name-calling

By Sgt. Patrick Hayes

We all know someone, friends, coworkers, even relatives who either believe the gun control lies or actively spout them. These are usually baseless exaggerations designed to instill fear with the intent of forcing a type of government control over a natural and constitutional right. As Robert Farago and others have said, it is not about guns, it’s about control. If you choose to engage a gun control activist in a debate, understand that you will rarely get a sensible, logical engagement. This is because they won’t listen to you. They don’t care about facts or the truth. They want control and you are not going to change that . . .

The ones we can talk to are average citizens who have been brainwashed to believe the hype. They are usually folks who grew up in typical gun control areas of the country. They have never been around guns and are usually afraid of them. But they are open to new ideas and facts are still relevant to them.

What follows are some gun control myths and the ways to counter them.

MYTH: More/stricter gun laws will stop violent crime.

TRUTH: We already have thousands of gun laws on the books as well as laws against violent crime. Simple truth: criminals do not obey the law. There is no law that can be passed that will change that. Areas that have the strictest gun control laws in the country have some of the highest violent gun crime rates. This is a fact.

MYTH: Thousands (or any other huge number) of children are killed in gun accidents each year.

TRUTH: There are usually fewer than 200 accidental gun deaths involving children under 18 years of age in any given year. This isn’t even close to the top of the list of causes. Motor vehicle accidents, drownings, falls and other such common incidents kill far more children than gun accidents do. A common tactic gun controllers use is to highlight a number without putting it in any context. Ask them to cite a legitimate source. Ask them to list the top five causes of child death in the United States. Accidental gun deaths won’t be in there.

MYTH: Assault rifles are being used to kill thousands of people. They’re more deadly than other guns. Magazines holding more than X number of rounds make these guns more dangerous.

TRUTH: These are the common “attack the gun gear” arguments. The idea is to pass small laws that eliminate guns and ammunition gradually over time. By demonizing an object, they hope to instill fear and use that fear to push more gun control laws on the public. That is why the media loves mass shooter incidents. “See…we told you! Assault rifles are killing our children! ” He had 10 30-round magazines!

The truth is rifles are rarely used in homicides, about 3%. The truth is mass shootings are rare, just as they have been throughout our history. It’s tragic, but it’s hardly a problem that warrants laws that affect 300 million law-abiding gun owners. The Clinton assault weapons ban did nothing to reduce crime. This tactic has been the most successful attack on gun rights to date. Most of the pro-gun control state governments have passed laws banning certain firearms and magazines.

If this topic comes up, try to put the issue in perspective. Explain the difference between a rifle and a handgun. Point out that a rifle that looks “deadly” is no more deadly than any other rifle. Explain the fact that gun control advocates in the 1980s tried unsuccessfully to ban handguns and this is their next attempt to ban guns…all guns.

MYTH: Guns are used more often in crime than self defense. Guns are the cause of violent crime. Guns make a home more dangerous. Guns cause suicides.

TRUTH: These are the “guns are evil” arguments. These are designed to make citizens fear them, and many do. This is almost always due to a misunderstanding of what firearms are, how many there are, and what they are used for.

In 2012 there were 14,287 homicides in the United States. ( FBI-UCR ) . About 9000 of these were committed with a firearm. There was an estimated 2,000,000 defensive gun uses in the same year. The problem we have is there is no central database of defensive gun uses. In any case, firearms are used far more often for defensive purposes than offensive.

There are some 300 million privately-owned firearms in the United States. Firearms cause (all causes) about 37,000 deaths each year. The largest number are suicides (19,000+), followed by homicides (14,000+) and accidents (500+).
Gun control activists love big numbers so they like to add those together and shove that number at anyone they see.

To get some perspective, let’s look at some other causes of death. Motor vehicles (38,000+) or non-transport accidents (88,000+). Guns are no more dangerous – and often far less so – than other causes of death. While it’s true that an available gun will most commonly be used in a suicide, where no gun is available suicides are still happening. There is no connection between firearms and suicide rates.

