Some NRA myths
Myth # 1
"The NRA's goal is to protect law-abiding gun owners and hunters."
In fact, the leaders of the NRA are only interested in protecting the gun industry. If you look at the people on the board of directors and the executives of the NRA, you will find that many of them have something to gain financially from the gun industry whether they are gun manufacturers, gun dealers, or have some other stake in the gun industry. The fact remains: the only people who benefit from the actions of the NRA is the multi-million dollar gun industry. For an in depth look at the relationship between the NRA and the gun industry, read the book "NRA:Money, Firepower & Fear".
Myth # 2
"All gun control efforts will lead to a total ban on guns."
Wrong! The vast majority of gun control legislation being proposed in this country has nothing to do with banning guns of any kind. Gun control opponents contrived this lie to manufacture a "They're coming to take our guns away!" hysteria. Did licensing of drivers and registration of cars lead to a ban on automobiles? Did licensing of dogs lead to a ban on pet ownership? Like myself, the vast majority of people who support gun control oppose an outright ban on all guns.
Myth # 3
"Gun control only effects law-abiding citizens. Criminals won't be affected by gun control laws."
Wrong again. The Brady law, for example, does just the opposite. It does not prohibit law abiding citizens from buying guns, but with a background check, makes it harder for a criminal to buy a gun. So far, waiting periods and background checks have already lead to the arrest of tens of thousands of known felons who have tried to buy handguns over the counter.
Myth # 4
"Gun control is a socialist plot to disarm America and 'take our guns away'."
This tired old lie has recently been dusted off by the NRA. They seem to ignore the fact that many gun control measures are supported by 91% of the American people. A poll in US News and World Report showed that 42% of gun OWNERS support a gun licensing system. There are many notable conservatives who support gun control measures. Conservative commentator George Will has voiced support for banning semi-automatic assault weapons. Another conservative columnist, James Kilpatrick supports limiting the availability of concealable handguns. Former surgeon general C. Everett Koop, advanced his own proposal for licensing gun owners. Conservative columnist Cal Thomas publicly supports some gun control measures. In March of 1991 a well known speaker issued the following statement: "You do know that I'm a member of the NRA, and my position on the right to bear arms is well known. But I want you to know something else, and I am going to say it in clear, unmistakable language. I support the Brady Bill, and I urge Congress to enact it without further delay". The speaker of those words was that famous "liberal" Ronald Reagan. On another occasion, Reagan endorsed the assault weapons ban. These are only a few of the "socialists" who support gun control.
Myth # 5
"The supporters of gun control are motivated by 'fear' of guns."
The support for gun control is motivated by the facts and statistics regarding violent crime and the availability of guns. I support licensing of drivers and registration of automobiles but I do not 'fear' cars. Again I will remind you that 42% of gun OWNERS support a gun licensing system. The NRA, on the other hand, constantly uses fear and hysteria to drum up opposition to gun control.
Myth # 6
"The second amendment to the Constitution was intended to arm the people against a possible tyrannical government. We would need modern weaponry, like semi automatic assault rifles, to fight the government."
If that is true, then why stop at handguns and semi automatic assault rifles? This argument would lead to the conclusion that to adequately combat the government, private citizens would need to have machine guns, bazookas, shoulder launched missiles, tanks, blackhawk helicopters, and yes even nuclear weapons. Again, this exemplifies the idiocy of the NRA's arguments.
Myth # 7
"When criminals can no longer have easy access to guns, they will turn to other deadly weapons such as knives and baseball bats to commit their crimes."
Most everyone would agree that it is far easier to commit a crime or kill someone with a gun than with a knife or baseball bat. Most crimes that are committed with a gun would never be attempted with any other sort of weapon. I think it is highly unlikely that the drive-by shootings that are becoming so common in this country will be replaced by drive-by stabbings.
Myth # 8
"The primary reason for the high level of crime in this country is that judges are too soft on criminals and the legal system allows too many criminals to go free."
There is some truth to the claim that criminals too often go free because of a mere technicality or because they plea bargain the charges to a lesser crime. But this alone cannot possibly account for the radically high rate of crime in this country compared to other countries. The U.S. already imprisons a larger percentage of it's population than just about any other country in the world. In fact, one of the reasons criminals are often set free is because the prisons are just too overcrowded. We build more prisons and they fill up too. The laws in this country are no more lax than the laws in most other major democracies. Perhaps the NRA believes that Americans are just naturally more violent and crime prone than citizens of other countries but I don't agree. The one and only consistent difference between the U.S. and all the other major democracies that have a mere fraction of our crime is that each and every one of those countries has much stricter gun control laws on the books.
