Media outlets often peddle “reports” on firearm issues through a biased antigun lens. NBC News is out with a report detailing the “major wins” by the gun control movement over the past decade and completely ignores numerous countertrends in favor of lawful gun ownership during the same period, arguably more impactful and protective of Constitutional rights.
Surprising no one in the gun-owning or rights-supporting community, NBC makes their case by almost exclusively citing a report it “first obtained” from Giffords, the gun control group founded by former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.).
That’s hardly surprising. There’s an important story to tell about the American gun owner and changing gun laws, but the media mostly ignore it.
Public Opinion Shift
The Giffords report supplied to NBC notes there have been 525 “significant gun safety laws” passed at the state level over the past decade since the tragic Sandy Hook Elementary School murders of 27 innocent lives, mostly children, by a deranged individual who should never have been in possession of a firearm.
The report cites over that time, states have enacted community violence intervention laws, gun buying prohibitions based on domestic violence charges, so-called “red flag” measures that often deny due process rights, and laws that in some way expanded background checks, the FBI National Instant Criminal Background Check (NICS) verification required for a law-abiding American to complete the retail purchase of a firearm.
The report includes states that approved laws “making it more difficult for children and young adults to access firearms,” often raising the minimum age to purchase a long gun from 18, when Americans are adults and fully vested in all their Constitutional rights, to 21.
“The shift in public opinion has been hugely important to these changes,” said former Rep. Gabby Giffords.
U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) added, “Ten years ago, we set about the work of building an anti-gun-violence movement that would eventually be more powerful than the gun lobby. We’ve reached that point.”
There’s been a shift alright. But it hasn’t been because Americans have become more supportive of more gun control restrictions. Rather, it’s been an awakening by the most diverse gun owning and gun buying population in history embracing their Second Amendment rights and manifesting those rights at the gun store checkout counter.
Momentum For Rights
Over the past three years, historic numbers of Americans legally purchased a firearm. Between 2020-2021, nearly 40 million firearms were purchased by Americans at retail from all corners of the country, from all different backgrounds. Industry retailer survey data revealed roughly 33 percent of purchases were women, nearly two-in-five were first-time gun buyers in 2020, 30 percent were first-timers in 2021 and historic numbers of African Americans, Hispanic Americans and Asian Americans legally purchased firearms too, for recreational target shooting, hunting and self-defense.
So far in 2022, roughly 14,679,000 more industry-adjusted NICS checks were run for a gun purchase, marking 39 months in a row still of one million or more NICS checks for a gun purchase. That figure doesn’t include December’s total.
The People Have Spoken
Legislatively, states have largely moved towards embracing the Second Amendment and expanding the ability of law-abiding citizens to own and possess firearms. Yes, a few blue states with strict gun control restrictions have passed even more laws. Analysis by The Reload shows, though, how state legislatures moved toward protecting the rights of law-abiding citizens who have seen restrictive laws passed in the name of “safety” only to prove ineffective.
In 2021, the same year the Giffords report begins its data compilation, only four states – Alaska, Vermont, Wyoming and Nevada – had unrestricted right-to-carry laws on the books. There were also 37 “shall issue” concealed carry permit states.
There are now 25 states with unrestricted constitutional carry on the books and 17 “shall issue” states. In Florida, currently “shall issue,” Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has urged the state’s legislature to send him a constitutional carry bill to sign in the upcoming legislative session.
Public polling continues to show Americans’ support for stricter gun control is on the decline and not even a majority of Americans support a ban on modern sporting rifles (MSRs), the so-called “assault weapons ban” that is the perennial favorite of gun control efforts, including by President Joe Biden.
In the wake of the landmark Bruen decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that reaffirmed the Second Amendment is an individual right that may be exercised both in the home and in public, roughly 64 percent favor the Court’s decision.
There have been some bright spots where media is telling the new story of American gun ownership. But operating as a cheerleader for gun control while ignoring inconvenient facts that undermine that agenda — as NBC is doing — is journalistic malpractice. After all, the current story of the American gun owner is a great one.
Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.