Photo: Fabrizio Rinaldi
The National Rifle Association of America (NRA) was founded in 1871 with the dual mission of improving marksmanship and promoting gun safety. This was the result of the Union Army’s poor firearm proficiency — Union soldiers were firing 1,000 rifle shots for every rebel soldier hit. General Ambrose Burnside pushed for an organization to improve this; he became the NRA’s first president.
The NRA stuck mainly to its firearms training until 1934 when it formed its Legislative Affairs Division (LAD). The purpose of LAD was to inform members of events and interpret upcoming Congressional bills — no lobbying, just collecting and disseminating information interesting to NRA members.
When the National Firearms Act (1934) became the first federal gun-control law in America, then NRA President, Karl Frederick, testified before Congress:
“I never held to the customary habit of carrying weaponry. I scarcely carry one and do not subscribe to the promiscuous carrying of guns. I believe it ought to be restricted sharply and only with licenses.”
The group maintained that mindset until the organization began to focus on politics in the mid-70s. The 1977 annual convention became a defining moment for the NRA and is known in the organization’s history as “The Cincinnati Revolution.”
The Cincinnati Revolution saw the NRA divided into two groups: One group which wanted to maintain its historical footing as a teaching organization, and a second group whose main concern was the Second Amendment rights. Those favoring increased political involvement won the day and firmly set the group on the path it follows now.
Since then, the NRA has portrayed the world as being a dangerous place with terrorists, home invaders, and road-rage killers everywhere. The NRA’s main message: Gun ownership is the answer. The only thing the bad guys are afraid of is a gun in your hand.
Unfortunately, a large number of Americans buy into the myth. Sixty-three percent believe that guns make them safer. The truth is different. The evidence shows that guns leave everyone less safe — including their owners.
1. Myth: The government wants to disarm you.
Fact: With over 300 million privately owned weapons in the USA, it should be obvious there is no effective way to gather them all. Bear in mind that there isn’t even anyone in Washington proposing this. For anyone wanting to fantasize about rifle-toting residents staring down the state, there’s good news. Gun owners already have the government and cops outgunned by a factor of 80 to 1.
2. Myth: Guns don’t kill people — people do.
3. Myth: Armed society makes for a polite community.
Fact: A variety of studies show that being armed may increase your chances of getting into a confrontation. 9% of Americans report signs of impulsive, angry behavior — and say they own a gun.
Drivers who tote guns are 44% more likely than unarmed motorists to follow other drivers aggressively. In regions with Stand Your Ground and other regulations which make the decision easier to fire in self-defense, those policies have been shown to increase homicides by 7 to 10%.
4. Myth: Having a weapon in the home makes you safer.
Fact: Having a gun is linked to greater chances of murder, suicide, and unintentional death by shooting.
For every instance a gun is used for self-defense in the home, there are seven attacks or murders, 11 suicide tries, and four mishaps concerning guns in the home.
5. Myth: Guns make women safer.
Fact: In 2013, over five times more women were shot by husbands, boyfriends and ex-partners than were shot by male strangers. A woman’s odds of being killed by her abuser increase over 500% if he has access to a gun.
6. Myth: Vicious, violent video games deserve more blame than firearms.
Fact: Wayne LaPierre, NRA’s CEO, said this after the Newtown massacre. Someone needs to ask LaPierre, “what’s up with Japan?” — a country that is a major hub of video game culture with exceptionally low homicide rates.
The NRA is wrong.
Possessing a gun is more likely to injure you than defend you. There are many misconceptions about gun violence in Americans’ minds. Often, the misinformation is not accidental. For ages, the NRA has obstructed the truth and struggled against research on the causes and costs of gun violence.
Do your homework and choose for yourself. Teach yourself on what the NRA desires you to believe by reading The Truth About Guns. Let your elected representatives know that it is time for the gun lobby to stop holding Americans hostage.