Myth # 9
"A machine gun is no more deadly of a weapon than a baseball bat."
Honest! I actually heard an NRA spokesman say this on national television. This quote is so ridiculous that it perfectly exemplifies the outrageous claims being made by the NRA. I think there are very few people who would disagree with the statement that it would be far easier to kill a room full of people with a machine gun than with a baseball bat.
Myth # 10
In an article in the American Rifleman, Wayne LaPierre claimed that Janet Reno admitted in a speech in December of 1993 that she had the stated goal of "taking your guns away" and that they were going to ban just about every type of firearm and ammunition. And he went on to say that "they want these laws for all guns - and that includes your rifles and shotguns".
So naturally I read the rest of the article with great interest. I assumed that, to support his claim, he would reprint the direct quote by Janet Reno where she said all this. But it was nowhere to be found. I couldn't understand this! All the NRA cronies I've ever spoken to insist that the NRA always backs up what it says with facts. Could it be that no such quote exists?
Myth # 11
"Owning a gun will protect you from crime."
An FBI report,"Crime in the United States, 1973" states that a gun kept in the home for self-defense is six times more likely to be used in a deliberate or accidental homicide involving a relative or friend than a burglar or unlawful intruder. More recently, criminologist Arthur Kellerman declared that for every case of gun use for self defense, there are 43 instances where guns are used in suicides, homicides and accidental deaths. But that number may be a bit conservative. According to Federal statistics, for every time a handgun is used by a citizen to kill a criminal, 118 innocent people are killed in handgun murders, suicides and accidents. Studies have shown that people who keep guns at home nearly TRIPLE their chances of being murdered. Whats more, a gun kept at home is 37 times more likely to be used to commit suicide than to be used for self defense.Still believe that possession of a gun makes you safer? Consider this :
According to criminologist Arthur Kellermann almost 20 percent of the police officers who are fatally wounded with firearms are shot with their own gun.
Myth # 12
"There are 20 thousand gun laws in this country. Why do we need any more?"
Think about it. Most of those laws are city ordinances. If one community has tough gun control laws and a city nearby has little or no gun control laws, the gun laws won't have a lot of effect. The guns will flow from the city with no restrictions to the city with strict laws. New York City is a good example of this. Most guns used in crimes in New York were purchased legally somewhere else and transported to NYC. But the experiences of many other nations have shown that when a few reasonable, modest gun control laws are passed on a nation-wide basis, they DO have a significant effect on reducing crime.
Myth # 13
"Israel and Switzerland have very high rates of gun ownership and they don't have our crime problems. This proves that guns are not the problem and gun control is not the answer."
In fact, both Switzerland and Israel have much stricter gun control laws than the United States. All men in Switzerland are members of the militia and issued rifles by the government and these rifles are all registered and all ammunition must be accounted for. When it comes to handguns, the Swiss require a background check, a permit to purchase a handgun, and handgun registration. Apparently, Swiss gun owners don't consider this an infringement on their right to own a gun. Israel requires a license to carry, possess or buy a handgun and they conduct thorough background checks, including personal interviews.
Myth # 14
"The NRA supports the law-enforcement community."
Well maybe they did once upon a time, but not anymore. Each of the following law enforcement organizations gave strong support to the Brady bill : The Fraternal Order of Police, the National Association of Police Organizations, the International Brotherhood of Police Officers, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, and the Police Executive Research forum. The NRA stood in opposition to all these groups.
One tactic that the NRA has been using in recent years is to attack and smear any police chief throughout the country who publicly opposes them on gun control issues. A case in point is San Jose, California police chief Joseph D. McNamara who criticized the NRA and supported the Brady bill. The NRA ran full page ads in national magazines claiming that McNamara wanted to "legalize drugs, marijuana, cocaine, heroin, crack." But McNamara never advocated legalizing any such thing. It was a fabrication by the NRA. Another example was Nashville police chief Joe Casey who was also president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police. When Casey supported a waiting period for the purchase of handguns the NRA went ballistic and tried to get him fired.
Most recently the NRA has been attacking the BATF and the FBI, calling Federal agents "Jack-booted thugs". Dewey Stokes, the president of the Fraternal Order of Police said on May 19, 1995 that "Every law enforcement officer in the country that does wear a badge ought to be outraged at what the NRA is doing." He went on to say that "We don't need the NRA making law enforcement officers, whether at the Federal or at the local level, targets of these hate groups."
