We’re here to debunk some misconceptions about gun owners.
Anyone watching the news or reading the paper, especially the past few years, has seen a lot of ideas on gun ownership, and many of them are inaccurate.
View the list below to see the top 10 misconceptions about gun owners, and let us know what you think in the comments.
They Hate or Fear the Government
Gun control proponents love to mock a common fear among gun owners that the government wants to collect their guns from them (which has been proposed), and many gun owning extremists do have a distrust of the government, healthy or not.
Regardless, most gun owners, like most Americans, love their country and are only expressing concerns about preserving a right already guaranteed to them by their government in the Second Amendment. Add in that some of the most politically active gun owners are veterans with a long history of serving their country and government and this idea really starts to erode. In short, most gun owners don’t hate the government, they just know they can’t rely on them to protect them in every situation.
Many criminals own guns, but one doesn’t make the other. Gun owners will often say that if you outlaw guns, only outlaws will have guns, and the reason they often own guns themselves is to legally defend themselves from armed criminals if needed.
There are of course several laws in places to prevent those with records from purchasing a firearm, and extensive background checks are required upon each purchase. Gun holders can also be remarkably law-abiding. Of all the convicted crimes in Texas in 2012, less than 0.2 percent were committed by those holding a concealed carry license.
They’re Intensely Religious
Critics often say gun owners cling to religion, as President Obama famously remarked on the campaign trail. The truth is gun owners come from a variety of creeds, and while their religion may guide their values, including the importance of protecting their family and loved ones, that does not mean it is always the reason they purchase a gun.
They’re Violent and Trigger-Happy
This may be the most harmful and inaccurate misconception out there. While many gun owners enjoy shooting their firearms at ranges or while hunting, there is a constant focus on safety and only using your firearms as legally intended. Gun owners are taught from the outset, such as when they take a concealed carry class, that guns are a last resort only and every action should be taken to deescalate a conflict and find a peaceful resolution.
And while gun ownership has been steadily increasing over the years, violent crime has actually gone down. It seems that there is not enough of a link between gun owners and violence, and in many cases, owning a gun can even make a situation less violent.
They’re Politically Active and Conservative
While it certainly appears that more Republicans and conservatives support gun ownership, it’s important to know that gun owners themselves come from all walks of life and political backgrounds and have a number of reasons for owning a gun.
A recent study found barely half of all gun owners were Republican. And like any citizen on any issue, gun owners do not always feel they are being well represented by the politicians or groups which claim to speak for them.
Many people believe gun owners only use their firearms for hunting, leading many gun control proponents to try and ease in laws by assuring opponents that hunting would be protected.
But US gun owners outnumbered hunters 5 to 1 in 2011, giving the obvious conclusion that while most hunters may be gun owners, most gun owners aren’t hunters. All the same, hunting and gun ownership do share many of the same values, including self-reliance and responsibility, and both groups feel strongly about preserving their rights to own guns.
We’ve all seen the stereotype of the uneducated toothless hillbilly on his front porch, armed with more guns than books. The tradition of gun ownership is strong in certain parts of the country, which can often carry their own stereotypes, and some will often try and link these two in order to degrade gun owners.
However, studies show that gun owners are pretty evenly split among their education level. Regardless of formal education, anyone who has actually shot a gun with accuracy, let alone had to disassemble and reassemble one, will tell you it takes much more intelligence and discipline than the movies portray.
They are Machine Gun Enthusiasts
First of all, it’s important to note that very, very few gun owners legally own what might be called a “machine gun,” as fully automatic weapons have been banned for citizen use since the 1934 National Firearms Act. The gun most often cited as a “machine gun” or an “assault rifle” in the media is the AR-15, and it is in fact a semi-automatic, meaning one bullet is shot for every trigger pull, the same as the majority of firearms on the market.
The AR-15 is also rarely used in crimes, and possessed by a small fraction of gun owners.
They are Crazy
It’s unclear where this misconception came from, but the number of criminal shootings done by mentally-unstable individuals may have led some to overgeneralize.
The truth is typical gun owners are not only as sane as you or me, their mental capacity is frequently evaluated before they are allowed to own a gun and possession of a firearm by the mentally ill is highly regulated in all states. Gun owners are well aware of the danger of someone with mental issues owning a gun, and believe some of the most effective gun laws would be aimed towards more closely regulating their access.
They are Paranoid or Insecure
Some claim that gun owners are paranoid about defending themselves against unlikely dangers, or even insecure in their own manliness. Gun owners may throw back that those that don’t own a gun are naive about what might threaten them and unprepared to face it if and when it appears. While self-defense is only one of many reasons people purchase a gun, most hope they never have to use it, and most never will. But cases definitely exist where guns have undoubtedly saves the lives of their owner and his/her loved ones. It’s up to the individual on if and how they want to prepare.
Gun owners may share some similarities, but with 37 percent of Americans saying someone in their household owns a gun, there’s also bound to be plenty of variety. Regardless of where you live and what do, gun owners are likely among your friends, family, and colleagues, and furthering misconceptions about them only serves to alienate people from one another.