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Beauchamp reports: "Even if you control for poverty levels, more people die from gun homicides in areas with higher rates of gun ownership."

Deaths caused by firearms are lower in states with more strict gun laws. (photo: unknown)
Deaths caused by firearms are lower in states with more strict gun laws. (photo: unknown)

5 Lies the Gun Lobby Tells You

By Zack Beauchamp, ThinkProgress

17 December 12


merica's seems to be in for another debate over gun regulation after the slaughter at Sandy Hook Elementary School left 27 (mostly children) dead. So it's worth reviewing five made against regulating gun ownership in the United States:

MYTH #1: More guns don't lead to more murders. A survey by researchers at the Harvard University School of Public Health found strong statistical support for the idea that, even if you control for poverty levels, more people die from gun homicides in areas with higher rates of gun ownership. And despite what gun advocates say, countries like Israel and Switzerland don't disprove the point.

MYTH #2: The Second Amendment prohibits strict gun control. While the Supreme Court ruled in D.C. v. Heller that bans on handgun ownership were unconstitutional, the ruling gives the state and federal governments a great deal of latitude to regulate that gun ownership as they choose. As the U.S. Second Court of Appeals put it in a recent ruling upholding a New York regulation, "The state's ability to regulate firearms and, for that matter, conduct, is qualitatively different in public than in the home. Heller reinforces this view. In striking D.C.'s handgun ban, the Court stressed that banning usable handguns in the home is a 'policy choice[]' that is 'off the table,' but that a variety of other regulatory options remain available, including categorical bans on firearm possession in certain public locations."

MYTH #3: State-level gun controls haven't worked. Scholars Richard Florida and Charlotta Mellander recently studied state-to-state variation in gun homicide levels. They found that "[f]irearm deaths are significantly lower in states with stricter gun control legislation." This is backed up by research on local gun control efforts and cross-border gun violence.

MYTH #4: We only need better enforcement of the laws we have, not new laws. In fact, Congress has passed several laws that cripple the ability for current gun regulations to be enforced the way that they're supposed to. According to researchers at the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, a series of federal laws referred to as the Tiahrt amendments "limit public access to crime gun trace data, prohibit the use of gun trace data in hearings, pertaining to licensure of gun dealers and litigation against gun dealers, and restrict ATF's authority to require gun dealers to conduct a physical inventory of their firearms." Other federal laws "limited the ATF compliance inspections" and grant "broad protections from lawsuits against firearm manufacturers and retail sellers."

MYTH #5: Sensible gun regulation is prohibitively unpopular. Not necessarily. As the New Republic's Amy Sullivan reported after the series of mass shootings this summer, a majority of Americans would prefer both to enforce existing law more strictly and pass new regulations on guns when given the option to choose both rather than either/or. Specific gun regulations are also often more popular than the abstract idea. your social media marketing partner


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+19 # kyzipster 2012-12-17 10:43
What should be listed under #4 is the fact that the government is not allowed to use a computer database to track gun sales. I saw a documentary that went into this issue in depth. Not only is the ATF underfunded and understaffed (one more gift from Republicans who believe in small government and a gargantuan military) they have to collect paper records from gun dealers if they need to track sales. If a gun dealer's shop burns down or is flooded, too bad. The power of the NRA is outrageous, they won't even allow law enforcement to move into the computer age which started decades ago.
-3 # The Voice of Reason 2012-12-19 22:28
We need to repeal the 2nd amendment. Americans can take back their government. Waiting for pols to do something will only mean more people have to die.
-15 # wipster 2012-12-17 11:08
Guns don't kill people, people with guns kill people...
-4 # The Voice of Reason 2012-12-19 22:26
Strange, I don't get all the negatives. This is clearly a pro-gun control comment.
+30 # jmac9 2012-12-17 11:39
A "well regulated militia."
Adam Lanza and his mother were not members of a "well regulated militia."

The nut who murdered people at a Colorado movie theater was not a member of a 'well regulated militia'.

The street thug or the suburbanite with their hand guns are not members of a 'well regulated militia.'

You with your ridiculous insane stockpile of military assault rifles, handguns, AK47s, M16s etc - aside from being a nut -

You are not a member of a "well regulated militia". You have no constitutional protection to buy or possess such weaponry.
+6 # kitster 2012-12-17 12:13
unfortunately, we have a "militia"...but it's far from "well regulated." "Aye, there's the rub." and that's where a good case can be made to the supreme court to change its interpretation of the second amendment.
-22 # FDRva 2012-12-17 13:41
And all psycho gun nut youth thank video game makers for teaching them how to kill.