There are many more examples of the NRA's opposition to law enforcement agencies in the book "Under Fire : The NRA And The Battle For Gun Control".
Myth # 15
The NRA has been saying that the assault weapons ban only affects guns with certain "cosmetic" differences that make them look more dangerous. The guns affected by the assault weapons ban are no more dangerous than any hunting rifle.
That's like saying there are only "cosmetic" differences between a Ford Taurus and an M-1 tank. The features that the assault weapons ban applies to are not just cosmetic. They are features that make those weapons more suitable for killing people in battle than for hunting, target shooting, or self defense.
Myth # 16
The Brady law isn't having much effect catching criminals. There were only 15 convictions of Brady law violators in 1994, 21 in 1995 and 30 in 1996.
The success of the Brady law should be measured by the thousands of criminals who were denied guns and by the thousands of convicted felons and parolees who were thrown back in prison for parole violations and for felony arrest warrants that were revealed by the Brady law's background check. Most of these people were never charged with violating the Brady law itself but they are in prison just the same because of the Brady law. For specific examples of how the Brady law has helped send criminals back to prison, go to my Brady Law web page.
Myth # 17
Guns are used legally in self-defense about 2.5 million times a year in the U.S..
This is a classic case of disinformation by the NRA. First of all, the NRA's claim of 2.5 million cases of self defense a year is a misrepresentation of Kleck's own results. Kleck had extrapolated from his survey that guns were used in self-defense between 800,000 and 2.45 million times a year. That's quite a huge margin of error there. So naturally the NRA takes the high end of that range and rounds up from that.
Secondly, it is important to note that other criminologists have found serious flaws with this survey. The biggest problem is that Kleck let the respondents of his telephone survey determine whether their use of a gun was a legitimate act of self-defense. In other words if someone took out a gun and threatened a neighbor during an otherwise non-violent argument, and that person thinks this is a justified use of a gun, then Kleck would count that as a legitimate case of self-defense.
Think about it. Any time anyone uses or threatens someone else with a gun, that person brandishing the weapon will ALWAYS consider their use of a gun to be justified. Even a criminal who shoots someone while committing a crime thinks that they are justified.
According to the Census Bureau's annual National Crime Victimization Survey there are about 80,000 times a year that firearms are used in self-defense - a mere fraction of the number that Kleck's survey claims. Unlike Kleck's survey, the Census Bureau's survey is not just a single phone call. It involves trained interviewers who follow up with seven interviews with the same household over a 3 year period in order to verify the accuracy of the data. A good source of information about Gary Kleck and his survey is the Aug. 15, 1994 issue of U.S. News and World Report. The article lists other flaws that have been found in Kleck's survey results.
Myth # 18
"In no instance throughout all of history, in any nation, has gun-control stopped until all guns have been removed from the populace."
I have seen several die-hard NRA supporters use this statement when trying to warn against the "evils" of gun control. I guess it would be pretty effective if it weren't completely untrue. Israel and Switzerland, to name just 2 examples, are countries that have had very strict gun control laws for several years and yet also have high rates of gun ownership. Refer to Myth # 13 above for more details.
Myth # 19
"The statistics about gun deaths are misleading because most of the people killed by guns are criminals shot in the act of breaking the law."
Again this is not true. Looking over the 1995 Uniform Crime Report that I downloaded from the FBI's web site, I see that there were 13,629 firearm murders (not including accidents, suicides or involuntary manslaughter) and only 610 justifiable homicides. That's 1 justifiable homicide for every 22 murders. If you factor in suicides, accidents, etc. that would work out to about 1 justifiable homicide in every 40 or more gun deaths.
Myth # 20
"Florida's crime rate dropped after they passed a law to allow concealed weapons to be carried in public. Therefore concealed carry laws must reduce crime."
According to Handgun Control, Florida's crime rate actually increased for the first few years after that concealed carry law was passed before the crime rate started back down again. But if you don't want to believe Handgun Control, I have an Associated Press newspaper article from March 14, 1995 that reported a study that was conducted by the University of Maryland where they tracked the homicide rate in several cities before and after concealed gun laws were relaxed. Three of the cities they studied were in Florida. The results were quite different than the NRA would have you believe. The homicide rate INCREASED 3 percent in Miami, 22 percent in Tampa and 74 percent in Jacksonville.
