shooting blanks: 10 pro-gun arguments, shot down

Posted: February 1, 2013 in gun policy, politics

Hits and Myths


By cutting off federal funding for research and stymieing data collection and sharing, the National Rifle Association has tried to do to the study of gun violence what climate deniers have done to the science of global warming. No wonder: When it comes to hard numbers, some of the gun lobby’s favorite arguments are full of holes.

gun ownershipMyth #1: They’re coming for your guns.
Fact-check: No one knows the exact number of guns in America, but it’s clear there’s no practical way to round them all up (never mind that no one in Washington is proposing this). Yet if you fantasize about rifle-toting citizens facing down the government, you’ll rest easy knowing that America’s roughly 80 million gun owners already have the feds and cops outgunned by a factor of 79 to 1.  (And, AGAIN, no one is trying to take your guns!  We’re talking about simple things…like requiring background checks!)
Sources: Congressional Research Service (PDF), Small Arms Survey

Myth #2: Guns don’t kill people—people kill people.ownership vs gun death
 People with more guns tend to kill more people—with guns. The states with the highest gun ownership rates have a gun murder rate 114% higher than those with the lowest gun ownership rates. Also, gun death rates tend to be higher in states with higher rates of gun ownership. Gun death rates are generally lower in states with restrictions such as assault-weapons bans or safe-storage requirements.  Sources: PediatricsCenters for Disease Control and Prevention

Myth #3: An armed society is a polite society.
Fact-check: Drivers who carry guns are 44% more likely than unarmed drivers to make obscene gestures at other motorists, and 77% more likely to follow them aggressively.
• Among Texans convicted of serious crimes, those with concealed-handgun licenses were sentenced for threatening someone with a firearm 4.8 times more than those without.
• In states with Stand Your Ground and other laws making it easier to shoot in self-defense, those policies have been linked to a 7 to 10% increase in homicides.

Myth #4: More good guys with guns can stop rampaging bad guys.
Mass shooting stopped by armed civilians in the past 30 years:   zero
Chances that a shooting at an ER involved guns taken from guards:  1 in 5

Myth #5: Keeping a gun at home makes you safer.
Fact-check: Owning a gun has been linked to higher risks of homicidesuicide, and accidental death by gun.
• For every time a gun is used in self-defense in the home, there are 7 assaults or murders, 11 suicide attempts, and 4 accidents involving guns in or around a home.
• 43% of homes with guns and kids have at least one unlocked firearm.
• In one experiment, one third of 8-to-12-year-old boyswho found a handgun pulled the trigger.

factcheckMyth #6: Carrying a gun for self-defense makes you safer.
Fact-check: In 2011, nearly 10 times more people were shot and killed in arguments than by civilians trying to stop a crime.
• In one survey, nearly 1% of Americans reported using guns to defend themselves or their property. However, a closer look at their claims found that more than 50% involved using guns in an aggressive manner, such as escalating an argument.
• A Philadelphia study found that the odds of an assault victim being shot were 4.5 times greater if he carried a gun. His odds of being killed were 4.2 times greater.

Myth #7: Guns make women safer.
Fact-check: In 2010, nearly 6 times more women were shot by husbands, boyfriends, and ex-partners than murdered by male strangers.
• A woman’s chances of being killed by her abuser increase more than 7 times if he has access to a gun.
• One study found that women in states with higher gun ownership rates were 4.9 timesmore likely to be murdered by a gun that women in states with lower gun ownership rates.

Myth #8: “Vicious, violent video games” deserve more blame than guns.
Fact-check: So said NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre after Newtown. So what’s up with Japan?

United States Japan
Per capita spending
on video games
$44 $55
Civilian firearms
per 100 people
88 0.6
Gun homicides
in 2008
11,030 11

Sources: PricewaterhouseCoopersSmall Arms Survey (PDF), UN Office on Drugs and Crime

Myth #9: More and more Americans are becoming gun owners. 
Fact-check: More guns are being sold, but they’re owned by a shrinking portion of the population.
• About 50% of Americans said they had a gun in their homes in 1973. Today, about 45% say they do. Overall, 35% of Americans personally own a gun.
• Around 80% of gun owners are men. On average they own 7.9 guns each.

Myth #10: We don’t need more gun laws—we just need to enforce the ones we have.fact check2
 Weak laws and loopholes backed by the gun lobby make it easier to get guns illegally.
• Around 40% of all legal gun sales involve private sellers and don’t require background checks. 40% of prison inmates who used guns in their crimes got them this way.
• An investigation found 62% of online gun sellers were willing to sell to buyers who said they couldn’t pass a background check.
• 20% of licensed California gun dealers agreed to sell handguns to researchers posing as illegal “straw” buyers.
• The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives has not had a permanent directorfor 6 years, due to an NRA-backed requirement that the Senate approve nominees.

  1. Joni says:

    eh…. I don’t know. I can’t get on-board with hard core gun control. But then, I also can’t get on-board with outlawing drugs. So…

    • nash says:

      Hey Joni! But here’s the thing…no one is really advocating hard core gun control. We’re talking common sense things like requiring background checks!