Take a look at their product, before you blame anyone else, guilty liberals.

It beats falling back on the tired gun-control arguments of the 1960s--like any one of us really believed them then.
0 # tishado 2012-12-29 05:13
Quoting FDRva:
And all psycho gun nut youth thank video game makers for teaching them how to kill.

Take a look at their product, before you blame anyone else, guilty liberals.

It beats falling back on the tired gun-control arguments of the 1960s--like any one of us really believed them then.

I live in South Korea, which has a major problem with addiction to video games, including violent ones. I do not see a lot of shooting deaths because there are no guns (not even in the hands of regular police).
+16 # kitster 2012-12-17 12:08
allright. the woman who bought the guns used in the sandy hook massacre was a law-abiding citizen. evidentally, she was also a target enthusiast. her son was a whacko...and greviously did she and the rest of us pay for it.

let's also talk about the mental health of this the same breath as gun control.

sure, we have too many guns and too few regulations on them. who needs to hunt deer...or target shoot...with an assault weapon if you're not in the armed services?

but this lanza boy was a mental case. why wasn't he being monitored? his parents didn't seem to be up to the task. yet these types of mental cases seem to go unchecked.

we all hear the reports of "we knew something was wrong, but...," after the horrible fact.

of course, with fewer guns on the streets, there would be less chance for these tragedies to happen. but what of are ability to recognize, monitor and prevent the deranged from acting out their preverse mental anguish?

it's more than just too many's too little emphasis on the maintenance of the nation's mental health.
-14 # 2012-12-17 12:12
The highest rate of gun homicide in the US was in Washington DC which has a near-universal ban on guns. Of course, Chicago is right up there too and they have similar gun laws.

And some countries like Switzerland (where gun ownership is nearly universal) have exceedingly low gun homicide rates.

The problem is not guns or gun ownership per se so gun control laws are irrelevant to addressing the problem. The problem is culture and, unfortunately, we have a rather violent culture. The least we can do is allow law-abiding citizens to protect themselves from criminals.

Lee Nason
New Bedford, Massachusetts
+4 # bsager892 2012-12-17 13:03
I live in TN and get the Cookeville (home of TN Tech and about 30K people) about Herald Citizen every day. The paper publishes police reports of all burglaries, auto break-ins, etc. EVERY day there are guns of all sorts (rifles, shotguns, but mostly handguns) stolen from homes and autos; mosts of the trucks and cars were left unlocked, and the guns in houses weren't in any type of safe. It seems incredible that this means that every household and vehicle has a gun in them, or burglars are targeting people with guns.
+3 # dkonstruction 2012-12-17 15:24
The highest rate of gun homicide in the US was in Washington DC which has a near-universal ban on guns. Of course, Chicago is right up there too and they have similar gun laws.

And some countries like Switzerland (where gun ownership is nearly universal) have exceedingly low gun homicide rates.

The problem is not guns or gun ownership per se so gun control laws are irrelevant to addressing the problem. The problem is culture and, unfortunately, we have a rather violent culture. The least we can do is allow law-abiding citizens to protect themselves from criminals.

Lee Nason
New Bedford, Massachusetts

I don't disagree that a big part of the problem is our culture but i don't think your first two sentences prove anything for what if the majority of the guns in DC and Chicago were bought out of city/state? There is no contradiction in saying that yes we need to change the culture but also in saying we need sensible gun laws.
0 # 2012-12-17 19:04

It is true that the first facts I cited do not "prove" the pro-gun case. The statistics are actually all over the place: many locations with strict gun laws have low gun homicide rates and many have high homicide rates; many locations with easy and ubiquitous gun ownership have low gun homicide rates and many have high homicide rates. I was merely pointing out that restrictions on gun ownership do not seem to have much (if any) effect. We should thus reject such restrictions unless and until we can find something that would be effective in decreasing gun violence.

Over the last decade six people were killed with guns within two blocks of my home (and no case was solved). At least two of those deaths, happening during home invasions, might easily have been thwarted if the homeowner had been allowed to have a gun -- something that is too expensive and difficult for most of my law-abiding neighbors.

