Reality And Rhetoric: How Anti-Gun Bias Distorts Truth

By now, the typical Bearing Arms reader understands that the media isn’t necessarily to be trusted. Especially when it comes to the subject of guns. The media presents a particularly biased view of self-defense in particular.


You see, most people who buy guns do it for self-defense. They’re worried about being the victim of a crime and they want to be able to defend themselves if that happens.

The media, however, present that as nothing more than paranoia. As The Heritage Foundation’s Amy Swearer notes over at The Daily Signal:

Gun control advocates long have controlled the narrative about defensive uses of firearms, calling the “good guy with a gun” scenario a “myth meant to scare people into buying guns for self-defense.”

This is a false narrative that does not reflect reality.

Despite a backdrop of rhetoric asserting that “the average person … has basically no chance in their lifetime ever to use a gun in self-defense,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in a 2013 report concluded that studies routinely find that Americans use firearms in defense of themselves or others between 500,000 and 3 million times every year.

Data collected by the CDC itself, but long hidden from the public, indicates that the number is likely around 1 million defensive gun uses per year. But even the lowest end of this statistical range far outpaces the number of times Americans use firearms for unlawful purposes.

In fairness, the narrative isn’t completely false. It’s just a distorted truth, like all good lies.

You see, the average person does have a very low likelihood of needing a firearm for self-defense. If 1 million people use a gun for self-defense purposes, and there are 330 million people in the country, then a large number of those people will never need to point their firearms at another human being.


But the problem with the rhetoric is that it ignores some simple facts.

For one, you don’t get to decide if you’re one of the unlucky few or not. Bad guys get the initiative. They pick the time and place for an armed encounter. The law-abiding citizen doesn’t, so they’re already at a disadvantage. Because of that, we can’t look at things well-beforehand and determine we’ll need a gun. No one gets to look into the future and say, “Oh, these thugs are going to jump me on October 18, 2019, so I better have a gun.”

That means we need to take precautions against that unlikely but terrifying circumstance. That’s because as many as 3 million people may find themselves glad they’re carrying a gun.

The truth is, the CDC could also look at house fires. Fire departments respond to approximately 355,400 house fires each year. Many of these are put out by homeowners before the fire department arrives. Many times it’s already too late.

However, keep in mind that there are far fewer house fires than the lowest number of defensive gun uses reported above. Yet who thinks it’s ridiculous to keep a fire extinguisher handy? No one. It’s simple prudence. Fires may be rare, but they’re horrific. Again, you don’t get to choose whether or not you’ll need an extinguisher, so you keep one in handy just in case.

The parallel between guns and fire extinguishers is a common one, but for good reason. It’s quite applicable.


When the media reports that you’re unlikely to need a gun for self-defense, they might as well be telling you that you’re unlikely to need an extinguisher. Yet any news organization who told the public such a thing would be blasted for endangering people.

The media’s attempt to frame guns as unnecessary is nothing more than an effort to undermine the self-defense argument. They seem to believe that if they can convince the public that self-defense isn’t really a consideration, they’ll turn their back on the Second Amendment as a whole. Maybe they’re right. I hope we never find out, though.

After all, how much worse would our violent crime rate be if those 500,000 to 3 million Americans each year couldn’t defend themselves?

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