      • Joni says:

        I’m ok with requiring background checks… although it seems a bit pointless to me, considering that the bad guys will still get guns regardless of whether we add background checks to the list of things required to get a gun. LOL

      • Jeffrey says:

        Of course you don’t know of any black seiral killers, your not looking at references to find them, and it’s not a politically correct news story, which means little coverage.You are a racist, and you need to learn how to use Google, before making stupid comments. Here are just a few. They were easy to find.Matthew Emanuel Macon (Murdered and Raped 5 White Women in Lansing)Shelly Brooks (Murdered 7 prostitutes in Detroit Cass Corridor)Jervon Miguel Coleman (Murdered three people.)Brian Ranard Davis (6 women)Paul Durousseau (Seven women)Mark Goudeau “The Baseline Killer” (Eight women and a man in 2005-2006)Coral Eugene Watts (11 women in Texas & 1 in Michigan)Anthony McKnight (Five girls and young women)Derrick Todd Lee (8 Women)Charles Lendelle Carter (4 known murders)The Zebra Killings (71 White people)Chester Turner (L.A.s most prolific killer 12 women killed.)Lorenzo J. Gilyard (Kansas City, MO.—13 victims)Eugene Victor Britt (Gary, IN.–3 known murder/rapes.)Henry Louis Wallace (Raped and strangled 5 women to death.)Craig Price (Brutally murdered 3 women)Harrison Graham (Brually Murdered 3 women)John Allen Muhammad & Lee Boyd Malvo (Sniped 11 people from a car in DC, 9 died.)George Russell (3 women, WA state)Timothy W. Spencer (5 killed, Arlington, VA and Richmond, VA)Elton M. Jackson (12 gay men killed, Norfolk, VA area)Carlton Gary (3 killed in Columbus, GA)Mohammed Adam Omar (16 women, Yemen. Omar is Sudanese.)Kendall Francois (8 women, Poughkeepsie, NY and surrounding areas.)Terry A. Blair (8 women, Kansas City area)Wayne Williams (33 many of them children!, Atlanta, GA)Vaughn Greenwood (11 killed in LA)Andre Crawford (10 killed in Chicago – southside)Calvin Jackson (9 killed possibley more in NY)Gregory Klepper (killed 8, Chicago – southside)Alton Coleman (Killed 8 in the Midwest)Harrison Graham (killed 7+ in N. Philadelphia)Cleophus Prince (6 killed in, San DiegoRobert Rozier (7 killed in, Miami)Maurice Byrd (killed 20 + in St. Louis)Maury Travis (17 and rising, St. Louis and possibly also Atlanta)Hulon Mitchell, a.k.a. Yahweh Ben Yahweh (killed 20+ in Florida)Lorenzo Fayne (killed 5 children in East St. Louis, IL)Paul Durousseau, (killed 6, two of which were pregnant women, Jacksonville, FL; Georgia.)Eddie Lee Mosley (killed 25 to 30 women, south Florida)Henry Lee Jones (killed 4 in, south Florida; Bartlett, TN)Richard “Babyface” Jameswhite (15 killed in, New York; Georgia.)Donald E. Younge, Jr. (killed 4), East St. Louis, IL; Salt Lake City, UT.Ivan Hill (killed 6 in Los Angeles area).Michael Vernon (Bronx, NY. Killed at least seven people – )Chester Dewayne Turner (12 women killed in, Los Angeles)

      • Sadia says:

        1. All guns must have a serial nbmuer, and a copy of the # must be embedded inside the metal of the gun too so scratching it off won’t make it impossible to identify the gun.2. Handguns must be test fired once by the manufacturer and the bullet stored to create a database of ballistics profiles.3. Guns must be purchased with a $10,000 insurance policy that will be paid to any unjustified victim of the gun. Should the policy have to be paid out (say your kid takes the gun and injurs the neighbors kids), the owner either has to trash the gun or buy a new policy for $100,000 of coverage.4. Gun sales and transfers will go thru dealers via instant background checks. The insurance policy goes with the gun so if you sell your gun on the black market and five years later it turns up in a crime you’re on the hook for illegal sales and have to buy the $100,000 policy on future gun purchases.5. Guns without serial nbmuers, untracked guns etc. would be a serious crime.On the other side:1. No gun databases. The firearm dealer checks the background and provides proof of transfer of the gun but the information will not be saved so you cannot create a database of who has what guns in their homes. You can only prove that the guns found inside a home are legal or illegal. Sort of like how cigarettes or booze has a tax stamp. That proves it was purchased legally but the gov’t doesn’t know you’re buying a little or a lot of the stuff.2. Background pre-clearing’. Register who you are and get a #, unless you get convicted of a violent crime or something like that you can use that # for quick clearing of your purchases or transfers at a reduced or no cost.3. Anti-gun laws voided cross the country. States can decide about concealed carry but cannot make it illegal to have guns in your house provided you followed 1-5 above.4. Assalt weapons, mega-clips etc. can be legalized provided one carries the $100,000 coverage on them.Would it have prevented the Newtown shooting? Probably not, the mother was quite well off and could have easily afforded the insurance and neither her nor the kid had any history that would have caused them to fail a background check. But it would almost certainly frustrate some rampage killings and limit a lot of more mundance gun crime an accidents. I suspect the insurance policies would not cost very much given that most guns almost never end up in crimes or accidents but those who establish a habit of letting their guns get into wrong places the premiums would become steeper (which they should given they would be by definition less responsible gun owners).I don’t get volokh’s concern about costs to lower income gun owners. Look, a gun is a material thing, material things cost money. The nature of money is that the more of it you have, the easier it is to get more material things. Guns aren’t cheap, even the lowest end oens cost a few hundred dollars. If you can’t afford that then you can’t afford a gun. Get a better job or cut back on other spending.

  2. John says:

    holy moly this blog is packed with false information.I will start with the second “myth” where it talks about guns don’t kill people, people do. Um, Chicago has the strictest gun laws in the country and the rate is the highest in country. Australia banned guns and now crime rate is at least doubled. This guy is worse than Obama when it comes to facts.

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