Lee Nason
New Bedford, Massachusetts
+2 # kyzipster 2012-12-17 21:43
Neither DC nor Chicago have a ban on guns. They have a strict registration process that the majority in the entire country approve of. Even the majority of gun owners approve of background checks. Chicago has an assault weapons ban, that is hardly a "near universal ban on guns". DC voted for a handgun ban (that is not a 'universal ban on guns'), the SCOTUS struck it down.

The NRA is lying to you.
0 # 2012-12-18 07:27

Until 2010 when the Supreme Court declared Chicago's gun ban unconstitutiona l, Chicago actually did have a complete ban.

When they were forced by that decision to rewrite their gun laws, they made the new laws so onerous that legal ownership is rare. Like Massachusetts, they have a steep registration fee ($100) and a requirement that the licensee have an approved gun safety course (here in Massachusetts, that same requirement translates to at least $600 per year). They also demand current photos, a valid driver's license (which many would-be gun owners might not have for various reasons including medical ones), and a variety of "hoops" and delays during the background checks. Also several different types of guns are banned altogether and there are "limits" on how many guns a gun owner can own and "concealed carry" is still totally prohibited.

This rigamarole results in few licenses and almost no licenses to people who live in high-crime, high-poverty areas where guns are most needed for self-defense.

The information I provided is actually from the Chicago Police site, not the NRA. And I think my characterizatio n of this situation as being a "near universal ban on guns" is reasonably accurate.

Lee Nason
New Bedford, Massachusetts
+1 # kyzipster 2012-12-18 13:57
The Chicago ban on handguns, was not a ban on all guns. A ban on handguns does not get in the way of a person's right to defend their home or their right to hunt or other sport. It makes it more difficult for criminals to conceal a weapon in public. The ban lasted 30 years.

I checked out the Chicago Police site. It looks very reasonable to me. Some training is required, an ID, photos and a background check. No more than we require to drive an automobile, probably less. It's a $100 one time fee and $15 per year for a handgun. There is no mention of restrictions on rifles and other sport guns. Perhaps they're the same. Id say your characterizatio n is an extreme exaggeration.
0 # 2012-12-18 15:03

The unconstitutiona l ban on handguns did not ban some rifles but it did ban ALL handguns. Rifles are not a useful tool for defense of one's home and family so it might as well have been a total ban.

But more importantly, you are overlooking the training requirement. Such training is expensive (one has to join a gun club at a minimum cost of $600 per year in Massachusetts), inconvenient (the nearest club to my home is several towns away since I live in an inner city where such clubs are banned), and time-consuming (multiple weekend mornings). This process makes gun ownership unfeasible for poor, often car-less inner city residents.

You might want to read about it in the Chicago Tribune (which is typically an anti-gun advocate) at

The sad truth is that pretty much all the legal handguns (several thousand in a city of millions of residents) are in the hands of wealthy folks on Lake Shore Drive while the poor (and often black) residents on the south side of town remain unarmed and vulnerable to being victimized.

The laws may seem "reasonable" to you but that is only because you seem unable to have empathy for those who want a gun to protect their homes and families and who remain unable to get one.

Lee Nason
New Bedford, Massachusetts
+1 # kyzipster 2012-12-18 20:06
A 2 second Google search turned up the Mass Firearms School. They charge $100 for a 4 hour class that can qualify a person for a permit.
+1 # 2012-12-19 00:05

They are a new business founded last year and my research had been done a couple of years ago so thanks for the additional information. They appear not to meet all the on-going licensure requirements however and they are located over an hour drive away from most of our inner city areas (Lowell, Lawrence, Boston, Springfield, Fall River and New Bedford) so I doubt that they are a feasible option for most of the people who want a firearm for defense. But we were not talking about Massachusetts which is clearly one of the toughest states regarding guns -- we actually put people in jail for having an unlicensed gun (with a mandatory minimum sentence).

The point I was trying to make was that Chicago's laws are clearly NOT reasonable when there are only a couple thousand licenses in a city with nearly 3 million residents. The fact that so few licenses have been issued is strong evidence that gun ownership is all but banned. And they have one of the highest gun fatality rates in the country.

Could it be that criminals prefer to prey on defenseless people? Could it be that strict gun laws actually cause more gun crimes? Could it be that criminals avoid communities where gun ownership is near universal? The statistics are mixed but they do not support the idea that gun control us an effective way to address gun crime.

