What do most of us think about legal gun owners? In theory, legally armed Americans are just like anyone else. In practice, unarmed America views firearms owners with fear and distrust. The news and entertainment media built a false image of legal gun owners. These distortions leave honest gun owners as political scapegoats.
What does unarmed America think about guns?
Pew Research released recent reports describing the views of non-gun owners. Firearms owners are a minority of the US adult population. Distilling their impression from dozens of reports, the unarmed majority are afraid of guns and gun owners. The majority thinks armed America is dangerous. This shows in their personal and their political preferences.
Unarmed America thinks firearms education is essential. They think gun owners should take firearm safety classes. We never learn if unarmed America has actually studied gun safety themselves. Non-gun owners are so afraid of firearms that about half of them say they need to be told when they’ve unknowingly entered a gun owner’s home. They feel less safe if a gun in the home.
Unarmed America also has policy prescriptions for gun owners. People who don’t own guns think guns are easy to get and that criminals obey gun laws. They think more gun laws would change how criminals behave and would make us safer. Unarmed America thinks legal gun ownership actually enables violent crime and mass murder. That is the underlying attitude of the American majority.
Who taught unarmed America about legal gun owners?
Based on the Pew reports, unarmed Americans who live in rural areas actually have friends who own guns. They know gun owners and have used firearms themselves. In contrast, urban unarmed Americans don’t have friends who own guns. Despite the claim of a richer and more diverse social network in an urban setting, unarmed Americans in our cities have segregated themselves. They don’t meet and socialize with their armed neighbors.
Without real world experience, where does unarmed America learn about firearms? Their perception of armed America comes from the news and entertainment media. Consider what they see and hear.
The news shows them on a daily basis that gangs use guns for both intimidation and violence. Unarmed America is unaware that honest gun owners use a firearm in self-defense far more often than guns are used in criminal activity. The majority never hears about the thousands of law abiding gun owners who defend themselves and their families every day. In their perception, it never happens.
Unarmed Americans know that terrorists and mass rampage murderers use guns to hurt large numbers of people. These events are heavily covered in the news. Unarmed America doesn’t hear about the mass murders that were stopped by honest gun owners.
Going a step further, we’ve now demonized the police. This means that the majority of Americans never see legally owned firearms used to defend the innocent. These distorted news reports inform the majority view.
The entertainment media reads from the same script. There are lots of police and crime shows on broadcast TV and cable channels. These dramas seldom show an honest and competent gun owner preventing a crime. That plot line doesn’t make a compelling 40-minute drama. The recurring characters must have the spotlight and save the day. Reality simply doesn’t make good art. For dozens of hours every week, the majority of us sees criminals use guns, while honest gun owners are portrayed in a negative light if they are shown at all. We would call it propaganda if it were done deliberately. The result is that legal gun owners and unarmed America live in different worlds.
What does this mean for legal gun owners?
The majority of US citizens see legally armed America as part of the violence problem. They think disarming legal gun owners is a solution to urban violence.
Armed America is demonized, deliberately alienated, and blamed for the violence in our cities despite the fact that licensed gun owners are the most law abiding and least violent segment of society. This bigotry comes from misperception, and perhaps from frustration with failed urban politics. The majority responds to what it sees, and what is sees is a deliberate manipulation of reality. This distortion plays into the hands of partisan politicians.
A minority of Democrats own guns. Hillary Clinton confirmed that segregation when she publicly identified the NRA as her political enemy. The media bias from our liberal urban media centers promotes that viewpoint, both explicitly and tacitly. A majority of US adults agree.
It is only a matter of time before a Democrat/Socialist/Progressive politician used his political position to exploit that bigotry against armed America. In the meantime, what are honest firearms owners going to do to change that perception?
Image: Excerpted from: http://flickr.com/photos/glasgows/ – http://flickr.com/photos/glasgows/432945997/, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1984182