MYTH: If we get rid of all guns, people will stop killing each other. Places that ban guns have no homicides.

TRUTH: These are the “Utopia” arguments. Lets get rid of guns and somehow everyone will stop being violent and live happily ever after. This is usually found with progressive liberals who tend to be out of touch with reality.
The truth is, technology prevails. We can’t dis-invent things. There is no way to make guns or anything else just disappear.

The gun control argument here fails to take history into account. People are violent. People kill people. That isn’t going to change until human nature changes. Millions of humans were killed before the invention of gunpowder.

We have seen that where guns are banned, homicides still occur, just with other weapons. Look at England and Australia. China is actually about to institute “knife control“.

If you are confronted with this argument by a progressive liberal…just walk away….there is no hope.

MYTH: The founders didn’t intend for individuals to have guns; the 2nd Amendment means the National Guard; there is no individual right to carry a gun; we need to repeal the Second Amendment, its out of date, etc.

TRUTH: These are the “we hate that you have a right” arguments. Gun control activists can’t abide the Second Amendment. They close their eyes at night and wish it would just go away. After years of debate, the Heller and McDonald cases finally declared that citizens do indeed have a right to keep and bear arms.

One of the big arguments you will hear is that the founders used flintlock rifles so that’s what they intended to protect. This is insane on its face. First, they were protecting a right, a concept or a specific piece of hardware. Second, they also didn’t have the internet, video, audio or any other common communication media. Does that mean the First Amendment only protects the printed word?

This is a weak argument that is easily countered. Point out that to any sensible person you talk to, the Second Amendment was designed to protect the rest of the amendments. Take away one, you lose them all.

MYTH: Loose gun laws, fewer gun laws, open carry, concealed carry…any carry will only cause more killings, blood will flow in the streets, etc.

TRUTH: This is the “OMG, we’re all gonna die!” argument. Another fear tactic, this one is baseless and anyone who believes is probably not too smart.

The easiest way to defeat this one is to demand proof. Tell them to show you where any of that is happening. Point out that most of the blood is flowing in gun control utopias like Chicago. The fact is carry permit holders are among the law abiding folks in the country.

Again, you probably won’t convert a hard core gun control activist, but might might sway a few from their propaganda. Just keep it simple, smile, stay calm and use facts. Gun control fools hate facts.

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52 Responses to Countering the Myths: Notes From a Foot Soldier in the Fight for Gun Rights

  1. For many of the antis, particularly those in power, it’s about control. But for others, particularly the ones I encounter (and/or are related to…..) it’s purely about fear. Irrational fear and a Pollyanna-ish refusal to believe that evil people exist results in assigning the fear to a symbol (firearms). Much like the horror and revulsion many associate with a Swastika. (note: not defending Swastikas)

    Once the connection is made, the “reasonable conversation” the antis keep asking for is impossible — for them.

  2. I live in upstate NY. I can’t say I’ve come across a person who is pro gun control. I think the only ones are in the media and congress. But then I tend to stay away from big cities.

    • I spent some time growing up in Upstate NY (the real Upstate, not Westchester County) – and most people I knew had hunting rifles and pistols. It just wasn’t a big deal.

    • First time I was introduced to guns (a .22 rifle that I can’t recall the make or model) was at a family friend’s house up by Lake George. The next time was during a skiing trip up in the Catskills; shot my first BB gun. The next time was at scout camp up by the Finger Lakes. It is much different Upstate. Too bad the state is at the mercy of NYC; there really are some beautiful places up there.

  3. Don’t forget the classic “Gun owners are/The NRA is racist” line. That’s the final line of “defense” from a progressive-statist anti-gun zealot. At that point, just roll your eyes, chuckle and walk away.

    • You probably should chuckle and walk away but, you don’t have to. Countless parallels can be drawn that gun control is racist. The strongest measures of gun control are usually centered on the poorest areas leaving minorities ready victims unable to protect themselves.

