Did You Get A Gun For Christmas? Here are 7 Anti-Gun Myths That Need to Be Debunked ASAP
Since the tragedy at Sandy Hook elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, America has been embroiled in a renewed gun control debate. In the Information Age there can be a lot of misinformation, and gun control is unfortunately no exception. Here are some of the ways you are being misled.
1. “Assault Weapons”
The term “assault weapon” is a made-up political term. AR-15’s are not military rifles; so unscrupulous politicians refer to them as “military-style assault weapons.” ‘Style’ – as in cosmetic appearance – is the only true word in that description. The Military uses the M4A1 carbine rifle, which looks outwardly very much like an AR-15, but they do not have the same functionality; AR-15s are not machine guns, though the terminology used is meant to imply they are. Senator Diane Feinstein (R-Calif.) says AR-15’s are designed for killing as many people in close quarters combat as possible, when in fact the AR-15 is an intermediate to distance rifle with a range of 400-600m. Feinstein and others claim AR-15’s are not used for hunting; but in fact there are dozens of varieties of AR-15 used for hunting everything from varmint/small game to deer, elk, and dangerous game. The AR-15 is not the weapon of choice for most mass shooters according to James Alan Fox, a highly respected criminologist from Northeastern University in Boston; handguns are. In fact, rifle homicides comprise a very small amount of homicides, accounting for less than 3% of homicides (323 out of 12,664 in 2011) mass shootings or otherwise.
2. “High Capacity Magazines”
Some politicians would have us believe that so-called “high capacity” magazines are responsible for a wave of death sweeping the nation. Academic, scholarly research shows the vast majority of homicides average four shots with less than 10 shots fired. While the Aurora shooter infamously used a 100-round magazine drum, these are novelty items that are prone to jam. In fact, it did jam probably saving lives. But mass shooters don’t need 100-round magazines to commit atrocity – the shooters at Virginia Tech and Columbine used 10-round magazines, they just brought a lot of them (17 and 13 respectively). James Alan Fox states mass shooters often meticulously plan their attacks in advance; a high capacity magazine ban will not deter them as Virginia Tech and Columbine illustrate.
3. Gun Show “Loophole”
Several people, including President Obama have stated that 40% of guns were bought via “gun show loopholes.” This is not true. For one, the term “gun show loophole” implies that people are deviously getting around something when in actuality; it is just selling personal private property and is not illegal or nefarious. Additionally, private sales may not actually occur at a gun show at all. More important than loose terminology is that this claim is based on a study from 1994 of 251 people. The Washington Post evaluated this claim with the study’s original authors and says the president distorted the truth. The actual range is 14%-22% with a plus or minus error margin of 6%. This means the final accurate range of this study is as low as 8%, but no more than 28%; neither figure is 40%. Further, it’s implied that closing private sales would solve the issue of criminals obtaining guns; it doesn’t. It fails to address illegal trafficking and straw man purchases. A Department of Justice study indicates that 78.8% of criminals get guns from friends or family (39.6%) or from the street/illegally (39.2%). To this point, the FBI states there are 1.2 million gang members in U.S. and that gangs illegally traffic guns as addition to narcotics.
4. Mass Shootings Are Not Increasing:
Former President Bill Clinton, Mother Jones and others have claimed that mass shootings are increasing. Once again not true. James Alan Fox’s analysis of the Mother Jones‘ study indicates they left out mass murders which made it seem there was an increase after the Federal assault weapon ban expired (they’ve updated their story since). Some mass murders receive more media attention than others, however the number has been consistently about 20 annually since 1976. The number dead from these mass shootings fluctuates from about 25 to 150, depending on the year (Fox’s chart is shown above). In 2012, it was less than 100. Though tragic, this represents a fraction of 1% of homicides. In recent years, homicides by raw number peaked in 1991 at 24,700; it’s dropped in halfsince, and the homicide rate per 100,000 people today is less than it was even in 1900 (see below).
5. Anti-Gun Organizations Lump in Suicide & Injuries With Crime Data:
After a mass murder shooting anti-gun organizations like the Brady campaign inevitably call for gun restrictions; these organizations also cite gun violence data other than crime data to include suicides and injuries. This is misleading. Although accidents and suicide are public health concerns, it is disingenuous to include them with homicide in response to a horrific crime. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), suicide rates have crept up slightly 2000-2009, but are still lower than the rate per 100,000 from 1950-1990. It’s not accurate to say guns contribute to suicide causal factors since the rate is lower now. And ultimately, legislation aimed to prevent crime by banning weapons and limiting magazine capacity has no reasonable connection to either suicide or accidents. We ought to compare apples to apples: suicide with suicide prevention, accidents with safety programs, and homicide with policy that would realistically reduce homicide.