Lee Nason
New Bedford, Massachusetts
0 # kyzipster 2012-12-19 07:43
Why do you keep bringing up Massachusetts? I could easily find similarly priced training in the Chicago area.

You have not convinced me that tougher requirements in cities that obviously support tougher gun control laws infringe on anyone's rights. I would find it comforting to know that most gun owners in my state have had a bit of training on safety and that background checks are required.
0 # 2012-12-19 10:33
I discuss Massachusetts since I live here and knew three of the six victims of gun fatalities within a two block area of my home over the past decade. And I know enough about the crimes to say that two of the victims (who were killed in home invasions) could have successfully defended themselves if gun ownership were not virtually banned. The third victim I knew was a young man who worked for me during his summer vacations who was shot in a drive-by by accident.

I also used Massachusetts because I was responding to your post which implied that gun ownership in Massachusetts was not as onerous as I had claimed. The new company you cited does not meet all the requirements for gun ownership (I checked them out last night) so a licensee would still have to go out and join a gun club with an annual fee of at least $600 per annum around here.

I am certain you believe that "reasonable" guns laws are justified but I see that the scarcity of licensed guns in jurisdictions like Washington DC, Chicago, and Massachusetts proves that many law-abiding people cannot get guns to defend themselves, I also see that most of the disenfranchised people are people of color (as are most of my neighbors). Gun control laws seem to me to be discriminatory and harm the most disadvantaged and vulnerable people in our society.

Lee Nason
New Bedford, Massachusetts
0 # tishado 2012-12-29 05:21
I am very sorry about the high rate of gun violence in your area. The criminology research says that that type of crime is best controlled through more intense law enforcement and so-called community policing. Maybe you could get in touch with your mayor's office, city council, and PD and try to get a greater police presence in your area, that could perhaps work in concert with a neighborhood watch. I hope you do not have to continue to suffer.
0 # 2012-12-29 09:08

We've had "community policing" for a long time and our neighborhood routinely meets with politicians.

That does not seem to help at all. Earlier this year, the cops killed a teenager, the fourth member of his family to be killed by the cops, after he refused to disarm, was repeatedly tasered, and stabbed one of the responding cops in the abdomen.

At one community meeting where the primary topic was a break-in on my block where the thief stole all the copper plumbing and mechanical system piping, one city councillor advised me to buy a gun.

If I weren't personally opposed to guns, I could have done so but that does not address the problem of my neighbors, most of whom cannot afford a legal gun and many of whom cannot get a license for a gun for various reasons. And my neighbors are mostly more vulnerable than I am -- elderly, disabled, minority, non-English-spe aking folks who are targets for predators.

Our current very restrictive gun laws make targets of the most vulnerable while putting those who try to defend themselves or their neighbors in prison for a mandatory one-year minimum.

The answer is not more gun restrictions. The answer is giving people the right to defend themselves.

Lee Nason
New Bedford, Massachusetts
0 # tishado 2012-12-29 05:15
Actually, DC and Chicago do not have the highest rates of gun murders. They have high absolute numbers of deaths. The Chicago rate per 100,000 is actually lower than the rate in many other places.
0 # 2012-12-29 09:26

That's true enough -- I believe that New Orleans and Detroit currently top the list. But you cannot deny that gun fatalities are most common in inner cities and that restrictive gun control laws are most onerous in inner cities.

Even so, correlation is not causation so the statistics do not tell us much about the situation. What should be clear to everyone however is that vulnerable, law-abiding citizens should be allowed to defend themselves and their families.

Lee Nason
New Bedford, Massachusetts
+5 # jmac9 2012-12-17 13:27
Let's add another bit of gun insanity:

Remember the "Fast and Furious" disaster that got pushed out of the public view?

the DEA was SUPPLYING assault weapons to Mexican drug cartels -

Oops, surprise, one of those guns was used to kill a US agent.

So a lie had to be fabricated - it was an absurd lie - the lie was that the DEA was allowing sales of assault weapons so as to track the guns - how ludicrous that.

The purpose of a gun is to kill.

Guns only equal murder.
0 # tishado 2012-12-29 05:22
Actually, the DEA was not supplying guns. It was watching gun sales and was unable to get any prosecutors willing to take any of their cases to put a stop to the arms dealing, largely due to the permissive law and local pro-gun attitude.
0 # 2012-12-29 09:46

What you say is true but misrepresents the situation. Illegal gun sales were reported by gun shop owners who wanted to refuse to sell guns to obvious criminals and the DEA agents told them (REPEATEDLY) to make the sales. They were told that the guns would be tracked -- an obvious lie.

