How many more tragedies must we endure before stricter gun control laws are enacted? Since the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting on December 14, 2013 which took the lives of 20 children and 6 adult school workers there have been 74 school shootings in the United States and our politicians have done nothing to stop the epidemic. The most recent mass shooting near U.C. Santa Barbara in Isla Vista, California on May 23, 2014 is reviving the debate about harsher gun control laws, but gun advocates, including the NRA and other pro-gun lobbyists in Washington D.C., are continuing to spread false and deceptive facts about gun use, ownership and murder rates associated with firearms.
Here are 7 misconceptions that pro-gun advocates are publicizing:
1. Additional guns will bring less homicides. Untrue. There is a solid link between high levels of gun possession and greater murder rates. A November 2013 study in the American Journal of Public Health found that despite not finding a connection, they discovered "states with higher rates of gun ownership had disproportionately large numbers of deaths from firearm-related homicides." After considering data from all 50 states from 1981 to 2010, the journal found that firearm ownership is a "significant predictor" of gun related murder rates, so that each time ownership increases by a percentage point, the murder rises by 0.9%.1
2. Nobody supports gun control. Incorrect. A May 2014 national study conducted at the University of Massachusetts Lowell Center found that 78% of Americans favor tougher gun control laws, including more stringent background checks and psychological testing of gun purchasers. Regrettably, gun lobbyists have unlimited financial resources for preventing gun laws from being passed and have a strangle hold on law makers.2
3. The 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution forbids stringent firearm laws. Untrue. In the U.S. Supreme Court ruling District of Columbia v. Heller (2008). The high court found that gun ownership bans were unconstitutional, but they also noted that state and federal agencies had flexibility in how they each can control gun ownership. For example - this meant that subjects such as forbidding guns in public places, could be part of firearm control laws without contradicting the constitution.
4. There are no links between gun control and less violence. Wrong. In 2011 Economist Richard Florida refuted this theory by finding a strong link between harsh regulations and fewer deaths. He said, "States which have one of three gun control restrictions in place such as assault weapons bans, trigger locks or safe storage requirements. Firearm deaths are significantly lower in states with stricter gun control legislation. Though the sample sizes are small, we find substantial negative correlations between firearm deaths and states that ban assault weapons, require trigger locks and mandate safe storage requirements for guns."3
5. If more people have guns, there will be fewer mass shootings. False. Firearm ownership in America may be increasing, but most of the mass shootings in the U.S. have occurred since 2007 and includes Virginia Tech, the Aurora shooting, and the Newtown tragedy.4
6. Having a gun makes you safe. Untrue. In a 2009 study published by the American Journal of Public Health, scholars discovered that those that those who possess firearms are more likely to get shot than people who do not have guns. The study determined, "Although successful defensive gun uses occur each year, the probability of success may be low for civilian gun users in urban areas. Such users should reconsider their possession of guns or, at least, understand that regular possession necessitates careful safety countermeasures." The study also found that the odds of an assault victim being shot if he was carrying a gun were 4.5 times greater, and the chances of him getting killed were 4.2 times greater. And in 2011, almost 10 times more people were shot and killed in quarrels than by citizens trying to prevent a crime.5
7. Countries such as Israel and Switzerland have high levels of firearm ownership, yet they have low rates of gun related violence and we should pattern ourselves after these nations. Incorrect. Gun advocates point to Israel and Switzerland as proof that fewer mass shootings are the result of allowing guns and encouraging armed civilians to intercept shooters. Janet Rosenbaum, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the School of Public Health at the State University of New York Downstate Medical Center School, researched firearm ownership and access in Israel and Switzerland. Her study found that gun ownership in both countries is rigorously controlled and is not encouraged. Compared with the U.S., Israel and Switzerland have lower gun ownership rates. Israel, where radical reforms for gun ownership were put into place in 2006, saw a decrease of 40% of suicide among soldiers. Consider that alongside the fact that Israel sends almost all of its youth to the army. Rosenbaum wrote that since gun ownership regulations have gotten more severe, "the lack of guns promotes the lack of firearm violence." Israelis may still be committing acts of violence, but they are certainly not using lethal firearms to do so.6
There is no doubt that the gun debate is being spotlighted in the new media right now and is a highly controversial subject, but with all this data and facts at our disposal, we have to wonder why our elected officials are still sitting on their hands and doing nothing to support change. We as a nation need to rise up and make sure something is done. If we sit back and do nothing, nothing will be accomplished. It begins with one person and one vote. We the silent majority can no longer afford to be mute. Action begins now, contact your local congressmen and voice your concerns. You can also support and join organizations such as The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence (www.smartgunlaws.org) or The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence (www.bradycampaign.org). Start local and think global to make a change.
1Michael Siegel, Craig S. Ross, and Charles King III. “The Relationship Between Gun Ownership and Firearm Homicide Rates in the United States, 1981–2010.” American Journal of Public Health. November 2013. Accessed 18 June 2014. http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/abs/10.2105/AJPH.2013.301409?journalCode=ajph&&&.
2Johnson, Patrick. “UMass – Lowell Survey Shows Most Americans Support Increased Gun Restrictions.” Masslive.com, November 2013. Accessed 18 June 2014. http://www.masslive.com/news/index.ssf/2014/05/umass-lowell_survey_shows_most.html.
3Florida, Richard. “The Geography of Gun Deaths.” The Atlantic, 13 January 2011. Accessed 18 June 2014. http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/01/the-geography-of-gun-deaths/69354/.
4Washington Post. “Deadliest U.S. Shootings.” Washingtonpost.com, 23 September 2013.
Accessed 18 June 2014. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/nation/deadliest-us-shootings/.
5Charles C. Branas, Therese S. Richmond, Dennis P. Culhane, Thomas R. Ten Have, and Douglas J. Wiebe. “Investigating the Link Between Gun Possession and Gun Assault.” American Journal of Public Health, November 2009. Accessed 18 June 2014. http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/abs/10.2105/AJPH.2008.143099?journalCode=ajph.
6Rosenbaum, Janet. “Gun Utopias? Firearm Access and Ownership in Israel & Switzerland.” PMC U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institute of Health, 17 November 2011. Accessed 18 June 2014. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3267868/.
Michael Thomas Barry is the author of numerous books that include the award winning, Murder and Mayhem 52 Crimes that Shocked Early California, 1849-1949 (2012, Schiffer Publishing). The book was the WINNER of the 2012 International Book Awards and a FINALIST in the 2012 Indie Excellence Book Awards for True Crime. Visit the author's website for more information: www.michaelthomasbarry.com.
The book can be purchased from Amazon through the following link: