10/07/2012

Politifact Texas: black women: "fastest-growing demographic group in...Texas seeking concealed handgun licenses."

Sue Owen with the Austin American-Statesman evaluated a claim by Republican state representative Stefani Carter on permit holders.  Before going into the specifics, let me say that I was impressed that Ms. Owen went the extra mile to evaluate the claim.
You might be surprised to learn who cares about the Second Amendment, lawmaker Stefani Carter suggested in a recent USA Today opinion article.
"What is the fastest-growing demographic group in my state of Texas seeking concealed handgun licenses? Black women," wrote Carter, a Dallas Republican running for re-election to the Texas House, in the Aug. 30, 2012, piece.
We decided to check out who’s taking advantage lately of Texas’ concealed-handgun law, which since January 1996 has allowed permit holders to carry such guns in most public places while excluding others, such as churches. . . . 
Our ruling
Carter claims black women are the fastest-growing group of permit-seekers.
We accept her explanation that she meant to refer to permits issued each year. And her statement fairly captures available data and research.
However, the lack of information on Hispanic permit recipients makes it impossible to conclude which Texas subgroups are getting permits most often.
We rate the statement as Half True.
I looked at other "Half True" evaluations, and it seems that Politifact is being tougher on Representative Carter than on those other cases.  Take for example the post on Gail Collins saying that the Texas GOP opposes public schools teaching "critical thinking."  While it is true that the GOP used that term, if one read the entire sentence, Collins' inference is clearly false and Collins must have read that sentence in writing her piece.  I just don't see the similarity between Ms. Collins' deliberate misinterpretation of a statement and Rep. Carter accurately reporting what an academic had found and even double-checking those numbers herself with the Texas DPS.  There is a level of distortion in Collins' writing that is simply not there for Carter.

I would have given Carter a higher rating than the "Half True" that Politifact gave her since there is no evidence that other breakdowns would have produced alternative results.  Given that black females exceed all other well defined groups it is pretty unlikely, though not impossible, that Hispanic females would have exceeded black females.  Hispanics are included as either white or black and not separately broken out.

In any case, even if Politifact believed that the evaluation should have included other possible demographic breakdowns that weren't reported by the Texas Department of Public Safety, I would have placed at least some of the blame on the original academic evaluation that Representative Carter relied on. At the very least, if Politifact were to be fair, it should criticize both the original academic reference and the DPS as much as Rep. Carter since their information is also in the public domain.  The legal/academic website that she relied has a large circulation.

I have other graphs on this issue available here.

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