Imagine how proud we were to find ourselves included in this paranoid, anti-gun screed published by the far left Center for American Progress. They decry what they call strategic propaganda designed to convince Americans that they need to own firearms, instilling feelings of fear and insecurity in hapless, impressionable consumers.
This, they say, is despite “evidence-based research” that reveals guns aren’t really an effective means of self-defense. Yet they see no contradiction in making that claim while noting our (almost daily) Defensive Gun Use of the Day posts.
The mind of the hoplophobe is a puzzling riddle wrapped in a baffling mystery inside an impenetrable enigma.
Individual gun ownership is a deeply entrenched cultural tradition in parts of the United States. Through strategic lobbying efforts launched primarily by the National Rifle Association (NRA) in the late 20th century, the gun industry has sought to exploit the intersection of gun ownership and cultural tradition by developing an insidious narrative portraying any regulation of firearms as an attack on freedom. Their efforts have given rise to the so-called gun rights movement.15
By deploying strategic propaganda campaigns, discussing impending hypothetical attacks from terrorist organizations, or using singular acts of violence perpetrated by undocumented immigrants to suggest a population-level threat,16 the gun lobby has been able to seize on fear and insecurities across the United States. Many people now rely on firearm ownership as a reaction to a gun industry-constructed doomsday scenario.17 The industry has created a false narrative that people are always at risk of violent attack and offers up a simple yet deeply flawed solution: Buy a firearm to protect yourself and your family.18
This messaging runs in stark contrast to the bulk of the evidence-based research that has been conducted on the topic, which finds that firearms are not an effective means of self-defense. In fact, academic studies show that having firearms in the home correlate with an increase in unintentional shootings, often involving children, as well as higher rates of firearm suicides.19 Research also indicates that firearms used to perpetrate school shootings most often come from the shooter’s home, where they are stored under the pretense of self-defense.20
The idea that civilians need to be armed to ward off bad actors—the “good guy with a gun” concept painted by the gun lobby—does not represent reality. FBI data show that armed civilians rarely stop armed assailants and instead only make it harder for law enforcement to secure the scene of a shooting.21
While the gun lobby was establishing a narrative creating an environment of fear and constant risk, the gun industry was launching marketing campaigns to sell their deadly products. To complement the fear-based narrative pushed by the gun lobby, the industry marketed certain weapons specifically as self-defense products. Glock, for example, has a search filter for their website specifically for firearms designed for home defense,22 and Remington sells a series of guns marked as “Home Defense Models.”23
The principle marketing tool to sell hollow-tip ammunition—which is designed to expand on impact, increasing damage to the person shot and reducing the risk of overpenetration—is to brand them as self-defense ammo or personal-defense ammo.24
The gun lobby’s efforts extend beyond the commercial market; some of the gun lobby’s most pernicious pieces of propaganda are seized upon and perpetuated organically by members of the so-called gun rights community. Gun rights advocates convene regularly online to discuss different aspects of firearms and accessories in addition to regularly using forums to spread gun lobby myths and propaganda.25
The idea of needing a gun to protect against home invasions is perpetuated across self-described gun enthusiast websites such as The Truth About Guns, which has a daily posting called “Defensive Gun Use of the Day.”26 The posts detail incidents where a gun owner was attacked, most often in their home, and how their ability to seize a firearm and act swiftly in self-defense prevented them from being harmed by the attackers. Another popular site, The Carry Academy, features information about carrying firearms for self-defense, including reviews of firearms deemed to be most effective against intruders.27
– Rukmani Bahtia in Untangling the Gun Lobby’s Web of Self-Defense and Human Rights