      • The first gun control laws were put in place to deny free Blacks the right to keep and bear firearms. There’s a long history of using gun control laws against “minorities” to keep them “in line”. Read “The Racist Roots of Gun Control” for a well thought out analysis of the history of Gun Control in America.

        • You are both correct, gun control has it’s roots in the south after the civil war, as the blacks gained their freedom the whites continued to try and keep them down. In fact, the Dred Scott case clearly mentions the individual right to own a firearm as you travel (not the collective or militia right as the anti’s will tell you the 2nd covers):

          “If African Americans were citizens, observed Chief Justice Taney in Dred Scott v. Sandford,[1] “it would give to persons of the negro race … the full liberty of speech …; to hold public meetings upon political affairs, and to keep and carry arms wherever they went.””

          After suggesting to an anti that gun control is racist, you might follow up with a peek around their back and ask them where they are hiding their hood!

  4. The mass shooting with the most casualties in the US was committed with handguns with 10 round mags, that usually shuts up the capacity morons.

    • Clearly we need to ban any magazine with a capacity of ten rounds or less, and insist that people carry only larger-capacity magazines. /sarc

      • Perfect! the longer the mag is, the better leverage you can get when grabbing the gun by the mag to take the SOB down! The increased weight will also tire the perp faster!

        I think you’re really onto something….

  5. In the interest of total honesty and bettering our own arguments, we should have an article on pro gun myths and fake quotes as well. There are a good number of those floating around too. If I had a nickel for every time I heard the “rifle behind every blade of grass” quote which has no legitimate source…

    • What?
      While the statement may not be historically attributable to a Japanese Admiral,it does not prove he didn’t say it.
      Neither does it make the statement any less relevant.
      Most of your “quotes”‘ at least in recent history were written by a ghost writer , not the man they are attributed to.
      A good quote is a good quote, who cares who the author was.

    • Even if this quote can’t be connected to Admiral Yamamoto, it still rings true. At least for the foreseeable future.

  6. When I’ve debated a gun control advocate; after I’ve pretty much destroyed their “reasonings” for gun control; every single time; they say they don’t want guns available because they fear what they would do if they had a gun in hand.

    They really believe they will turn into a homicidal maniac if they pick up a gun.

    I can speak from personal experience, because I was brainwashed with this belief by my West Coast, Bay Area very liberal/progressive environment growing up.

    The only way for me to come to real ” common sense” about guns and that real “gun control” means using two hands is by a human predator trying severely injure or kill me.

    So when talking to a gun control advocate; be respectful, as long as they are. If they are derogatory, hateful or just plain mean; they’re a lost cause, just walk away. But if you can through fact, logic and example, you might bring them to the same place of the real truth of things, that they are really scared of themselves. Then there is the beginning for them of seeing the real motivation for their fear of an inanimate object.

    Then I ask them, “well, have you ever tried killing someone with a knife, bat, car, chair, own or any other sharp or blunt object because they made you angry”, “no”, “then you won’t just because you have a gun.”
    Then I talk about how CC people are even more law abiding than cops.

    Afterward, I like to think that I’ve at least started the process to bring them back from the darkness of the lies that they believe as truth.

    • ^^THIS^^

      My 1+ hour(each way) commute to and from work is often filled with things that just flat out piss me off, and make me see red. However, my GLOCK has yet to be pulled from it’s holster, until I get home to change clothes.

    • Nice post. And always remember these are rights were talking about, regardless how many of us have been conditioned to accept gun ownership as a privilege. Rights cannot be voted away, democracy or not. Plus how many in our military have died over the decades defending our rights? The 2A is one those rights those men and women died for.

