The Guardian’s ‘myths about the future of gun control, debunked’ – debunked

Washington, DC (TFC) – The Guardian ran an article attempting to debunk myths about gun control in the United States. The Guardian is an outlet that resides in a country that has experimented for 15 years with a gun ban. The result of that ban is a murder rate ever so slightly above the murder rate prior to the ban, but gun homicides are down. Instead of being shot to death, victims are clubbed or have their throats slit. Progress. It also took the government placing 20,000 more cops on the street to achieve that rate. Prior to the deployment of more officers, the murder rate was actually higher.

So what did The Guardian offer her wayward colonial cousins in the way of advice? Pure propaganda. It’s a case study in various propaganda forms. The entire article is a series of “myths” held by the pro-gun lobby that are quickly debunked. The problem is that not many hold the positions The Guardian claims are pro-gun myths and the positions are completely distorted.

It doesn’t matter what your opinion of gun control is. This is more than an article discussing gun control. It’s a course in propaganda. Open the article prepared by The Guardian in one window and follow along as each “myth” is explained and the propaganda tactic used to push an agenda is dissected.

Myth 1: Gun control would never pass Congress

Really? Gun owners believe that Congress would never pass gun legislation. Gun owners in the United States must suffer from a bizarre form of collective amnesia. Nobody remembers the Brady Bill. Of course, since nobody remembers it, it’s very hard to explain why the pro-gun lobby spent over a quarter of a billion dollars in 2010 to stop gun control legislation. The pro-gun lobby is very aware that gun control could pass Congress.

This particular myth is a construct of the author. It is designed to create the impression that gun control advocates are fighting the government and appeal to the psychological desire to support the underdog.

Myth 2: Americans don’t want meaningful gun reform

The Guardian then defined “meaningful gun reform” as universal background checks and states that most Americans support them. Did you see the propaganda tactic here? It makes the assumption that background checks are meaningful gun reforms.

The problem here is that universal background checks are ineffective for a number of reasons. They don’t address purchases made by a person with a clean background who then provides the firearm to a felon. Many states don’t report felony and mental health problems to NICS (the background check system). There are many more reasons why this is a failed policy. The only way for background checks to be “meaningful” is to conduct a nationwide total gun registration program, which is highly unlikely to be supported, and is also prohibited by federal law.

Myth 3: Gun control won’t stop gun violence

That isn’t the argument that is made. The argument that is made is that it won’t stop violence. As in the murder rate. As in the rate that went up in the UK after the gun ban went into effect.

This is a typical “straw man” fallacy in which the propagandist creates a false position and then attacks it. At this point it becomes obvious that the article isn’t the work of someone unfamiliar with the facts, it’s the work of someone intent on selling propaganda.

Myth 4: Switzerland and Israel seem to do OK without gun control

This argument is used by the pro-gun lobby, but typically is used as a sign that the issue is cultural and not linked to the private ownership of firearms. That little fact is ignored by The Guardian and instead they point out that Switzerland has more gun deaths than the UK and other wealthy countries with gun control. However, if a comparison is made between Switzerland and a nation with strict gun control like the United Kingdom, it is revealed that a person is 76% more likely to be murdered in the UK. This propaganda stunt didn’t debunk the idea that it is a cultural issue, it confirmed it.

This is another example of misrepresenting the position of the opponent to make it easier to attack without using real facts.

Myth 5: Other countries are different

The author seems to be searching for filler “myths” here. The Guardian starts by stating that the cultures of countries are different, but that it wouldn’t mean the actions are different. Then it closes the “myth” by stating:

“It may be true that the link between guns and a culture of violence goes both ways, but that’s hardly a reason not to try tackle both at the same time.”

If the concluding sentence includes the idea that the myth may be true, it can be safely assumed that it was not debunked. As shown through the international comparison above, when data isn’t cherry picked, culture is probably the single most important factor aside from wealth when determining the amount of violence that occurs.

Myth 6: US borders are too open

The Guardian seems to believe that the ability to move almost anything across the southern border is a myth, or that it just doesn’t matter because this argument isn’t used to advocate the end to drug interdiction. Either the author is completely unaware of the inestimable amount of narcotics flowing into the United States from Mexico, or is being disingenuous. The author must also be unaware of the massive call to end the drug war because it is simply ineffective. A gem from the “debunking” paragraph:

“It is hard to imagine, however, the weapons would be anywhere near as easy for criminals to obtain if they all had to be smuggled through ports, airports or across the Mexican border.”

