A Matter of Misperception (Part 2)

Well, time certainly flies. Life twists and turns and blogs fall to the wayside. Let’s pick up where we left off.

In Part 1 of this article I addressed several common misperceptions about firearms and firearms laws, specifically nomenclature, lawful transfers, and military & police expertise. In this part we’ll talk about misperceptions of crime and violence from a historical and contemporary perspective, as well as misperceptions about the so-called gun lobby.

One of the favorite tropes invoked by anti-gunners is that of the “Wild West”. Anytime there’s a mention of expanding carry laws or reducing permit requirements, the Wild West is inevitably mentioned along with the obligatory clutching of pearls, the inference of course being vigilante lawlessness and bloody shootouts in the street. This is a misperception based on a century of fictional accounts from dime store pulp novels to spaghetti westerns to current video games.

In reality, the United States in the post-Reconstruction era was largely peaceful with a per capita homicide rate that hasn’t been lower since the turn of the 20th century. In fact, just like today, the majority of violence in late 19th century America wasn’t on the frontier, but rather in the densely populated urban areas back east. The narrative of the violent gun slinging American west is a false one based on a genuine ignorance of American history.

Speaking of narratives, apparently the United Kingdom is the role model for governmental firearms regulation that the United States should strive to emulate. I know this because it is a favorite and oft-recited solution offered by social media gun restriction enthusiasts. Private gun ownership in the UK is incredibly restrictive. The carrying of firearms for self defense by private citizens is pretty much unheard of. Infringement advocates love to point to the UK as a shining example of how strict gun control inevitably reduces violence.

Except it doesn’t. In fact, the homicide rate in London recently exceeded that of New York City. The weapon of choice? Bladed instruments. On average 400 people are injured monthly in knife attacks in London alone. The UK government is currently engaged in a national “anti knife violence” campaign, there are restrictions on the purchase of knives, including kitchen knives and eating utensils. They have amnesty drop boxes – which are apparently a great source for knives – and police in the UK engage in aggressive “stop and frisk” tactics in known violence hot spots. It doesn’t appear to be working. In the meantime, a citizen in the UK who uses force to defend themselves from a violent attacker may well find themselves facing criminal charges. PS Australia isn’t a crime free utopia either.

So while the UK wages a losing war on knives, talking heads and empty suits in the US lament the inability of our government to disregard the Constitution (and centuries of American culture) and just “ban the darn things!” And they’d be able to do it too if it weren’t for the omnipotent monolithic bogey man known as the Gun Lobby. They apparently buy and own every politician in Washington.

Except they don’t. Not even close. The National Rifle Association is not in the top twenty campaign contributors according to the Open Secrets Lobbying Spending Database. But 6 of the top 10 spenders are however directly related to the medical and healthcare industry. Other top 20 notables include Amazon, Facebook, and the National Association of Broadcasters. No sign of the evil gun lobby anywhere.

The reason the NRA wields influence is because they represent millions of real, living, breathing, dues paying humans. These humans represent the most vocal, the most motivated, organized, and informed segment of the American gun owning community when it comes to matters of gun rights. And they vote. And their friends and families vote. And their coworkers and their employees vote. And politicians crave the vote even more than the dollar. Because they don’t get one without the other.

Until next time, thanks for reading my rambling,

Dave

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