  7. Honestly I’ve found that with most “brainwashed moderates” (I prefer to call them “neutral anti’s) that all it takes to get the gears in their head turning is to point out one or two myths that involve politicians lying (such as pointing out one or two terms that they use incorrectly to decieve people or my personal favorite, waiting for them to refer to a .223 rifle as “high-powered” then hand them a .223 and a .30-06 round while mentioning how popular the latter is for hunting; even if they don’t know crap about ballistics one look at the two side by side makes it clear to them which one is meaner). It doesn’t convert them overnight, but it does make them much more questioning of whatever is put in front of them by anti-gun politicians and pundits once they understand “this person lied to me about guns before, why should I believe them now?” A lot of the time all it takes is one crack in the shell.

    • After showing them the .223 and the 30-06 rounds, mention that the latter is fired through an M1-Garand, a model in the class called a “battle rifle”. It’s sold mail-order by an unlicensed dealer which is a not-for-profit entity chartered by Congress. That ought to get their boxers-in-a-bunch.

  8. Excellent breakdown, it covers all the common arguments that get tossed around. By the time you get through them all with an anti-gun person, you’ll either have given them a lot to think about, and maybe softened their stance, or you’ll get “Well, I just don’t like guns.” at the end. Depends on how intellectually honest they are.

    Couple things:

    “…a problem that warrants laws that affect 300 million law-abiding gun owners.”

    That number seems really high. There’s no way there are 300 million gun owners in America.

    “First, they were protecting a right, a concept or a specific piece of hardware.”

    This sentence seems like it’s missing a word or two, perhaps a “not”?

  9. Excellent article.
    I also like to point out the blatant hypocrisy of what I call the “save the children” morons. They’re so concerned with keeping children safe from guns but they willfully ignore everything else that take the lives of children. If they’re that concerned then they would certainly have to have their vehicles crushed at the nearest junk yard to prevent them from taking another life. Whoa…. that’s just going too far! How will I get to the mall!?
    With everything their is a risk vs. reward viewpoint. These morons refuse to recognize the benefits of firearms and condemn them on the minority of their risk. They’re more than willing to ignore the risks of automobiles in favor of their own convenience. They’re more than willing to stand up for the freedom to consume alcohol to the point of compromising their judgement abilities and then having the freedom to choose to operate a vehicle. They’ll give ANYONE that choice.

    • That’s the catch, we have been propagandized into the good for the children mindset, all the while accepting and doing many things that are possibly dangerous to our children because they are poiiticLly correct.

    • The “save the Children” argument, put forth by Obama himself, is another fear argument. They know that most Americans don’t fact check anything.
      The gun grabbers don’t have any real argument, so propaganda is their only tool. We have to change and correct the impression and perception that the antis have pushed of who owns guns.

  10. Just keep it simple, smile, stay calm and use facts. Gun control fools hate facts.

    …and don’t shout, insult them, act rude, or flip out. Keeps those f-bombs to a minimum folks.

  11. Some clarification is needed.

    In the second “TRUTH” paragraph of myth “Guns are used more often in crime than self defense.”, you state (FBI-UCR) that about 9,000 of the 14,287 homicides in the US were committed with a firearm.
    In the next paragraph, you state that of the 37,000 deaths that firearms “caused” [I prefer the term “were used in”], some 14,000+ were actual homicides. The first statistic (9K/14.3K) is from the FBI-UCR; the second has no citation, and I believe is probably incorrect.

    Second, we need a source for “firearms used in a crime”, which in some ways is a better comparison to the ~2,000,000 uses of firearms in self-defense. However, neither statistic is available, that I know of. That said, there is little doubt that most firearms owners use firearms in self defense much more often than they use them in criminal activity.

    • I am almost positive that the statistics for firearms used in crime are part of the UCR. If I recall correctly, the UCR puts the number around 340,000 per year.

    • Its the difference between the FBI UCR reporting system which is sourced from law enforcement and the CDC data sheets which are sourced from hospitals and heathcare providers.

