Debunking Some Popular Media Myths on Guns

Debunking Some Popular Media Myths on Guns


This article ran on on December 21st, 2012

The press is engaged in a furious feeding frenzy in the wake of the tragic shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. And talk show hosts like Piers Morgan have resorted to insulting their guests when they can’t counter their arguments. You’ll need to watch Morgan’s debate with GOA’s Executive Director to believe it.

Time and again, the “old guard” media is demonstrating that it can’t shoot straight when it comes to reporting the news and is guilty of peddling several worn-out myths.

Myth #1: Banning so-called “assault weapons” will make people safer.

Connecticut’s strict “assault weapons” ban did NOT stop the Newtown tragedy from occurring. In fact, the Brady Campaign says that Connecticut has the fifth toughest gun laws in the country. They have a myriad of gun restrictions — including a ban on guns in schools and a semi-automatic ban (which is much stricter than the Clinton “assault weapons” ban ever was) — and all of these laws were broken by the shooter in Newtown.

Not only that, the Columbine massacre in 1999 happened while the federal semi-automatic ban was in place. To wit, the Clinton gun ban did not stop the Columbine killers from getting their hands on semi-automatic “assault weapons.”

Even a study conducted by the Clinton Justice Department concluded that the semi-auto ban did nothing to reduce crime or shootings. The Justice Department stated, “The ban has failed to reduce the average number of victims per gun-murder incident or multiple-gunshot wound victims.” (National Institute of Justice, “Impacts of the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban,” 1999.)

Licensing or banning guns is not going to stop bad guys from getting their hands on these “assault weapons” — which are really a misnomer, as they are not used by any military on the earth. They are SEMI-automatics (not machine guns) and, functionally, they fire the exact same way as any deer rifle.

Myth #2: The U.S. is so dangerous because we have millions of guns in circulation.

No, America is dangerous to the extent that we have created thousands of gun free zones where criminals can work in safety. Former FBI profiler, Clint Van Zandt, reported on NBC News recently that potential mass murderers seek out venues where there is no law enforcement officer and where they know no one is armed.

That’s why we don’t see armed thugs, who are intent on committing evil, trying to shoot up a police station where their victims are armed. Rather, they target locations like the Oregon mall (this December) or the theater in Aurora, Colorado (in 2012) or Virginia Tech (in 2007) or Columbine (in 1999) — all places where guns were illegal, even for law-abiding citizens.

The last thing we need to do is create more targets of opportunity for disaffected young men.

Myth #3: Gun control in foreign countries has stopped gun massacres from occurring.

Actually, what gun control does is lull people into thinking that we have made people safer when we haven’t. Dunblane, Scotland suffered through a school-yard massacre in 1996, even though the country had much stricter gun control than we have today. Norway experienced its own horrendous massacre last year where 69 kids were shot and killed in one event, even though their laws are also stricter than ours.

By contrast, foreign countries have stopped school-related violence, not by banning guns, but by arming teachers. The nation of Israel — after more than 20 children were murdered by Muslim terrorists during the Ma’alot massacre in 1974 — has solved their school-related violence problem by allowing armed teachers to protect students. Thailand has pursued the same approach, as well.

There are also examples of how good people successfully use guns in this country to stop potential massacres. Consider Assistant Principal Joel Myrick at the High School in Pearl, Mississippi (in 1997) or Jeanne Assam at the New Life Church in Colorado Springs (in 2007).

Both Myrick and Assam stopped their attackers before the police could arrive and without injuring one innocent person.

Myth #4: No American needs a magazine holding 30 rounds of ammunition.

Banning high capacity magazines will not keep criminals from getting them, any more than DC’s gun ban prevented criminals from getting guns. And keeping them from honest citizens will only make them less safe.

Just consider the Korean merchants who armed themselves with so-called “assault” weapons (and lots of ammunition) during the Los Angeles riots. Dozens of people were killed during the riots — and hundreds more saw their homes and businesses looted. But the Koreans’ stores remained standing, while others around them burned to the ground.

The nation also witnessed law-abiding civilians who had to defend themselves from roving gangs after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. When you are facing gang or mob violence — and the police are nowhere to be found — you need more than just a six-shooter.

The press should stop pushing for restrictions upon the rights of decent Americans, because guns in good people’s hands save lives.

Erich Pratt is the Director of Communications for Gun Owners of America, a national gun lobby with over 300,000 members.