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4 Pro-Gun Myths That Debunk Themselves

Love them or hate them, guns are here to stay. Particularly in the United States, the issue of gun ownership is woven into the fabric of society. Heck, after the Constitution was written, the right to keep and bear arms was one of the earliest amendments added.

Just so you know, the Second Amendment reads:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

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Unfortunately, gun violence in the United States is also a shockingly common occurrence. It’s no secret that we’ve had an alarmingly high rate of mass shootings for a while now, including the heartbreaking massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School where a lone gunman killed 20 children and 6 teachers before finally killing himself. Tragedies such as this have become shockingly common – it almost seems like there’s a new one every month – and it’s led a lot of Americans to call for tighter gun control.

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Naturally, in a nation where the gun culture is so prevalent, this has led to a lot of opposition from gun advocates. Their concerns certainly have merit, but there are some common arguments they’ve put forth which practically debunk themselves when you examine the actual data.

1. “Good guys with guns stop bad guys with guns.”

This is easily one of the most common arguments that gun rights advocates put forth when debating gun control. It sounds simple enough: if there are plenty of regular people in a given scenario who have guns, it’s likely to discourage a criminal from ever trying anything – or at least one of those upstanding armed citizens will be able to stop the criminal with their gun.

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While we’re certainly not discounting that there have been incidents where things played out as described above, the statistical data tells another tale.

A Harvard University analysis of data from the National Crime Victimization Survey examined over 14,000 incidents of violent crime and found that guns were used for self-defense in fewer than 1% of them. Additionally, using a gun for self-defense had no noticeable effect on the chances of being harmed after any protective action. The study also found that while using a weapon of any kind raised a victim’s chances of avoiding property loss, guns didn’t improve those odds significantly more than any other type of weapon.

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Despite how appealing the narrative of the “good guy/savior” might be (especially the idea that one day you could be this hero, provided you faithfully carry your gun), it turns out that the odds of it happening are extremely slim. While we’re not saying it doesn’t happen, such incidents are statistically very few and far between in relation to most gun-related crimes.

2. “Guns are essential for home defense.”

This is the pro-gun argument that I can relate to the most. The urge to protect your partner, your kids, the general sanctity of your home – that’s something everyone can get behind. I would do anything to keep my family safe. I follow the logic when someone says they feel they can protect their home more effectively with a firearm…

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… But, as compelling as that logic might be, the numbers once again point to a different story. While the data certainly doesn’t say that guns haven’t ever helped prevent a home invasion, it doesn’t happen nearly often enough to be statistically significant. Several studies also found that such incidents are rife with “false positives” – claims that couldn’t be backed up by any actual evidence.

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On the other hand, there is plenty of scientific evidence that suggests the presence of a gun in a home significantly increases the chances of a gun-related assault, homicide, or suicide, which brings us to the next point.

3. “Guns make women safer.”

The argument here is that the world is a dangerous place for women (100% true), and a gun will help them fend off an attacker much more effectively. Sadly, as we’ve already discussed above, having a gun doesn’t actually make you that much safer, nor is it significantly better than any other protective weapon.

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In fact, guns in the home are much more often used to abuse or kill a woman in the house than they are to thwart a would-be burglar. A huge part of this has to do with the even larger issue of domestic abuse, and the fact that women are usually attacked by someone they already know.

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A survey of multiple domestic violence shelters found that of the victims who came from a household with a gun, the firearm was used against the victim by the abuser in nearly two-thirds of them. Another study found that incidents of a threatening gun display against family members may actually be far more common than self-defense usage.

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Despite the line touted by gun lobbyists, the fact is that the intersection of guns and women trends overwhelmingly towards a domestic abuser using the gun against the woman as a tool of control and intimidation.

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4. “We need guns to fight back against a tyrannical government.”

Of all the good and bad arguments the pro-gun lobby likes to present, this has got to be the one that holds the least merit. I acknowledge that yes, in the event of a hypothetical government uprising, I would be better off armed. And yes, of course, the American Revolution was won by armed citizens fighting against a tyrannical government.

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When the Revolutionary War was won, the technological difference between the government and the people was relatively negligible – muskets and cannons for all. Fast forward to today, where the government has advanced satellites that can spot the stain on your shirt from outer space and unmanned drones that can drop a bomb on you (look Ma, no hands!).

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The real problem here is that although the number of guns purchased has risen steadily since the Obama years (thanks, racially-motivated paranoia), the actual number of households with guns really hasn’t changed much. A majority of these sales are going to people who already own multiple guns – meaning that the majority of firearms in America are owned by a very small fraction of the population.

Even if there was a government uprising, it’d basically be the entire might of the U.S. armed forces vs. a relative handful of gun enthusiasts who may or may not have proper training and are spread out all over the country. Call me a pessimist, but I don’t anticipate this going too well for those guys…

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