The Second Amendment reads :
“A well regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
The gun lobby has perpetuated several myths about the Second Amendment that it uses to justify its positions - and sell guns. These myths have been used to lull the public into apathy and inaction - and to sell guns. Here are some of the most common myths and arguments that you can use to disprove them.
MYTH # 1
The Second Amendment to the Constitution guarantees an individual right to own and carry a gun.
The gun lobby focuses on the second half of the Second Amendment when making this argument. In doing so it misinterprets the meaning of the amendment. The Second Amendment is designed to give the states the right to form and maintain a "well regulated militia" to provide for the security of the state and as supplement to the police. It and is not meant to ensure an individual right to bear arms. The amendment means what it says - in its entirety.
The National Guard, created in 1903, is the modern equivalent of an organized state militia. The members of the National Guard are provided with arms when called into duty and are not required to privately own firearms for service. This view that the Second Amendment is a group rather than an individual right has been upheld by the United States Supreme Court as well as lower federal courts.
In fact, no law restricting the ownership of private arms has ever been struck down on Second Amendment grounds. The Supreme Court decided in the 1939 case, U.S. v. Miller, 307 U.S. 174, that possession of a firearm is not protected by the Second Amendment unless it has “some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia. The Supreme Court has stated that today’s militia is the National Guard. That decision by the Supreme Court is the law of the land. We challenge those who claim that the Federal government does not have the right to restrict the private ownership of firearms to file a lawsuit against the Federal government, on Second Amendment basis, to overthrow the Brady Bill and/or the ban on assault guns.
MYTH # 2
The Founding Fathers of this nation intended to give every individual the right to own firearms.
The constitution was drafted in 1787 by delegates from the former colonies appointed for the purpose. There was much discussion, comments, and disagreements about all parts of the constitution, including the second amendment. Like any political document, drafting the constitution required compromises between the different views of those who were given the task of drafting the document. It had to be ratified by the states before going into effect. The states clearly wanted to maintain their malitias. They feared armed rebellions by organizations within their state. This had already happened in Massachusetts just one year before the convention convened. In 1786, the "Shays" rebellion was put down by the state militia. Keeping strong, well regulated state militias was of great interest to many delegates.
Recent research by noted historians support the argument that the states which permitted slavery greatly feared an armed rebellion by slaves and wanted to be prepared to deal with it. It must be kept in mind when reading high-toned pronouncements by some leaders of the time that many of the most vocal represented "slave" states and were themselves owners of slaves. Their state governments and their livelyhood depended on maintaining the institution of slaver. Those who quote Thomas Jefferson should be aware that he was from a "slave" state, Virginia, owned slaves, and did not attend the constitution convention.
Please refer to our website release titled "The Hidden History of the Second Amendment". Though certain individuals among our Founding Fathers may have believed in an individual right to firearm ownership of arms, the Second Amendment did not reflect this. Once again, although certain individuals among the writers of the constitution may have believed in an individual right to own and bear arms, the resulting document of the group as a whole did not reflect this view of firearm ownership.
MYTH # 3
The solution to oppression and totalitarian government is for all citizens to own guns.
The gun lobby often cites the Holocaust, violence in Bosnia, hunger in Somalia, and racism in the U.S. as problems that would have been or could be overcome if those being oppressed were armed. While guns may add a personal sense of security, the realities of war and relative power show that it is impossible for a few armed citizens to overthrow an organized army. In WWII, Germany was able to overrun several nations with armed militaries and resistance (e.g. Poland and France) before a coalition of nations was able to stop and defeat them. Several nations which have restrictions on firearms have not fallen into the throes of tyranny (e.g. Japan, Canada, and Britain, Australia).
Democracies thrive in nations with few firearms in the hands of individual citizens. In recent history, the nations of Eastern Europe as well as South Africa have shown that oppressive governments can be overthrown by citizens working through activism and nonviolent protest - not by taking up arms. The movement in India led by Mohandas Ghandi which freed India and the civil-rights movement in the United States are examples of non-violent movements which achieved great success.
Freedom in the United States depends on the ballot - not the bullet.
May 4, 1999
The NRA's bogus argument against gun control.
In recent days, the National Rifle Association and its allies have argued that additional gun laws would not have helped avert the April 20 Colorado high-school massacre, because gun laws already on the books proved useless. Why propose "more gun laws" since the Colorado killers had broken "17 laws" anyway, asked House Republican Conference chairman J.C. Watts Jr., R-Okla. Republican presidential candidate Gary Bauer ("18 gun laws were violated") and Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., ("17 to 19 laws ... We have lots of laws on the books") echoed this construction. The NRA's latest tally, provided to Slate Tuesday, lists 20 laws allegedly violated in the massacre. But on closer inspection, the list evaporates.