      Unfortunately there is no spot in the UCR for defensive gun use. That is usually part of the incident narrative if the incident is reported. Gary Kleck did a study in the 80’s but there is nothing newer that has good numbers.

  12. As a convert to the cause, I think the most important bit of advice is this: don’t be a jerk.

    It’s something that people tend to overlook about themselves, particularly when it comes to a cause that hits close to home: your own mannerisms and behavior often count for as much (if not more) than your actual arguments.

    One of the reasons for my conversion was my own irritation at the histrionics coming from the antis vs. the generally more measured tones coming from the gun owners. Despite a lifetime of conditioning the other way, it made me more skeptical of the claims made by the antis, and more inclined to listen to the pros. Waving the bloody shirt made me despise the side doing the waving.

    No matter how crazy the antis get, don’t ever lose your cool. If you expect someone toreconsider an assumption that they’ve held so long they never even realized it was an assumption, you have to get them to be want to think about it. Be nice. Polite. Smile. And then destroy them with logic, not pleas from the heart.

    • George, thanks that is very good feedback.

      I read someplace, I think on JPFO, some very good advice from a wise man about how to speak to a fearful person, and it wasnt effective to beat them up with facts, or worse- to get angry- that just triggers more of the fight/flight response that motivates them in the first place.

      Gentleness, patience, listening- finding a way to connect to their fear with something positive to show them how to be in charge of it… I’ll find it, or more likely, someone here has a better explanation.

      But definitely- dont lose your cool. You just perpetuate the angry OFWG myth.

  13. Clarification question.

    In the “guns are evil” myth, the response first says

    “In 2012 there were 14,287 homicides in the United States. ( FBI-UCR ) . About 9000 of these were committed with a firearm.”

    The next paragraph includes

    “Firearms cause (all causes) about 37,000 deaths each year. The largest number are suicides (19,000+), followed by homicides (14,000+) and accidents (500+).”

    So there is an apparent discrepancy – the second paragraph would imply that all of the 14k homicides noted in the first paragraph are done with firearms, not ~2/3. Alternately, since we know not all homicides are committed with a firearm, are there more like 20k homicides in an average year?

  14. “To get some perspective, let’s look at some other causes of death. Motor vehicles (38,000+) or non-transport accidents (88,000+)….”

    And let’s not forget the 98,000 deaths caused each year by PREVENTABLE medical mistakes, in hospitals and other health care venues. Wonder why the CDC never highlights this appalling statistic?

  15. “If you are confronted with this argument by a progressive liberal…just walk away….there is no hope.”

    How do you recommend handling it if that progressive liberal is your wife?

  16. I’ve given up on debating the gun-control die-shards directly.

    Rather, at least online, I go in with the expectation that I’m educating the 20 or more lurkers who are curious about this “gun-control” thing and never leave a comment, but are curious to see what others are thinking. In that case my goal is to either expose how crazy the gun-control advocates are, or directly dispel the gun-control advocates twitter “facts”.

    • It depends on how far gone they are. If they’ve drunk the whole pitcher of Kool-Aid, you’re right. But lots of “antis” are really just people who have been conditioned to think guns are bad, and haven’t ever given it any critical thought. The fake facts the anti-freedom establishment has been spewing for decades “feel” true enough to them that they don’t think about it closely. If you can engage such a person in a civil way and logically break down a few of the false assumptions they’ve been fed, often you can start the process of rebuilding them into a functional human being.

      The trick is to know when you’ve started that first crack, and then back off. If you push too hard, human nature is to push back. So you want to look for the sign that you’ve introduced doubt, and change the subject. Come back to it later and chip away at that first crack in the wall, and you can get through. You can’t convert an anti-2A person to a pro-2A in one conversation, unless that conversation takes place in a dark alley and starts with “Gimme all your money, or I’ll kill you.”

  17. Correction for posterity and accuracy:

    100 million gun owners and 300 million firearms in the US.

    I know you knew that. I wish there were 300 million gun owners in the US.

