By Adrian Norman
It’s scripted at this point: Somewhere in the United States there’s a mass shooting and before the details are known, before the bodies have cooled, politicians and mainstream media activists capitalize on the emotional vulnerability of the public to push a political agenda.
Despite the fact that data shows intense media coverage encourages copycat attacks, television networks cram in as much coverage of these horrific events as they can, with most tapping as many politicians and pundits as possible to use this moment to call for gun control.
“Never let a good crisis go to waste” is a widespread political ethos that exploits fear, confusion, and irrationality—commonplace after a traumatic event—to push through legislation that otherwise would have never seen the light of day.
Regardless of who is doing it, exploiting the vulnerable is predatory behavior. And the public is being manipulated, mostly because those with the microphones—the talking heads on television; the political “leaders” that many trust—make a conscious decision to omit and distort facts to intentionally mislead people into supporting policies that will destroy their constitutional rights and ultimately leave them less safe.
Unpopular Facts About Gun Violence in America
For instance, those who try to talk you into giving up your Second Amendment right to self-defense don’t tell you that guns are used far more often for defensive purposes than to commit crimes. According to data reported by the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council, there are between 500,000 and 3 million defensive uses of firearms every single year in the United States.
They also don’t tell you that—despite their Pavlovian response to call for banning “assault weapons” or “military style” rifles—according to FBI stats for 2017, handguns actually composed 64 percent of the firearms used in murder and non-negligent manslaughter incidents (including mass shootings).
And, they mischaracterize the true nature of firearm deaths in the United States. For instance, although there were 39,773 gun deaths in 2017, according to the CDC, 60 percent (23,854) of those were from suicides and 37 percent (14,542) were homicides. But, in large urban areas, gang violence accounts for a large proportion of homicides. According to the Los Angeles Police Department, for example, about “70–80 percent of all homicides are gang related.” Additionally, 486 gun deaths were unintentional and 782 were justifiable homicides.
What Does All This Mean?
Based on the data, roughly 85–89 percent of gun-related deaths in the United States are likely caused by either suicide or gang violence. And using the current estimate of the U.S. population of 329,333,038, when we filter out suicides, gang-related murders, accidents, and justified shootings, there is roughly one firearm death per 100,000 people in the United States every year—making the United States among the lowest in the world for per capita firearm deaths.
Mark Twain once said, “Never let the truth get in the way of a good story,” and they most certainly do not.
Politicians, reporters, and pundits who leave this information out when they’re scaring you into signing away your constitutional rights are intentionally manipulating you. They know the facts and they choose to not properly inform the public they’re supposed to serve.
Firearm data clearly shows that we don’t have a gun problem, we have a suicide and gang problem—issues that anti-gun politicians won’t touch, likely because policies they’ve supported in the past have created the conditions that led to both more suicides and more gangs.
These facts are not to minimize the pain and destruction caused by mass shootings or anyone who is affected by gun violence. However, they do serve to paint a clearer picture than what one would hear from politicians and a media establishment that seeks to leverage an emotional public to push policy prescriptions that have little to no chance of stopping crime, particularly gun crime.
The loudest voices screaming “gun control now!” don’t care about saving lives. They don’t care about reducing crime. What they actually care about is patting themselves on the back and making themselves feel like they did something—even if that something has zero chance of stopping another mass shooting.
Adrian Norman is a writer and political commentator.