By Rob Morse
It’s hard to fool an honest man or woman who wants to know the truth. Unfortunately, many of us depend on the media to bring us much of our news, and lying to us — or withholding key parts of the story — today makes it easier to fool us tomorrow.
Most of us feel horrible when we see news stories about violent crime. Beyond the emotional shock of the story, though, we are seldom told what the story means. Is that newsworthy event a common problem or is it rare? Are there good solutions that make us safer most of the time?
Besides the violence shown in movies and TV dramas, it’s almost as if the news deliberately keeps us in the dark about real violence and its causes. We can’t make good choices unless we have perspective. For a minute, let’s shed some light on the reality of armed citizens and guns.
We’re told that guns cause crime. That’s odd because a lot of criminals didn’t seem to have gotten the memo. Only one out of twelve violent crimes are committed with a firearm. If someone says they need to disarm honest people in order to stop violent crime, they are going to leave about 92 percent of those violent crimes untouched. No wonder gun control laws don’t make us any safer.
If guns cause crime, then honest gun owners haven’t gotten the message either. Ordinary citizens like us own a lot of guns. About 40 percent of Americans live with a gun in our homes and we own hundreds of millions of firearms that are never used in crimes.
These are the guns you never seem to hear about. The news media don’t want to admit that firearms are ordinary tools that a huge portion of Americans lawfully own and use on a daily basis.
Gun ownership makes a significant difference in our lives. The news media almost never mention it beyond discreet instances, but armed self-defense by lawful gun owners is incredibly common. We use firearms in legally justified self-defense about 4500 times a day.
Report after report from academic researchers to the US Centers for Disease Control have reported the same thing. Those self-defense events are as significant as an ordinary citizen being in the right place at the right time to stop a mass murder to something as common as a neighbor scaring away an intruder who broke in through her back door.
Before anyone says that breaking-and-entering is insignificant, remember that two-thirds of sexual assaults begin with a home invasion. Millions of us use a firearm to protect ourselves and those we love each year, most of the time without ever pulling a trigger.
We’re told — by all the smartest people — that if our neighbors are armed then they would turn the world into the wild west with indiscriminate shootings on the streets every day. Yet that isn’t what we see. The fact is that our neighbors are armed and have been for decades.
We know that about 20 million of us have concealed carry permits and half of the states don’t require a permit to carry a concealed firearm in public. About 17 million adults — about one in twelve of us — are armed in public every day.
Where we have records, we find that these armed citizens are more law-abiding than the police. They are also less likely to shoot the wrong person than the the typical cop on the beat. That’s another seldom-reported fact that doesn’t play well when your message is that only highly trained police officers should own and carry guns.
We are told that armed citizens are all too eager to engage in gunfights like something out of the OK Corral. We have to remember, though, that Hollywood dramas aren’t real. The truth is our armed neighbors are wonderfully reluctant to take a life. Lawful gun owners face millions of criminals a year yet they kill only a few hundred dangerous attackers in order to save themselves and other innocent lives.
In a strange coincidence, armed citizens and the police use lethal force to kill attackers almost exactly the same number of times each year. The great news is that criminals don’t want to be shot and they tend to run away about 80 percent of the time when they meet resistance from an armed victim. Our neighbors tend to stop shooting as soon as that happens. They then call the police and ask for help.
We’re told that we have to do something to stop the “epidemic of gun-violence” that is sweeping our country today. We are not told the murder rate was falling to a two decade low until the Covid lockdowns threw people out of work. But news media don’t mention that violence is highly localized and that most counties won’t have a single murder this year.
The breathless politicians don’t mention that violence is largely confined to our failed big cities. Or that two percent of our counties will account for half the murders in the United States.
Politicians use firearms and civilian gun ownership as excuses to paper over their failed policies and unkept political promises. But the mainstream media never mentions that. And they usually help them promote that narrative because they agree that Americans shouldn’t be allowed to own guns.
Most of us would never use a firearm in commission of a crime. If “gun violence” is an epidemic, then most of us are immune to it. The epidemic is misnamed and its virulence highly exaggerated. It is, in fact, criminals who spread violence, not honest gun owners.
We’re told that more gun control laws will stop these criminals from unlawfully using their illegally possessed guns. That almost makes sense the first time you hear it. Then you think about it for a few seconds and realize that gun control is a very old idea that’s failed time and time again.
We have over 23,000 firearms regulations on the books already — another thing you won’t hear about in the news — in this country and criminals break those laws every minute of every day. One of the reasons that gun control laws don’t work is that gun control only disarms law-abiding good guys, leaving the bad guys who break those laws pretty much alone. We have yet to see a county, a state, or a country make itself peaceful by disarming the good guys.
And fewer lawful gun owners will result in fewer instances of lawful defensive gun uses. That means more people victimized by criminals without the ability to defend themselves. When was the last time you heard about that outcome of more gun control laws in a news report?
It takes perspective to make good decisions. We need the news media to tell us about the lives that we save as well as the lives that criminals take with firearms. We need to know the whole story to understand if gun owner licensing, mandatory waiting periods, or “assault weapons” bans would do any good.
Will criminals obey “gun-free” zones or submit to background checks? Is a person who is having a mental health crisis still at risk after we take away her guns with “red flag” laws? Life is more complex than a Hollywood movie. The facts are out there. I’ve shared a few of them today. As we learn more about the whole story, we recognize when the news media is only telling us only half the truth.
This article originally appeared at Slow Facts and is reprinted here with permission.