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January 22, 2014 Posted by Editor in

Billy Johnson: Declining Gun Ownership

In NRA News Commentators Episode 37, Billy Johnson exposes the flawed logic behind using ambiguous statistics to justify gun control.

Billy Johnson: Declining Gun Ownership

Last spring, the New York Times published an article that touted a fou-decade-long decline in gun ownership. This article is often used by gun control advocates to argue that reasonable gun control is being blocked by a small, but vocal minority. It’s based on data from the 2012 General Social Survey that shows gun ownership in the U.S. has declined from 49 percent of households owning a gun in 1973 to 34 percent in 2012.

This argument absolutely baffles me. First, the data is flawed at best, and blatantly misleading at worst. It’s based on self-reported gun ownership, and I think it’s fair to say that a lot of smart, law-abiding gun owners aren’t all that inclined to answer “yes” to a survey when asked if they have guns in their homes. Additionally, there are other surveys that contradict the GSS survey. For example, a 2012 Gallup poll reported gun ownership at 43 percent.

Regardless of the problems with the data, there is, I think, a much deeper problem with the argument. We are essentially being asked to agree to limitations on our constitutionally protected Second Amendment rights because less than 35 percent of Americans choose to exercise that right.

What? When did we set usage requirements on our rights?

I’d be willing to bet that a pretty high percentage of Americans have never engaged in a protest. Does that mean we should consider striking the right to peaceably protest from the First Amendment? I mean, people are hardly using it, right?

I don’t think we should ever link debates about the Second Amendment to stats about gun ownership. The Constitution protects the choice of citizens to arm themselves; it does not mandate it. If there is any shockingly low stat that we should include in the debate over violence and gun ownership, it’s this: Let’s talk about how many people in the U.S. actually commit violent crimes each year.

Again, the data is difficult to pin down. Many violent crimes are never reported. And conversely, the same perpetrator could commit several violent crimes, and each get counted as a separate incident. Still, according to the 2012 FBI Crime Stats, there were an estimated 386.9 violent crimes per 100,000 people in 2012. Even if we make the unrealistic assumption that each crime was committed by a unique perpetrator, that means that less than 0.4 percent of the population committed a violent crime.

So, less than one-half of a percent of the people in the U.S. perpetrate violent crimes. Certainly, many of those don’t involve a firearm. But even if they did, it still means that less than one-half of a percent of the population is using a gun to commit a violent crime. And yet, we are being asked to agree to more limitations on legal gun ownership – a constitutional right – because less than half a percent of Americans abuse that right.

Let me just summarize this for you. Gun control advocates argue that we should limit one of our rights because less than half the population exercises it, in order to stop the half a percent of the population who might be abusing it. Well, if they call that reasonable, I’m proud to be considered an unflinching, unreasonable gun rights advocate.


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  • TheOldLady

    No argument from the left holds up under intelligent scrutiny.

    We should all give up our guns because skittles and rainbows and unicorns.

    Otherwise, we’re racist.

    They can go pound sand.


  • Smitty550

    The NY Times itself is a flawed publication. It’s typical: dream up some inaccurate statistics, then present them as fact. The NY Times has had its share of articles that turned out to be complete lies. That’s another reason why I don’t read the left-leaning rag from New York. But, there’s the rub: New York is ultra-liberal, and if it were the other way around, I would bet that the Times would have gone bankrupt long ago.

    Liberals need (demand is a better word) to be constantly fed liberal trash-talk, or they get quite upset. The NY Times has performed that service admirably.

  • M. Pedderson

    I think part of this can be attributed to the campaign in the public education system to make the idea of gun ownership or mere possession a frightening thought. The over reaction by school staff at the slightest reference to a firearm, ranging from berating the violator in class to expulsion, is designed to blunt the desire to bring the subject up again, let alone actually own a firearm in the future. Holder himself said it, back in the 90’s…”We need to do this every day of the week and just really brainwash people into thinking about guns in a vastly different way.” Granted he was talking about guns used by kids in inner city violence, but they expanded that philosophy to mean all kids and all guns. In the Common Core curriculum the segment on the Constitution discusses the Bill of Rights and how some of the Amendments are old fashioned and out dated. One of the questions up for discussion describes the 2nd Amend. and gives a synopsis which leaves out everything except the “…a well organized militia” portion, it then asks, “since we now have a well organized military and police forces do we still need to own guns to protect the country?” …So where do you think they are headed with that? If this continues, in a couple of generations they could have people freely giving up their rights because they’ve been indoctrinated. Those would be our grand-children folks. We need to get off our asses and and make sure that doesn’t happen.

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