Most Americans believe that people have a right to self-defense. Most Americans believe that a firearm is an effective tool for self-defense. Which is why most Americans support the right to keep and bear arms. There are other reasons why some Americans are pro-gun (e.g., defense against tyranny and hunting) but armed self-defense is the thing. Which is why gun control advocates will do and say anything to undermine the idea that guns save lives. Proponents of civilian disarmament like the alliterative Marvin Meadows (above) . . .
Mr. Meadors has penned an anti-pistol polemic entitled Guns Are Killing People and It is Not The “Bad Guys” Getting Killed: More NRA Propaganda Exposed! The HuffPo headline is accurate enough — at least in terms of Mr. Meadors’ mission. The self-professed accountant, political commentator and chess enthusiast presents readers with an anti-gun agitprop three-fer: guns kill people (all on their own!), defensive gun use is a myth and the NRA is evil.
If you need someone to cook the books for your business, Marvin Meadow’s your man. Check out the way he manipulates numbers to discount the frequency — and thus importance — of Americans who’ve utilized armed self-defense . . .
One of the biggest myths of the NRA and gun advocates is that guns are critical for self-protection and the saying goes that all that is necessary to ward off an attack of a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. The NRA likes to frame things in this dichotomy of “good vs. evil” creating a simplification of reality very appealing to conservatives. In doing so they neglect the accidents which are all too common like the recent incident in which a two-year-old found the gun of his mother’s boyfriend under a car seat and accidentally shot his mother in the back killing her.
Well, even the myth of guns being used frequently for defensive purposes turns out to be another falsehood. According to a recent study by the Violence Policy Center (VPC) citing data collected by the Federal Bureau of Investigation:
In 2012, across the nation there were only 259 justifiable homicides involving a private citizen using a firearm reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program as detailed in its Supplementary Homicide Report (SHR).
That same year, there were 8,342 criminal gun homicides tallied in the SHR. In 2012, for every justifiable homicide in the United States involving a gun, guns were used in 32 criminal homicides. And this ratio, of course, does not take into account the tens of thousands of lives ended in gun suicides or unintentional shootings that year.
Mr. Meadors is only counting justifiable homicides as defensive gun uses. That’s like counting fatal car crashes to estimate the number of automotive accidents. Any incident where an innocent person brandishes a firearm to defend themselves against rape, robbery and/or physical attack — regardless of whether or not a single shot’s fired — is a defensive gun use (DGU).
Clayton Cramer’s paper Why the FBI’s Justifiable Homicide Statistics Are a Misleading Measure of Defensive Gun Use does an excellent job of skewering gun control advocates like Mr. Meadors, anti-gun rights crusaders who seek to “debunk” both the efficacy and frequency of DGUs for personal protection.
Using the correct definition, the most conservative DGU estimate pegs the number at 55k per year. That’s about 151 DGU’s per day. Not that the right to keep and bear arms is subject to arguments about social utility, but the FBI recorded 11,961 firearms-related homicides in 2014. That’s roughly 33 per day. Even without considering higher estimates of annual DGUs (as many as 1 million or more), or the fact that most of those homicides were criminal-on-criminal (criminal lives matter!), private gun ownership is an indisputable net positive for society.
[Note: gun control advocates always lump in firearms-related suicides with firearms-related homicides to inflate the number of Americans killed by “gun violence.” As Mr. Meadors’ article focused on homicides, I’ve left suicides out of the equation. Even if you add them in, though, the most conservative estimate of DGU’s still outpace firearms homicides by a significant margin.]
Knocking down the myths of the NRA such as the number of the defensive gun uses will not convince gun advocates and conservative politicians bankrolled by the NRA to change their minds about passing sensible gun legislation. They can not be convinced and the far right largely lives in a post-truth environment anyway where there is no objective reality and whatever one believes is the truth becomes the truth. But with defensive gun uses being so rare one wonders if the ubiquity of hand guns is necessary. It is interesting in an very Orwellian way how the NRA controls not only the politicians who block sensible gun legislation, but the very reality we live in by controlling the information on gun violence we have access to. Surely, the right wing wants us to adopt this post-truth environment they have long become accustomed to. No thanks!
The NRA and the far right don’t know the truth about guns? As you’d expect from a proponent of civilian disarmament (seeking to reduce the “ubiquity” of privately-held handguns to zero), Mr. Meadors has it exactly backwards.