There are three topics that are guaranteed to result in lively debate: does God exist, should abortion be legal, and what are common sense gun laws?
After waking up to hear of the hundreds shot at outside a country music venue in Las Vegas, many people around the world are currently debating passing ‘common sense’ gun laws. Everyone has an opinion. Not everyone has the facts.
In order to have any gun law debate, we must start by cutting through emotional, knee-jerk reactions and lay down facts with which we can agree.
In the spirit of laying that foundation, here are a few myths to get out of the way:
Myth #1: Gun owners are afraid, or they just buy guns to kill people.
A woman who is the victim of domestic violence, a business person who has had their life threatened repeatedly, and a person living in a high crime neighborhood might purchase a self-defense firearm out of fear. Those are justifiable purchases. They have advance knowledge their life is truly at risk.
And a tiny segment of society does purchase guns to kill people. That segment of society are criminals. Murder has been illegal for thousands of years.
Those that legally purchase firearms and legally conceal carry on a regular basis are above average citizens. Instead of absent-mindedly going through their day, these legal gun owners like to be prepared for emergencies.
Some people learn first aid and CPR to prepare for medical emergencies. Some people own fire extinguishers. Some people stockpile food and water in case of natural disaster. A gun owner is simply prepared in case a criminal or animal threatens their life.
Myth #2: We have to close the ‘gun show’ loophole.
There is no gun show loophole. When purchasing a firearm at a gun show, the buyer still has to go through a background check. The same applies to an internet sale. When purchasing a firearm from a long distance seller, the firearm has to be sent to a local gun dealer who will perform the background check before releasing the firearm for sale.
Myth #3: Trump made it so that “crazy people” can buy guns.
After the 2012 shooting in Newton, MA, the Obama administration directed the Social Security Administration to report people who had a third-party manage their financial affairs. The belief was these people were “mentally impaired” and, thus, shouldn’t be able to own firearms. President Trump signed a resolution reversing this practice.
President Trump’s action corrected an Obama regulation that was incredibly short-sighted. All those who have a third party managing their financial affairs are not necessarily “mentally unstable”. They could simply be people who are in a coma or who are recovering from a stroke. They could be your grandpa who set-up a third party administrator because he was diagnosed with cancer and is preparing ‘just in case’. Grandpa probably doesn’t want to have his right denied to legally own the firearm he hoped his son would inherit after his death. And he probably doesn’t want them confiscated just because he is fighting cancer.
The background check system already prevents mentally ill people from purchasing firearms. Those people were determined by a judge or other legal means as being so mentally unstable their right needs to be taken away. This is as it should be. The right to own firearms is an inalienable right. The process for taking away that right should be carefully considered.
Myth #4: Even blind people can own guns!
This isn’t a myth but neither is it a problem. Yes, the thought of blind people indiscriminately shooting at what they can’t see is a scary one; as is their driving cars. However, blind people do own cars. They frequently own a car so other people can drive them places. But a blind person isn’t going to have someone else use their gun, right?
The blind person may have owned their guns prior to becoming blind. The blind person may be legally blind but can see well enough to shoot. Legally blind individuals can often read large print books, so it stands to reason that there are some considered legally blind who can see well enough to locate a threat to themselves or others.
And there are many arguments that can be made for other disabled people to own firearms for self-protection. After all, handicapped people have fewer options for less-lethal means of self-defense and a greater need for some kind of equalizer.
Myth #5: Other countries have banned guns. The U.S. should do the same.
Our founding fathers knew other countries that restricted individuals from owning guns. That is why they purposely listed individual gun ownership as the second item in the Bill of Rights.
First, this is because the Constitution restricts the federal government from maintaining a standing army inside our borders. Because of this, citizens needed to be prepared to fight for their country and defend their communities at a moment’s notice.
The second reason is that citizens are the last line of defense to preserve a Constitutional government should corruption try to destroy it. In modern times, that concept sounds unthinkable to many, but for the framers revolution loomed large. Huge, powerful governments were fresh on their minds. American independence was won by defeating England, the most powerful country in the known world at that time, which had recruited the help of Germany, a nation with a fighting force known for their viciousness.
The U.S. isn’t an authoritarian regime. This is not due to dumb luck. It’s precisely BECAUSE we have a half-million semi-automatic weapons in civilian hands.
And sadly, other countries that have banned guns, still experience gun violence and other violent crimes.
Myth #6: Guns are causing crime. Mass shootings are increasing.
The U.S. banned automatic weapons in 1986 then created ‘gun free zones’. So why are we told that mass shootings are getting worse? Are we dealing with factors of unintended consequences? After all, criminals will select victims who can’t defend themselves.
Gun ownership is up in the country. Yet crime, especially violent crime, is down. There are several factors at play with both trends that aren’t necessarily related. However, some statisticians, like John Lott, have analyzed data that indicates firearm possession, particularly concealed-carry, reduces violent crimes in communities. One of the violent crimes showing significant reduction is rape.
As for mass shooting, the trend certainly FEELS on the rise, especially right after a mass shooting. However, a complete view of statistics only demonstrate a random trend of peaks and valleys over time. Many data presented to the public by organizations attempt to indicate mass shootings are on the rise. But how data is used in many of these cases reveals statistical reports that weight the findings to emphasize the peaks in trends, and de-emphasize the reductions revealed in the numbers.
Myth #7: There are too many gun deaths in America.
Again, this is not a myth. After all, even one death is too many. But the implication is the American lifestyle is an endless stream of gang-land street killings, which is a myth.
- 64% of firearm deaths are suicides. Controlling guns won’t solve that but dealing with suicide prevention might.