  18. For a truly “hard core” grabber, I toss any hope of a CTJ moment right out of the window and skip straight to the crazy eyes;

    “So you’re okay with people owning nuclear weapons?”
    “Well,… it WOULD stop tyranny….”

    “How many more people have to die before we do something?!”
    “Well… all of them, if they’re coming for my guns.”

    “Europe has one one zillionth of the gun crime that the US has.”
    “Yeah, we should invade now while they’re not looking.”

    “No one NEEDS a thirty round per half second magazine clip.”
    (in best Charles Bronson voice) “Yeah, I’ve only ever NEEDED 20…”

    “2a only covers the militia.”
    “Yep, every 18 year old boy and girl (especially YOURS) should be forced to serve
    in the military so they can learn to use a gun.”

    “Gun control will decrease the suicide rate!”
    “Well, maybe, but do we really WANT those whiny little metrosexuals
    lingering around, breathing our air?”

    Who the hell cares what a person like this thinks about our arguments? Better to let one like that know, in no uncertain terms, that they face an opponent just as vicious and unyielding as they could ever be.

  19. “It’s tragic, but it’s hardly a problem that warrants laws that affect 300 million law-abiding gun owners”

    This statement is factually incorrect and needs to be revised. There are approximately 80 million gun owners in the U.S., not 300 million. Most of the 80 million are “law abiding”, but not all.

  20. To the last point:

    “MYTH: Loose gun laws, fewer gun laws, open carry, concealed carry…any carry will only cause more killings, blood will flow in the streets, etc.”

    If we can’t prove that some 2 million crimes are stopped by those of us who carry guns…

    “There was an estimated 2,000,000 defensive gun uses in the same year. The problem we have is there is no central database of defensive gun uses. In any case, firearms are used far more often for defensive purposes than offensive.”

    …how can we demand they prove their myth? That’s a slippery slope we want to avoid.

  21. Two points:
    1. The worst school massacre in US history was the Bath school bombing in 1927 in Bath, Michigan. No guns were used.
    2. The US ranks around 30th in the world on suicide rate, with a much lower rate than many disarmed countries such as Russia.

  22. Thanks Sgt Hayes.

    For the committed, ie religious anti-gun nut, there isnt much hope. As you say, they are arguing from an emotional position, and for you to question with facts that is not taken as constructive criticism, logic or anything but an emotional negation- in their world- if you dont “feel” as they do, you must be a bad person.

    I wish I could find the article- buried in the archives here- http://jpfo.org/filegen-a-m/commentary.htm

    by a rabbi- who suggested that working to calm that person and their fears, by listening, and being understanding, and finding ways to positively address those underlying fears, was a more successful, but it took time, and doesnt work all the time.

    This rabbi has claimed taking people to the range works best- but again, it takes a lot of time, and not everyone will take you up on the offer.

    http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/01/28/this-orthodox-jewish-rabbi-is-an-nra-instructor-who-believes-jews-should-know-how-to-shoot-a-gun/

  23. Actually, there is a counter to the argument “if guns are banned, it will reduce the rates of homicides and suicides.” A metastudy (an analysis of the data from multiple studies) was done at Harvard Law, and it found that banning firearms had no impact on the rates of either homicides or suicides. This is the last paragraph of the study, that I’ve linked to below:

    “Over a decade ago, Professor Brandon Centerwall of the University of Washington undertook an extensive, statistically sophisticated study comparing areas in the United States and Canada to determine whether Canada’s more restrictive policies had better contained criminal violence. When he published his results it was
    with the admonition:

    ” ‘If you are surprised by [our] finding[s], so [are we]. [We] did not begin this research with any intent to “exonerate” handguns, but there it is—a negative finding, to be sure, but a negative finding is nevertheless a positive contribution. It directs us where not to aim public health resources.’ ”

    http://www.law.harvard.edu/students/orgs/jlpp/Vol30_No2_KatesMauseronline.pdf

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