Under these circumstances, one has to wonder why AG Holder refused to prosecute -- he has long been an advocate for "tough" gun control and has been notably disdainful of local opinion about anything -- consider the "New Black Panthers" case for instance.

Part of the evidence in Fast and Furious is that DEA officials, after attending gun control events, recommended, in writing, allowing the sale of illegal weapons in order to build public opinion to support their cause. I do not ordinarily buy into conspiracy theories like this, but, in this instance, there is some persuasive evidence.

While we cannot conclusively know AG Holder's motivation for not prosecuting the gun runners, we can be reasonably certain that his failure to act was not motivated by his support for second amendment freedoms or his respect for local pro-gun sentiments or his concerns about the safety of law-abiding citizens in border areas. His several attempts to misrepresent his knowledge about the program in congressional hearings casts further doubt about his innocence.

Lee Nason
New Bedford, Massachusetts
+2 # FDRva 2012-12-17 13:32
The gun lobby does lie--just like their kindred spirits in Hollywood.

Gun Control is in order--provided video game control, is, as well.

Hollywood has lied about the connection between media violence and real-world violence for decades--partic ularly as it involves impressionable youth.

And not surprisingly the news media--as subsidiaries of the same corporations--h ave pooh-poohed the connection.

Apparently violent video game makers think programming kids to kill--is a 'constitutional right.'

Do you agree?
+12 # DurangoKid 2012-12-17 13:43
This problem is way bigger than gun control. Gun control seems like an easy fix and that's why it's wrong. Medicare for all would go a lot further in preventing violence than banning one or another kind of weapon. But, Medicare for all is off the agenda because the 1% wants it that way. They profit from mayhem and disease. Medicare for all runs counter to the national narrative and that's probably it's greatest barrier to becoming a reality. Having a national healthcare system sends a message that everyone has a right to be cared for. No one is left out. You don't need to suffer alone. It's no accident that in countries with a national healthcare system rates of incarceration and murder are a fraction of ours. It's also no accident that money is the barrier to mental healthcare. Underlying our national narrative of hyper-individua lism is a subtext of exclusion and blame. If you're troubled or sick and can't afford help, then the problem must be with you. You failed to "go it alone". If part of the national narrative is that we take care of each other, then we might also question some other things like why we're involved in wars of imperialism and why our industrial system can only function by poisoning the planet with carbon dioxide. The 1% can't have that! No, it's better for the 1% if we argue among ourselves over distractions like gun control or big government or intelligent design. They're laughing all the way to the banks that we bailed out!
-5 # FDRva 2012-12-17 14:21
Is it a constitutional right for Wall Street/Silicon Valley corporations to turn kids into killers--for profit?

This veteran of the intell community thinks not.

The next question is whether the president controls this process?

No. He does not-but some assets related to him--are compromised.

I feel sorry for my fellow ex-Chicagoan Barry Obama. I will pray for him.
+7 # imaginethat 2012-12-17 14:37
DurangoKid, I agree. Thank you. I experienced Sweden's "gift" of healthcare this spring while I was a visitor there and had a health problem. No bill. Yes, it gets paid for by persons who are working, but it wipes out care for profit. Everyone DOES count concerning their healthcare. I know it actually happened to me, yet the feeling is still overwhelming. I was cared for immediately , no questions asked.
I appreciate your comments.
-6 # Lothar 2012-12-17 17:58
Myth #2 is wrong for a different reason:
The 2nd Am. prohibits ALL arms control - not just the gov - "the right (before the gov. was formed) to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." The first clause is immaterial and irrelevant, it could say "because footballs don't have feathers..." read the justifications for the 2nd. I also agree with a statement I just read: "If the first thing you think of when you heard of the shootings was whether President Barry Soetoro would take your guns you are SICK." At least, with me it was about the second thing.
By the way murder is already illegal and against the law and it was a gun-free zone, so, a new law wouldn't have helped.
Besides, I bet the shooter didn't work for the "government" anyway, so as to be subject to their rules.
-1 # tishado 2012-12-29 05:24
Actually, until the recent reinterpretatio ns of the 2nd amendment, the general understanding was that there was no absolute personal right to arms and very strict regulations were regularly upheld for individual owners.

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