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Photo courtesy of CNN

Ten Alternative Facts Trump and the NRA are Selling America

The NRA and their Mouthpiece-in-Chief are misleading the American people. But what else is new?

“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

We have heard it over and over again. But the problem is…it’s just not true. There are very few instances of an armed civilian stopping a mass shooting. In fact, “good guys with guns” can often make a situation more dangerous.

During an active shooting situation, a gun in the hand of a civilian adds more confusion and chaos to an already chaotic situation. When civilians are armed, law enforcement officers may have trouble distinguishing between the “good guys with guns” and “bad guys with guns.” Indeed, during the 2015 Umpqua Community College massacre, armed students did not act because they worried about being mistaken for the “bad guy.”

In July 2016, roughly 20 to 30 individuals were open carrying weapons in Dallas when shooting broke out during a peaceful protest. The presence of dozens of armed individuals created chaos as the attack unfolded. As Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said, “ In the middle of a firefight, it’s hard to pick out the good guys and the bad guys.”

“Guns protect our children.”

Since the horrific tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the gun lobby has been trying to push guns into our schools and daycare centers. President Trump has said he intends to eliminate all “gun-free zones” — including schools.

In reality, guns make our children’s lives more dangerous. Data shows that more children die from firearms in states where guns are more prevalent. In 2015, nearly eight children and teens were killed by guns every single day, and most firearms used in unintentional or self-inflicted gun deaths among children and teens originate either from the victim’s home or the home of a friend or relative.

According to The American Academy of Pediatrics, “the absence of guns from children’s homes and communities is the most reliable and effective measure to prevent firearm-related injuries in children and adolescents.”

“The murder rate in our country is the highest it’s been in 45+ years.”

Earlier this month, President Trump incorrectly stated that the murder rate in our country is the highest it’s been in 45+ years.

Trump also used this alt-fact on the campaign trail. It wasn’t true then, and it isn’t true now. Despite a slight uptick in 2016, the murder rate is actually at one of its lowest points in the last 45 years.

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“Gun violence prevention = confiscation.”

Whenever the sitting administration is not on their side, the NRA loves to perpetuate the conspiracy theory that “jackbooted government thugs” are coming to take law-abiding Americans’ guns from them. They promulgate this myth to ramp up gun sales and line the pockets of gun manufacturers.

Fear sells, and the NRA knows this well. Gun sales surged over the last eight years — likely because the NRA told their followers that President Obama was coming to disarm them. Remind us how that turned out?

“Background checks don’t work.”

It’s a difficult concept for President Trump to grasp, but it turns out that when you make it harder for dangerous and violent individuals to get guns, it actually curbs gun violence.

States that require universal background checks on all gun sales, including private sales, have lower homicide rates, lower suicide rates, lower rates of women shot by intimate partners, and fewer police officers killed by guns.

“An armed society is a polite society.”

There is no evidence to suggest that an armed society minimizes gun violence. In fact, many of the states with the weakest gun laws also have the highest rates of gun violence.

Multiple studies have shown that those carrying guns are more prone to behavior that would be considered anything but polite. States that have controversial “stand-your-ground” laws are linked to a 7 to 9 percent increase in homicides.

“Guns make all of us safer — especially women.”

Research shows that “…regardless of storage practice, type of gun, or number of firearms in the home, having a gun in the home (is) associated with an increased risk of firearm homicide and firearm suicide in the home.” Guns do not make homes safer — in fact, they endanger the individuals living in the home.

And despite the NRA’s best attempts to tell women that guns protect them, the facts tell a different story. More than half of all women murdered in the United States are killed by an intimate partner with a gun, and the chance of being murdered by an abusive partner increases five fold if there is a gun in the home. Women in the U.S. are 11 times more likely to be killed by a gun than women in other high income countries. What was that about keeping women safe, President Trump?

“Mental illness causes gun violence.”

Research shows that mental illness alone is not a significant risk factor for interpersonal violence, and only four percent of interpersonal violence is attributable to mental illness alone.

In fact, individuals living with mental illness are more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators. Rather than focusing on mental illness, we should be looking at policies that use evidence-based risk factors for dangerousness, such as a history of violence or substance abuse.

“More Americans are buying guns.”

There are more guns than people in the United States. During the Obama years, we saw increased media coverage about soaring gun sales; these stories implied that non-gun-owning Americans were deciding to arm themselves.

This is not the case. While until recently, gun sales have been steadily increasing, individual households with guns are on the decline; roughly two-thirds of American households are gun-free. This indicates that existing gun owners are stockpiling more and more firearms, with nearly half of America’s guns concentrated in the hands of three percent of Americans.

“There is nothing we can do to prevent firearm suicides.”

Suicide deaths comprise nearly two-thirds of the annual gun deaths in the United States, and firearms are the most frequently used method of suicide. The gun lobby often minimizes or dismisses gun suicides as inevitable; they say gun violence prevention policies don’t prevent firearm suicides. But research shows this is not the case.

Access to firearms is associated with increased suicide risk, and data shows that where there are more firearms, there are more suicides. Suicides can be prevented by removing firearms by far the most lethal method of suicide — from an individual in suicidal crisis.

Suicide attempts often occur during a temporary moment of crisis. A recent study showed that one in four survivors of a suicide attempt deliberated for less than 5 minutes before their attempt; nine out of ten deliberated less than a day. The immediate availability of a gun makes an impulsive choice lethal — once the trigger is pulled, there is no turning back. Nine out of ten individuals who survive a suicide attempt do not go on to die from suicide. Guns do not provide a second chance. The means available to those in crisis matter.

In the post-truth era of American politics, Trump and the NRA will keep selling their alternative facts. And we will be here to correct them.

The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (CSGV) is a 501(c)(4) organization founded in 1974. We are the nation’s oldest gun violence prevention organization.

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