By Larry Keane, National Shooting Sports Foundation
When a pre-set story narrative meets formulaic writing, you get the worst of both worlds. The latest example is evident in “10 things the gun industry won’t tell you ,” recently served up by MarketWatch, formerly a property of CBS, but now part of News Corp through its acquisition of the Wall Street Journal, but absent the seasoned editorial judgment that used to be synonymous with that brand.
The whole approach is an artifice when applied to anything more than a straightforward customer purchase or client services relationship, far better in concept for “10 things your Realtor won’t tell you” for which this approach is usually applied. There’s far too much wrong in this piece to respond to point for point. Besides, the thousand-plus overwhelmingly critical comments posted in response did a good job of identifying the selective use of data and inaccuracies. But for the sake of the record, let us take on four of the things the gun industry supposedly “won’t tell you.”
1. “Owning our product may be hazardous to your health.”
The piece reported the gun-control community’s favored aggregate number of “people killed by firearms” without separating suicides and deaths of those involved in criminal activities. And while being dismissive of “gun owners (who) say that having a gun in the house makes them feel safe and empowered to confront threats” the piece, unsurprisingly, did not cite the largely unreported President Obama-ordered Centers for Disease Control (CDC) study issued in June 2013 that found both that armed citizens are less likely to be injured by an attacker and defensive uses of guns are common.
2. “Fear is good for our bottom line”
In contrast to what many gun-control advocates do to instill public fear, we take the opposite approach and have pointed out on numerous occasions, using government data. that “crime is down”. We are not stoking fear, quite the opposite. But we do speak out in support of citizens who seek to exercise their Supreme Court affirmed, Second Amendment right to have a firearm for self-defense. So do the Police Chief of Detroit, the Milwaukee County Sheriff and bulk of law enforcement officials across the country.
3. “Guns get special treatment under the law”
While gun-control proponents often tout this argument, firearms are heavily regulated, but like cars, boats and airplanes, it’s not by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) regulates Federal Firearms Licensed (FFL) dealers. All are required to keep meticulous records of all firearms acquired and sold. Federal laws govern how and under what conditions a firearm may be sold. Federal law requires manufacturers to include an indelible serial number on all firearms and keep records of the date of manufacture, type of firearm and to whom it was sent. The ATF routinely traces firearms used in crime by contacting the manufacturer and recreating the chain of distribution. In total, an estimated 20,000 federal, state and local gun laws are on the books. Some of these laws cover individual buyers; some govern what can be made and sold.
4. “We want your kids to play with guns.”
This is perhaps the most intelligence-insulting of the “things”. Millions of young Americans are introduced to firearms safely every year through family members, the Boy Scouts and 4-H, and that they go on to enjoy hunting and target shooting with their families and friends for years to come. None of this constitutes “playing with guns.”
On behalf of the industry, we developed and have distributed millions of pieces of safety literature and, through Project ChildSafe alone, more than 36 million gun locks. Any accidental death involving firearms is a tragedy, all the the more so when a child is involved. The medical journal article cited, however, suggested alarming numbers of children accidentally injured by firearms when, in actuality, the study mostly tracked violence among young men. The vast majority of the incidents included in the study, 84 percent, involve individuals 15-19 years old. This is anti-gun agenda-driven conflation. During the last decade, the number of unintentional firearm-related fatalities involving children 14 years of age and under has decreased by 49 percent and over the last 20 years by 78 percent.
You get the picture. The other six “things” are so contrived, ridiculous, slanted or otherwise previously addressed by the industry that it does not merit more of your time to read about them, but we provide the link at the beginning of this post, if you’re so inclined. After doing so, we expect that MarketWatch will not join your “favorites” list.
Larry Keane is the VP and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.