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August 21, 2013

In the Debate over Gun Control, Go Armed with the Facts


NSSF’s “Gun Crimes Plummet Even As Gun Sales Rise” infographic in New York City’s Times Square.
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Last week, in what was actually one of the calmer and more civil discussions that crusading CNN talk show host Piers Morgan has had in the past year on the gun control issue, he tossed out as fact a completely erroneous statement that the state of Virginia in 2009 had experienced the highest death rate from firearms in the country. He had to admit he was wrong and apologized via Twitter, as seems to be the new custom for our nation’s professional chattering class.

Morgan’s on-air performance with Breitbart News contributor A.W.R. Hawkins rightly has been called out and sufficiently critiqued by others (mostly in the conservative media, of course). Here’s one example. I cite this as a mini-case study of what Second Amendment proponents and our industry faces in the public square day in and day out. Put simply, gun-control advocates often do not know the facts. Those facts are often at odds with their already established anti-gun beliefs.

We are often falsely accused, for example, of using the fear of crime to sell firearms for personal and home defense. So, to these critics I say, you can get this right if you pay close attention. We advocate for every American’s Constitutional right, affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Heller and McDonald decisions, to own a firearm for their own protection, should they choose to do so.

At the same time, we also expend considerable effort in media interviews and every other chance that we get to point out that crime involving the use of firearms has actually decreased substantially over the past 20 years. This is quite the opposite of scare mongering.

So, we are pleased by the considerable media attention that our new infographic on this and related topics has received. If Piers Morgan had been walking through New York City’s Times Square recently, he may have even spotted it on a big electronic screen overhead. I recommend this infographic to you. Share it. Use it to help educate and to inform. The facts are unassailable. They will come in real handy when you find yourself in that next discussion over gun control. You will be armed with the truth.

Larry Keane is senior vice president and general counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation. Follow him on Twitter at @lkeane.