More people own guns today than ever before. That growth is a continuation of a long term trend that goes back several decades. In addition to that gradual increase, we’ve also seen an extraordinary growth in new gun buyers in the last two years. We had to rewrite who owns guns and why they own them. Today, about four-out-of-ten families have a firearm in their home. Despite the astounding changes in gun ownership, the way some politicians talk about guns and gun owners is out of date. New gun owners are subjected to a crash course in being misperceived and misrepresented by politicians and by the mainstream news media alike.
What is real and what is fantasy?
Sitting President, Joe Biden, echoed old myths about gun owners at a fundraising event in June. He said,
“More people get killed with their own gun in their home trying to stop a burglar than, in fact, any other cause.. Think about that. Because it’s hard to do. It’s a hard thing to do.”
Mayor John Fetterman, the Democrat candidate for the US Senate from Pennsylvania, also felt the need to comment on guns and gun ownership. He said,
“I have seen with my own eyes at the scenes in my community what a military grade round does to the human body.” He said that rifles, particularly modern rifles, should be outlawed.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul said,
“This whole concept that a good guy with a gun will stop the bad guys with a gun, it doesn’t hold up. And the data bears this out, so that theory is over.”
Those statements don’t fit what we know. We know a lot about new gun owners because we talked with them. Gun stores asked new gun owners why they wanted a gun so the gun shop employee could direct the customer to the appropriate products. The industry trade group representing firearms manufacturers and distributors collected those answers. The stereotypical gun owner used to be an old white man who bought a gun to go hunting. Several years ago, personal safety replaced hunting as the major reason new gun owners buy a firearm. Today, gun owners are from every demographic group; male and female, rich and poor, urban and rural. Gun owners represent every ethnic and racial group. About one-out-of-four African-American adults own a firearm. It seems strange that the mainstream media and politicians have deliberately ignored that change.
We saw firearms ownership increase for many reasons. Concealed carry of a personal firearm is now common in all but a handful of states. Not only are tens of millions of us licensed to carry a personal firearm in public, but we exercise those permits on a daily basis. Today, about one-out-of-a-dozen adults carry a firearm in public when and where it is legally permissible to do so. We also stop most attempted mass murders when the government allows us to carry our firearms. Good men and women, ordinary civilians, use a firearm to protect themselves and their families more than four thousand times a day. Excluding some politicians, more and more of us have come to the conclusion that armed defense works.
Another reason for increased gun ownership is the unusual increase in crime we’ve seen in the last few years. Our judicial system stopped removing repeat criminals from society during the Covid lockdowns. The resulting increase in crime touched our families and friends. Many of us discovered that the police will not be there to protect us. Millions of us responded by buying a firearm and protecting ourselves.
We should probably add a third factor that increased the rate of firearms ownership. The Covid lockdowns reduced the time we could spend with friends and extended family. We spent more time looking at our computers and our phones. During the lockdowns, the news media had a larger influence on our perception of what is happening in the world around us. In order to deliver viewers to their declining list of advertisers, the news media fed us a concentrated diet of sensationalized crime reports. It is true that crime increased in the last few years but the tiny screens brought crime to where we live as never before. In combination, factors like these significantly increased both the number and diversity of legal firearms owners.
We defend ourselves with a firearm between 1.7 and 2.5 million times a year. 44 percent of black gun owners reported using their firearm to defend themselves or their family. Many of us know someone who used a firearm in self-defense. In contrast, I never heard the mainstream media correct President Biden’s statement that our guns kill more of us than they save. That leaves our personal experience in direct contradiction with the President’s claim and the media’s twisted narrative about gun owners.
Mayor Fetterman’s claim sounds strange to me as well. Looking at our history, even the ubiquitous 9mm handgun cartridge was first carried as a military round. Today, the 9mm is the most common handgun cartridge carried by both law enforcement and civilians.
When a policeman is carrying it, the modern rifle is called a “personal defense weapon” or a “patrol rifle.” The same gun made out of metal and plastic is relabeled by anti-gun politicians as an “assault rifle” and a “military grade weapon” when our neighbors own one. The modern rifle is called a “weapon of war” despite the fact that no modern military branch would field the semi-automatic rifles that US civilians are allowed to own today. Today’s military rifles are capable of automatic fire, and ours are not.
Fetterman’s gun-confiscation proposal might make some sense if we only looked at one side of the argument. Fetterman deliberately ignored the hundred-thousand-times a year that long-guns were used in armed defense. We have about 25-million modern rifles in civilian hands here in the US. If these gun owners were a problem to society then we would surely know it. Modern rifles save many more lives than they cost, but that isn’t what we see on the television.
The news media sells us sensationalized stories and leaves out the additional facts that put violence into perspective. About four times as many people are killed with knives than are killed with rifles each year. Drowning kills ten times more people each year than die from “assault weapons”. According to FBI homicide statistics, more people were killed with hands and feet than were killed with a long-gun of any kind.
We agree that violent crime is shocking, but the mainstream news media never called out the distortions of these anti-gun politicians. The media often reports when a criminal uses a firearm. In contrast, the media seldom reports when our neighbors use their legally owned firearm to stop a crime.
For each time that a major US media outlet mentions an armed citizen using a legally owned firearm to save lives, the media runs hundreds of stories where criminals used a gun. That media bias turn the world upside down. In fact, armed defense is several times more common than a criminal using a firearm during the commission of a crime. This deliberate editorial policy misrepresents the news of armed defense by a factor of over a thousand-to-one. That is why we think that mass murder is common and that armed defense is rare.
If you only know what you’re told by the mainstream press, then you might believe the gun-control politicians too. One hint is that many Democrat politicians own guns even as they vote for ever more gun-control laws to disarm the rest of us.
The stereotype of gun owners is a lie. The media calls us male-pale-and-stale, and who cares if old white men are disarmed anyway. In fact, gun owners now look like a cross section of the USA. Minority urban women are the fastest growing segment of new gun owners. I think Democrat politicians are afraid that more women and minorities will decide to become gun owners. These new gun owners might enter the culture of armed america and protect themselves.
That fear keeps Democrat politicians up at night.
I gave you 1300 of my best words. Please share them with a friend. RM