5 Realities Of Owning A Gun (The Media Never Talks About)
With two-thirds of the country demanding we tamp down on gun ownership and one chunk insisting we legalize tank ownership, America's gun control "debate" is little more than a shouting match that won't stop until every fifth-grader is either packing heat or successfully murdered. To what should be the surprise of no one, there are a few things about American gun culture that both sides keep getting wrong. For instance ...
Most Gun Violence Happens In States Nobody Talks About
Chicago is the gun fanatic's favorite stick to beat opponents with. That's because despite its strict gun laws, the city is still deemed the most violent place in all of America. So that proves gun control doesn't work. Right? Only one little caveat: The state with the most gun violence isn't Illinois. That honor goes to the whitest state in the union, Alaska.
Alaska had the most gun-related deaths of any state in 2015. Now, like in every other state, most of those deaths were suicides, but as of this year, Alaska still has the worst violent crime rate in the country. Yet people don't seem afraid to go there. So what is causing all that Alaskan violence? We can't say conclusively, but the state is predominantly white and has the sixth-highest poverty level in America, so it's hard to blame everything on dastardly non-Caucasians. Maybe it's the fault of another thing that Alaska doesn't have: restrictions on guns. No limits, no licenses for dealers, no waiting periods.
But those things don't work. After all, remember Chicago? Yes, Chicago has tough gun laws that don't seem to be doing anything. But that's because most of the guns aren't acquired in Chicago at all, but instead come from neighboring states like Indiana, where it's a goddamn free for all. In fact, nearly 6 out of 10 guns recovered at Chicago crime scenes come from out-of-state dealers. It's hard to enforce gun control if criminals can simply drive 30 minutes and get a shotgun free with the purchase of a toaster oven.
And even though there are plenty of murders in the city itself, don't forget that Chicago is huge. It's home to almost three million people, meaning that when you break the numbers down per capita, Chicago's gun crime in 2016 was 16 per 100,000. St. Louis was 660. That's not a typo. So don't worry about Chicago. Worry about Anchorage. Or West Palm Beach, home to Mar-a-Lago, which has comparable violent crime rates, only a small percentage of which we can feasibly blame on Trump.
Many Gun Owners Aren't "Responsible"
A small study of North Carolina parents showed that 99 percent reported having a smoke detector, but only 57 percent admitted to locking up guns so that kids couldn't get them. Additionally, 36 percent of those families admit they keep them loaded! Don't they read Chekhov in North Carolina? A much larger survey found that 54 percent of gun owners overall admitted that they did not store their guns safely. No gun safes, no cabinets, no trigger locks, not even a passive-aggressive Post-It note telling everyone not to touch their stuff.
And in a bizarre twist, the gun owners least likely to secure their guns were the ones who stressed that they bought them for security purposes.
These legal gun owners were also prime victims for robbery, supplying their neighborhood criminals and meth heads with exactly the kind of "illegal" hardware Fox News viewers keep complaining about. We'll never know how many of their guns find their way to the street, because only a dozen or so states have any kind of law that says firearm theft has to be reported to authorities. But when it comes to such thefts that have been reported, the FBI has noticed a steady uptick.
So the next time you see some insecure patriot walking around with a shotgun slung over their back, breathe a sigh of relief. At least they know exactly where their gun is.
Mass Shootings Consistently Lead To Looser Gun Laws, Not Stricter Ones
Since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012, almost half of the country has expanded, rather than tightened, its gun control laws. Since 2014, you can now walk around in a Georgia airport with a loaded weapon. It's also now cool in Tennessee to carry a loaded gun in a car without a concealed carry permit, kind of thanks to Newtown. One guy tries to blow up a plane with a shoe, and we all have to take our shoes off for the TSA forever, but a dozen kids get mowed down by bullets, and Ohio makes it perfectly legal to conceal-carry in daycare centers. But it's not all bad. In Oregon, it's now illegal to buy a gun if you have been convicted of stalking or domestic violence.
These new laws aren't erected despite the tragic shootings, but because of them. According to a 2016 Harvard study examining gun control laws all the way back to 1989, mass shootings create "policy windows" wherein it becomes easier to change a state's gun control laws in the year after one. And those laws do get changed ... in Republican-controlled states, which use the window to pass 75 percent more laws that loosen gun control. Meanwhile, when tragedy strikes anywhere a Democrat is in power, they remain all bark and no bite, proposing lots of bills but not actually passing any of them. If that really gets you down, we hope you live in a red state, because otherwise it's just chain-smoking and motorcycle-riding for you.
The NRA Does Not Represent The Average Gun Owner
Pew research has shown that NRA members are more than twice as likely as other gun owners to keep five or more guns and carry one around all the time like an especially violent Linus. Politically, they're also way more obsessed with gun rights, are likely to contact their representatives about gun issues on a regular basis, and are less likely to support strict background checks.
But the truly important number here is this: NRA membership only accounts for a tiny fraction of all gun owners in America. Using the NRA's own estimates of five million members (which, like their talk about being a well-regulated militia, is certainly an exaggeration), they only represent about 6.5 percent of American gun owners. So NRA members don't represent the average gun owner -- they're all alone on their little extremist island, presumably with mined beaches and antiaircraft guns.
So maybe it's finally time to start paying attention to all the other gun rights advocacy groups out there. Like the left-leaning Liberal Gun Club, for liberals who love Berettas and background checks. Or the Pink Pistols, a group that thinks strappin' up is a great way to protect yourself from hate crimes. And there are other, even more conservative groups, like the Gun Owners of America, which regularly butts heads with the NRA for being too compromising. Truth be told, gun culture is much more diverse than it seems. Really, the only thing they all agree on is "Guns are pretty rad."
There Are Fewer And Fewer Gun Owners (But More Guns)
There are now enough guns in America for every man, woman, child, and Shih Tzu to carry. But that doesn't mean gun ownership is on the rise. On the contrary, while there are more guns out there than you can shake a gun at, they are owned by a very small number of people. And that number is shrinking every year.
Right now, fewer Americans own guns than at any point in history. Yes, even after all the Obama stuff. As recently as the 1970s, the majority of Americans lived in households with guns. Today, that number is reversed, with 78 percent of Americans saying they live gun-free, though the data doesn't say how many are genuinely intolerant of guns and how many are gun-free because it's the trendy thing to do.
Most gun owners have "modest" collections -- maybe a handgun and a backup AR for fancy occasions. But during the Obama administration, a new class of gun owner rose to prominence: the "super-owner." They average a collection of 17 firearms -- one for every digit that hasn't been blown off yet. Which means that right now, half of America's guns (133 million) are owned by a mere 3 percent of American adults.
So what would possess you to own more guns than clean pairs of underwear? Why, fear of gun control, of course! Many super-owners started their collection after worrying that post-massacre gun laws would keep them from owning any more guns, like a Catch-22 (or maybe a Catch-357, since no super-owner would be caught dead with such a pansy caliber).
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