- Over 20% of firearm deaths are from gang violence which means criminals are killing each other. Restricting guns won’t help but addressing youth & culture might.
- Some percentage of the remaining are justified shootings in self-defense. Some are from domestic violence which could be addressed, too. Some are, of course, criminal murders.
Conducting research to see the connection between gun violence and the abuse of psychiatric medications might provide some further answers.
We should remain vigillent to study the behavior driving violence. However, coming to the conclusion that there are “too many” gun deaths in the United States isn’t a legitimate precursor to the simplistic assumption that restricting legal gun ownership provides a solution.
Myth #8: The 2nd Amendment (2A) was written when people only had muskets.
Inalienable rights are unchanging. Our wise and studied constitutional framers recognized that there are unchanging truths. The legal process that would remove our constitutional guarantees was made intentionally difficult. They recognized the threat of those who whip up fear and anger can lead to imprudent action. It does not follow that the Second Amendment is somehow lessened in its guarantee because innovation introduced more powerful weapons.
Myth #9: We’re not the militia, that’s the military.
The Supreme Court of the United States has declared that 2A rights extend to private individuals. All the rights in the Bill of Rights are inalienable (can’t be changed).
Myth #10: No one needs really dangerous guns.
Fortunately for the average U.S. citizen, 2A rights aren’t dependent on what someone else says is “needed” or “not needed”.
When we drive our cars, do we ‘need’ a pickup truck, sports car, SUV or mini-van? Why not pass a law that says everyone has to drive a Prius? They’re perfectly adequate cars.
Myth #11: Restricting magazine size or amount of ammo available is a solution.
For trained law enforcement officers in a fire-fight, accuracy in hitting the target ranges from 17% to 40%. Now consider that victims of violence can be threatened by more than one criminal. Ammo limit puts the person defending themselves at a disadvantage. Unlike movies, the first bullet doesn’t necessarily stop the criminal.
Myth #12: Silencers make it so you can’t tell where the shooter is located.
Suppressors (silencers) don’t make a firearm “silent”. Suppressors bring down the noise level. A suppressor makes it easier to do ‘source location’ because there is less reverberation. A suppressor also reduces the ‘freeze’ reaction on potential victims. Those without ear protection also find it easier to communicate with each other. When police arrive at a scene where more than one shot has been fired, suppressors may make it easier for criminals, victims and by-standers to hear law enforcement officers commands since their ears aren’t ringing. This could reduce the incidents of police shootings.
Myth #13: Killing is wrong.
Murder is wrong. Self-defense with a gun means I’m already certain the criminal means to kill me or someone else. We DO NOT have a right to murder. We DO have a right to life even to the extent we can defend our life from those who would murder us. ALL shootings are tragic – even if the shooting is of someone who was trying to kill. Illegal activity never results in happiness.
Myth #14: There must be something we can do!
The attempts to pass new gun laws are reactionary and emotional. But not well thought out. The argument is basically this: ‘Let’s pass a law that makes it illegal for criminals to not follow the law.’
There are problems the government cannot solve for us.
Could Las Vegas have been prevented? Maybe not. If the venue had been moved inside then that presents a whole new set of security concerns. Some say outdoor venues could have a defensive sniper watching the area (as happened at the last Super Bowl). However, in the case of Las Vegas the sniper might have been stationed atop the same hotel where the shooter was located which wouldn’t have been useful at all.
There are always vulnerabilities. When we squeeze the “security balloon” one place, we don’t know where else it will expand.
Since Cain murdered Abel with a rock, we keep learning new and horrible ways criminals can think up to be evil. Normal people don’t think that way. We try to prevent criminals from hijacking planes, but we didn’t predict the hijackers would use the planes to murder people by flying them into buildings.
At this point, what we CAN do is wait for the investigations to draw conclusions. We don’t have all the facts yet. Once we do, good preventative measures might be revealed so they can be put in place.
Take Responsibility For Your Own Safety
In the meantime, be aware of your surroundings. If your ‘gut’ tells you there is something wrong, get out of there. If you suspect something, say something. Be prepared with non-lethal self-defense knowledge, situational awareness, plans on how to respond during a variety of emergencies and first-aid techniques.
If someone is shooting, remember: Run, Hide, Fight. Running is a good first defense because it gets you out of the area. Additionally, a moving target is harder to hit. If you can’t run, hide. Hiding is also known as ‘concealment’ which means the shooter can’t see you. The best concealment is also ‘cover’. Cover means where you’re hiding also will protect you from getting hit by bullets. It is important to know the difference. Behind a car’s engine is decent cover. Behind a fabric curtain isn’t. Lastly, if you can’t find a decent place to hide, you have to fight.
To fight, be mentally prepared. Remember, the criminal is trying to kill you. You’re fighting for your life at this point so dirty tricks are allowed. You’ll get hurt so keep fighting when that happens. Even if you have no chance of winning the fight, make sure you create evidence so police can catch your killer.
When you’re in a situation where you have to defend yourself, police rarely get there fast enough. Most conceal carry permit holders go their entire life without ever needing their gun. That’s good. But it is terrible to need that gun and not have one.
- Background checks – https://www.fbi.gov/services/cjis/nics and https://www.thetrace.org/2015/07/background-checks-nics-guns-dylann-roof-charleston-church-shooting/
- Illegal gun transaction characteristics – https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/221074.pdf
- John Lott – http://johnlott.org/
- Leah Libresco, statistician – https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/i-used-to-think-gun-control-was-the-answer-my-research-told-me-otherwise/2017/10/03/d33edca6-a851-11e7-92d1-58c702d2d975_story.html?utm_term=.fddaa092fe48
- Elderly & firearm use: https://www.usconcealedcarry.com/senior-sense/