Maybe our readers that indulge in marijuana would like to inform The Guardian whether it is easier to obtain Mexican produced pot or that crazy stuff grown in Kentucky.

Myth 7: Guns are essential for self-defense

The paragraph starts by quoting an NRA official talking about self defense, but then it stops addressing that topic and begins quoting from a gun control lobbying group’s website, while identifying it as a “nonprofit.” The quote:

“For every justifiable homicide in the United States involving a gun, guns were used in 32 criminal homicides.”

This very well may be true, but it doesn’t address the “myth.” In order for it to address the need of firearms in self-defense we would have to know how many of those 32 victims were armed. Surprise, that information is not provided. When a group affiliated with the cause in question is sourced, it should probably be disclosed that there is a conflict of interest.

Myth 8: The NRA is invincible

First, nobody believes the NRA is invincible. Second, the numbers that were used to describe the funding of the groups (which were pulled from another article by The Guardian) are well, wrong. The Guardian repeats the misstatement that all gun rights groups (including the NRA) raised just $16.3 million for the 2014 election cycle. Gun control groups are said to have raised $21.3 million.

The reality is that the NRA and NRA-affiliated groups (like the NRA Institute for Legislative Action) alone spent $28.2 million. That doesn’t even get into the 5 other non-NRA groups that are said to have been included in the numbers used by The Guardian. By misrepresenting the numbers involved, the propagandist appeals to the “bandwagon” mentality and hopes to show that gun control groups are more popular.

Myth 9: Lawmakers will be voted out of office for supporting gun control

Again, this isn’t really a pro-gun position or myth. Sometimes this happens, sometimes it doesn’t. The article brings up how the Colorado Governor kept his job after signing gun control legislation. It doesn’t mention that two of the lawmakers that supported the law he signed were yanked out of office with a recall vote before the next election could even occur.

Myth 10: Mass shootings still happen in areas with strict gun law, so gun control doesn’t work

Maybe the author just doesn’t know what the word “myth” means. Yes, mass shootings do still happen in areas where there are stiff gun control laws. That is not a myth. Gun control failed to prevent those attacks. That is not a myth. These are facts. The author even provides examples, but says they don’t count because the weapons were smuggled into the area or obtained because background checks failed. Seriously, remember earlier in this very article the author argued that background checks were “meaningful gun reform” and that weapons trafficking wouldn’t really be an issue.

“In the Navy Yard incident, the shooter legally purchased firearms in neighboring Virginia despite a criminal record and mental health issues – exposing gaps in the current background checks system. And cities like Chicago are plagued by the illegal trafficking of firearms; there is no current federal law that defines gun trafficking or straw purchasing as a crime.”

The last sentence is perhaps the best. Apparently, at this point the author just said “Screw it! I’m not researching anymore!” If straw purchases aren’t against the law, somebody needs to inform the Supreme Court because last year it ruled to uphold the ban on them. Along the way, inform the ex-cop who is serving out his 5-year probation sentence for purchasing a firearm for somebody who could legally own one. Yes, even purchasing a firearm for someone who would be able to buy it for himself is illegal. If trafficking in firearms is not a crime, somebody should definitely contact the ATF about the handout they have produced that deals with firearms trafficking. Most of the laws have been on the books for more than 40 years. They just don’t use the current buzz words to define the crimes. This statement is dishonest and shoddy. Not only is it propaganda, it’s bad propaganda.

Myth 11: Universal background checks would create a federal database of gun owners

Whether or not this is a myth would depend on the legislation proposed and how effective it is designed to be. Without the database, background checks are worthless. If a man purchases a firearm and clears the background check, then privately sells that firearm to another individual without a background check, how is law enforcement to know that individual didn’t pass the background check? There would need to be a database to check against. Otherwise, it is a complete waste of taxpayer time and money.

Sometimes propaganda can reveal more about the weaknesses in propagandist’s position than their own political talking points. In the case, a semi-respected news outlet is shown to be pandering to its traditionally anti-gun crowd. No matter your opinion on gun control, remember these propaganda tactics. You’ll see them again.

Gun control Image Source: Joe Loong, Flickr, Creative Commons

Gun control
Image Source: Joe Loong, Flickr, Creative Commons