Mainstream Media Misunderstands The Term 'Legal Guns'

Gun rights advocates have long argued that illegal guns are the problem when it comes to gun violence, not legal firearms. We argue that the guns sold in gun stores or at gun shows in accordance with all applicable regulations aren’t the ones out on the streets causing the problem.


And we’re right.

However, the anti-gun media is now trying to make us look like liars by reclassifying some guns as legal when they’re not.

ST. LOUIS – There is a particular type of crime on the rise in the St. Louis area that is making other crimes more dangerous – legal guns in the wrong hands.

“Out on the street, the stolen guns are a dime a dozen,” said Major Steve Runge of the North County Police Cooperative.

And those stolen guns come at a cost to public safety, said cops who face them on the streets.

“Stolen guns are a major problem because they fall into the hands of kids and teenagers that are just out to do bad things,” said Runge.

His department’s Facebook page tells the story of stolen guns in their part of St. Louis County – photos of dozens of stolen guns seized in just the past six months.

“That’s insane and that’s just what we seize,” said Runge of his departments haul.

“Guys go through the cars at night looking for loose change and they come across a gun they’re going to take it,” because a weapon is easy to sell for cash, Runge said, “in a heartbeat.”

“Once they get their hands on it, it can go bad in a hurry,” he said.


Here’s the problem: the moment a gun is stolen, it’s no longer a legal firearm, it’s an illegal gun.

If we classify every gun as legal simply because it was legally obtained at some point during its life, then pretty much all guns would be classified as legal firearms.

However, when a gun is stolen, it shifts in status. It goes from being a “legal” gun to being an illegal one. It becomes one of the guns we often describe as a problem because it was obtained unlawfully.

The gun itself is just a thing. It has no responsibility for its status. That falls on people. The status of a gun, whether it’s “legal” or “illegal” depends on the owner. More importantly, how said owner obtained the gun. If he or she went to a gun store and purchased the gun in accordance with the law, for example, it’s considered “legal.”

But if someone snatches it out of someone else’s car, then it’s not. Not by a longshot.

This isn’t rocket science, though. Anyone with half a brain can tell the difference between the two. So that leaves us to wonder if the reporter, in this case, lacks half a brain or is reporting according to an agenda. Frankly, it could go either way.


However, I’m not willing to offer the benefit of the doubt at such a blatant misrepresentation of facts. While the story itself–a story regarding the importance of securing your firearm to keep it out of criminals’ hands–was important and worthy, the choice of terminology seeks to convey a message that supposedly “legal” guns are being used in crimes. It was likely done in the hope that people would internalize that part without thinking critically about how that status is impacted by the rest of the information included.

It doesn’t change the facts, though. Especially the fact that a stolen gun doesn’t count as being lawfully obtained.

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