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In “10 Pro-Gun Myths, Shot Down”, I collected a range of research and statistics that challenge some of pro-gun advocates most popular sound bites. The National Rifle Association took notice and has been returning fire with a series of short videos attacking the “media misinformation.” The clips score a couple of good points, but they’re far from bulletproof. So let the debunking of the debunking of the debunking begin!
Myth #1: They’re coming for your guns.
“Mother Jones is right,” declares NRA News host Cam Edwards as he kicks off what he promises will be a 10-part rebuttal. “There is no way to round up all the privately-owned firearms in the United States.”
That hasn’t stopped his colleagues at the NRA from claiming that the government will soon be coming for your guns. The group’s executive vice president Wayne LaPierre has long insisted that the Obama administration is behind a secret “conspiracy” to impose “gun owner licensing and gun registration regimes that could be used for gun prohibition, confiscation, and ultimate destruction.” (He was at it again recently, claiming universal background checks would lead to your guns being taken away.)
Besides, nobody in Washington is proposing gun confiscation. Tellingly, Edwards only cites non-lawmakers, such as this Daily Kos writer, who have called for restrictions far beyond anything being considered on Capitol Hill. And regulating firearms doesn’t make confiscation inevitable. For example, the National Firearms Act of 1934, which requires the owners of machine guns and sawed-off shotguns to register with the federal government, led to no such roundup, and today machine guns are hardly ever used in crimes. When it passed, the law was endorsed by the NRA.
Myth #2: Guns don’t kill people—people kill people.
Here Edwards claims that “we know that there really is no correlation between gun ownership rates and suicide rates.” Yet researchers have found a link between higher rates of gun ownership and higher rates of suicide by gun—but not by other means—in the United States.
Edwards is correct that the suicide rate is much higher in virtually gun-free Japan. (Most Japanese suicides are hangings.) Obviously, gun availability isn’t the only factor behind suicides in Japan (or the United States). Yet internationally, as the World Health Organization reports, readily available firearms “facilitate unplanned suicide acts” and “increase the suicide frequency.”