finally, some four days after the crime occurred, The New York Times is issuing corrections on a multitude of garbled reports.

Some of the corrections are updating the sort of “facts” that most of Old Media establishment got wrong; such as who the shooter actually was and whether or not the killer’s mother worked at the school. But many of the “facts” that The Times had to correct don’t even stand the test of logic.

For instance, The Times originally reported that the guns being used were .10 and a .9 millimeter guns. This would be about the size of a pencil lead! Of course what the paper of record really meant to say is that 10 and 9 millimeter sized bullets were used, not a .10 and .9.

In another case The Times misquoted New York Governor Michael Bloomberg. And so, the correction reads,

An article on Monday about President Obama’s remarks at a memorial service in Newtown, Conn., for shooting victims quoted incorrectly from comments by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York, who criticized Mr. Obama for inaction on gun control. Mr. Bloomberg, appearing on the NBC program Meet the Press, said that if Mr. Obama “does nothing during his second term something like 48,000 Americans will be killed with illegal guns.” He did not say that is the number that would be killed in the next year.

What Bloomberg actually said was that 48,000 Americans would be killed over the next four years, or “during [Obama’s] second term,” not in the next year.

But, even here Bloomberg is simply incorrect in all particulars. John Hinderacker corrects the record.

But Bloomberg’s statement, quoted correctly, is wrong. FBI statistics indicate that in 2010, there were 8,775 homicides using firearms, not 12,000, and the number is steadily dropping. Moreover, that is the total number of homicides that involve all guns, not “illegal guns.” There are very few illegal guns–i.e., guns which it is illegal to sell–in the United States.


So when Bloomberg said on Meet the Press that “48,000 Americans will be killed with illegal guns,” he both got the number wrong and gratuitously inserted the reference to “illegal” guns. I have seen no data on the number of homicides involving guns that are possessed illegally.

Hinderacker also points out that murder is down and so is misuse of rifles generally.

The rifle is commonly, if meaninglessly, referred to as an “assault weapon.” But homicides using rifles of any sort are rare, as well as declining. In 2010 there were only 358 homicides involving rifles, compared with 1,704 in which knives were used, 540 that involved blunt objects, and 745 in which the victims were simply beaten to death. So the idea that there is some kind of epidemic of violence involving semiautomatic rifles, or any other sort of rifle, is nonsense.

The Old Media continue to misuse many words and concepts about firearms as it reports on the crime at Sandy Hook Elementary. The term “assault weapon” is a meaningless phrase, but the over use of the descriptive language is used solely to support an anti-gun agenda. The word “clips” is also continually misused. Rifle clips do not hold dozens of rounds. Magazines do, but “clips” do not.

The Old Media is not done making apologies for misleading consumers of the news, certainly. But in much of its reporting, there is a purposeful effort to mislead. It is doubtful any apologies will be in the offing for that.

Finally, it is useful to mention that the American law enforcement community recently reported that murders of policemen is down 20 percent since last year. Also, U.S. violent crime is down for the fifth straight year.
“The only end of writing is to enable the reader better to enjoy life, or better to endure it.”
–Samuel Johnson

Warner Todd Huston is a Chicago based freelance writer. He has been writing opinion editorials and social criticism since early 2001 and before that he wrote articles on U.S. history for several small American magazines. His political columns are featured on many websites such as Andrew Breitbart’s,, and, as well as,,,,, among many, many others. Mr. Huston is also endlessly amused that one of his articles formed the basis of an article in Germany’s Der Spiegel Magazine in 2008.

For a full bio, please CLICK HERE.

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