Rhetoric on Colorado Study of Gun Owners Tiptoes Around Facts

(AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

“There are three kinds of lies: Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics,” Mark Twain famously quipped. When it comes to studies and reading rhetoric on them or the findings directly, we obviously need to focus on bias. Is there a bias? A recent study based on survey results noted that “nearly half of Colorado adults live in a home with a gun” and the data returned will “be used to help guide efforts to prevent injuries and deaths.”


The survey statistic is close in line with the new national average noted by a 2023 NBC poll. NBC found that 52% of American households exercise their right to keep and bear arms. The Colorado study “estimate[s] that half of adults in Colorado grew up with a firearm in the household and just under half (45%) currently have a firearm in their home.” That number is appreciable and further results stated that “one in three adults personally own firearms.”

The rhetoric that came out from the leader of the study Erin Kelly, DrPH, MA, needs to be looked at closely. A lot of these research types will outright say something to the effect of Well, you know I’m not a policy person. I don’t have a position one way or another. I just gather the data. I’m not saying that’s the case with Kelly, but I will note that there are rabid anti-gun, anti-civil liberty so-called “researchers” that can be connected to Kelly by one degree of separation who do say things like that.

What did Kelly have to say?

“While discussion about firearms and what is best to prevent firearm misuse can be contentious, we all agree that we don’t want anyone to be injured or die from firearms,” Kelly says. “These data help demonstrate the diverse backgrounds, opinions, and perspectives of Coloradans in a frontier state where many were raised with or have access to firearms.”

One of the primary reasons such discussions are so “contentious” is that people like Kelly do not start the conversation with several facts that they should be repeating. Primarily, Kelly and her colleagues would probably garner more respect if they said something like We know and understand that gun ownership is a civil liberty, therefore we’ll actively advocate that no laws or policies will ever infringe on those rights coming from our data. No such thing is ever said by these non-policy makers. They sit on their hands, shrug, and repeat time and time again that they’re just the messengers gathering the data.


More of what Kelly stated in the reporting points to some of the very reasons why everything being said needs to be shredded and tossed out. Ignored.

Kelly also notes the lack of data on firearm experiences and injury broadly. “This inaugural survey shows Colorado’s commitment to building out data infrastructure on the perception of firearms,” she says. “This project resonates with FIPI’s approach to conduct collaborative work with impacted communities. We have to listen to what Coloradans think, want, and need in order to prevent firearm-involved injuries and deaths. This initiative will help move Colorado forward.”

About that lack of data? Well, they did a study! So there’s data, right? I looked through ALL of the available data and they are not being forthright. There’s some saccharine wool being pulled over everyone’s eyes. ALL of their numbers are in percentages. Nowhere did I see the number of participants.

Good for you. You did a study. And it means bupkis because you’re not being transparent with your findings.

More findings that are supposed to shock readers, but not really, because it’s just the data – right? Well, their “facts” say that:

Over one in three (35%) households with firearms leave at least one firearm loaded and stored outside of a locked container or mechanism.

Okay, who said that’s a bad thing? That’s the inference – especially if you look at the two one-pagers they put out (one and two). Kelly does say it though. She said that:


…unloading firearms and putting them in locking containers is the gold standard for protecting against theft, unauthorized access, and preventing firearm injury and deaths. She says FIPI wants to see the number of firearms that stored outside of locked containers reduced.

Kelly nor any other so-called researcher acknowledges that in DC v. Heller, storage laws and mandates were found unconstitutional. Then why is Kelly taking all this and saying, “The results have very rich data for policymakers, local and state governments or agencies, nonprofits, and communities,” without stating that any policy that infringes on the Second Amendment would be abhorrent.

The firearm research industry – and it is a big industry – is not fooling the people who are paying attention. Yeah, the people who read the news articles on the big study that they want to do every other year might take the talking points hook, line, and sinker, but those savvy to their game know otherwise. There’s big money in this field and a lot of quack and crack coming from alleged experts.

Things to look out for in messaging and rhetoric from alleged non-biased researchers:

  1. Gun safety, we all know it is a euphemism for gun control.
  2. Safe storage, is weasel words for disarmed. We need to implement “responsible storage,” that is whatever works for an individual household – not Kelly’s “gold standard.” There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to storage and Kelly, et.al. need to preach that.
  3. Credible messengers, are people that the anti-gun propagandists will use to shill out their gun control rhetoric to gun owners. The results of this study allows “practitioners to tailor future messaging and campaigns.” But they need to be credible – Ie. an Army General to former military members, or I dunno Dylan Mulvaney to those weird kids in N.J. using litter boxes in the classroom.
  4. Violence risk, something we’re supposed to talk to our neighbors or other parents about – whatever the heck that’s supposed to look like. Picture yourself saying to your neighbor, “Bob, can I talk to you about violence risk…”
  5. Public health issue, another way the political elite and pseudo-academia will paint an issue involving crime and quality of life as something the white coats – not white hats – should be solving. It’s a pandemic!

The fact is that 66% of deaths due to firearms are suicides. The Colorado study stated that “76% of firearm deaths from 2017–21 were firearm suicides” in the state.

I’m 100% in favor of causing a pause, giving gun owners ways to help themselves. I support gun owner-led initiatives to mitigate suicide risk and come up with sailent solutions to helping those in need. 

Walk the Talk America and Hold My Guns are two organizations that are friends of Bearing Arms and are spearheaded by gun owners, with gun owners in mind. These groups are not interested in the next big research check or position at a state university’s so-called gun violence research center. They’re actually interested in saving lives and they’ve turned to the industry and fellow Second Amendment advocates for support.

What the researchers should be doing is looking into why so many people in this country want to end their own lives. We teach safe sex so that we don’t have to treat people for STDs. Precaution is always better than cure. I’ll put faith in these researchers and our government when they have an honest conversation that revolves around people not wanting to kill themselves in the first place and talk about quality of life improvement.

What about those lies, damned lies, and statistics?

“I’m hoping community members and organizations can take the results and find ways to use them to inform change in their homes and communities,” Kelly says. “For example, parents can find ways to talk to other parents about firearm injury and violence risk, and community organizations can use it to guide prevention programs and initiatives. This survey is a step toward getting Coloradans’ voices out there and moving forward the conversation on preventing injuries and deaths.”


Coloradans’ voices and opinions have zero leverage against a civil liberty. The picture can be painted a million ways and this is just another art form anti-gun zealots use. Here they try to persuade the population that gun ownership is not a civil right but rather a public health blight.

I doubt the next study will start off with line one reading, “We had x number of participants.” I doubt the researchers would be forthright with their information. I may request the number of participants, but does it really matter? They’ve decided to not include it. This study, along with so many, lacks academic integrity and I invite everyone to challenge anything these non-policy makers say. 

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