A. Distractions. The first four laws cited by the NRA concern bombs.
1. Possession of a "destructive device" (i.e., bomb).
2. Manufacturing a "destructive device" (i.e., bomb).
3. Use of an explosive or incendiary device in the commission of a felony.
4. Setting a device designed to cause an explosion upon being triggered.
What do bomb laws have to do with gun laws? According to the NRA, nothing. "Incredibly, we've been asked if we would support an instant check on explosives purchases," NRA Vice President Wayne LaPierre noted with disgust in a speech at Saturday's NRA convention. "Well, I don't have to tell you, we're not the National Explosives Association." So, why does the NRA include bomb laws on its list? To pad the total.
B. Tautologies. Nine other laws on the list concern the use of guns to commit the massacre.
5. Use of a firearm or "destructive device" (i.e., bomb) to commit a murder that is prosecutable in a federal court.
6. Possession of a firearm or "destructive device" (i.e., bomb) in furtherance of a crime of violence that is prosecutable in a federal court.
7. Brandishing a firearm or "destructive device" (i.e., bomb) in furtherance of a crime of violence that may be prosecuted in a federal court.
8. Discharging a firearm or "destructive device" (i.e., bomb) in furtherance of a crime of violence that may be prosecuted in a federal court.
9. Conspiracy to commit a crime of violence prosecutable in federal court.
15. Possession of a firearm on school property.
16. Discharge of a firearm on school property, with a reckless disregard for another's safety.
18. Intentionally aiming a firearm at another person.
19. Displaying a firearm in a public place in a manner calculated to alarm.
The salient feature of these nine laws is that the killers violated them during the massacre, not beforehand. To say that these laws were violated is merely to say that the massacre happened, i.e., that two kids walked into a school and brandished, aimed, and discharged firearms in a manner calculated to alarm people, endanger the safety of others, and further a crime of violence. It is meaningless to bring up these laws in a discussion of prevention. Like murder laws, they are designed to prevent a killer's second crime, not his first.
C. Laws not violated or not known to have been violated.
12. Possession of a handgun by a person under age 18.
13. Providing a handgun to a person under age 18.
14. Licensed dealers may sell rifles and shotguns only to persons age 18 or over, and handguns to persons age 21 or over. ... Persons under age 18 are prohibited from possessing handguns from anyone (dealer or not).
17. Possession, interstate transportation, sale, etc., of a stolen firearm.
20. Possession of a firearm with an obliterated serial number.
"It is not known, however, whether the 17-year-old perpetrator possessed the handgun used in the crime," concedes the NRA. The other perpetrator was 18 years old. According to the New York Times, the man who evidently bought the gun and passed it to the killers was 22 years old, and investigators don't know whether he "sold, gave or lent the gun or which gunman ... was the recipient." As for the other three guns, the Times says the 17-year-old perpetrator's 18-year-old girlfriend "has admitted buying two shotguns and a rifle for him. But she was not charged because it is legal in Colorado for a minor to own shotguns and rifles." There is no evidence that any of the guns was stolen. Also, the NRA concedes that it has only been "suggested that at least one of the firearms used in the crime had an obliterated serial number."
D. Duplicates. Two statutes on the list ban possession of certain kinds of weapons, essentially duplicating other statutes on the list that ban acquisition of those weapons.
10. Possession of a short-barreled shotgun.
12. Possession of a handgun by a person under age 18.
E. Formalities. So the list of relevant laws known to have been violated boils down to one :
11. Manufacturing a "sawed-off" shotgun.
This law prohibited the two perpetrators from making a sawed-off shotgun. However, no law prohibited them from acquiring both a shotgun and a saw. So this law means nothing.
Would the additional laws proposed by President Clinton last week have made any difference? One of them would prohibit 18- to 20-year-olds from possessing handguns. If that law had been passed and effectively enforced, it would have prevented the elder gunman from acquiring the handgun used in the massacre. Another of Clinton's proposals would hold negligent parents liable for crimes committed with guns by their kids. This law might or might not have prompted the parents of the Colorado killers to intervene before the massacre.
It is always possible that more gun laws would not have helped. But the NRA's bogus list proves nothing.