Kates and “Overt Mendacity”

In the Tennessee Law Review (v61 513-596 1994) Kates et al wrote:

the inventive Dr. Diane Schetky, and two equally inventive CDC
writers Gordon Smith and Henry Falk in a separate article actually
do provide purportedly supporting citations for the claim that
“[h]andguns account for only 20% of the firearms in use today, but
they are involved in the majority of both criminal and
unintentional firearm injuries.” [265] The problems with this claim
are that the claim is false in every respect and that the
citations are fabrications. The purpose of the claim is to
exaggerate the comparative risks of handguns vis-a-vis long guns
so as to fortify the cause of handgun prohibition and avoid
admitting the major problem we have already addressed that,
because handguns are innately far safer than long guns, if a
handgun ban caused defensive gun owners to keep loaded long guns
instead (as handgun ban advocates and experts concur would be the
case), thousands more might die in fatal gun accidents
annually. [266]

When pressed about his claim that Smith and Falk’s statement that
handguns were involved in the majority of criminal firearm injuries
was false, Kates wrote:

So far as I know, no statistics are available on the percentage of
injuries involving handgun versus long gun crime.

After some more discussion Kates conceded:

that handguns are probably involved in a majority of gun misuses
and a majority of criminal injuries inflicted with guns.”

In fact, while Smith and Falk gave an out-of-date figure for the
handgun percentage, their other claims were correct, and the overall
thrust of their statement was also correct — handguns are
disproportionately involved in gun accidents and crime.

None the less Kates continued to insist that Smith and Falk were
dishonest. He claimed this was because the reference they gave (to
the UCR) did not provide any data on gun ownership or gun accidents.
Kates claimed that if did not matter if their statement was correct,
that if the cite was incorrect Smith and Falk must be dishonest.
Ironically, Kates gave an incorrect cite in his passage but did not
decide that it was dishonest but rather claimed that it was a mistake.
It is puzzling why he refused to concede the Smith and Falk might also
have made a mistake.

Kates has revised his Tenn Law Review article to form a chapter in the
book “Armed: New Perspectives on Gun Control”. Here is the new
version of the paragraph I quoted above:

the inventive Dr. Diane Schetky, and two equally inventive CDC
writers, George Smith and Henry Falk, in a separate article
actually do provide purportedly supporting citations for her claim
that “handguns account for only 20 percent of the nation’s firearms
yet account for 90 percent of all firearms [mis]use, both criminal
and accidental.”[113] The problem is that the claim is false in
every part and the citations are fabrications.

The purpose of Schetky’s claim is to exaggerate the comparative
risks of handguns vis-a-vis long guns so as to fortify the cause
of handgun prohibition and avoid admitting the major problem we
have already addressed: that, because handguns are innately far
safer than long guns, if a handgun ban caused defensive gun owners
to keep loaded long guns instead (as handgun ban advocates and
experts concur would be the case), thousands more might die in
fatal gun accidents annually’

The main change that Kates has made in this passage is to remove Smith
and Falk’s statement “they are involved in the majority of both
criminal and unintentional firearm injuries”, which Kates was forced
to concede as being true, and replace it with Schetky’s incorrect
claim “account for 90 percent of all firearms [mis]use, both criminal
and accidental”.

This appears to be a deliberate attempt by Kates to mislead his
readers. I can’t see any other explanation for the alteration.
He does include Smith and Falk’s statement, but it is hidden in an
endnote and he somehow forgets to mention that it was true.