Skip to main content

10 Need-to-Know Gun Control Myths

10 Need-to-Know Gun Control Myths


Those who favor a society without gun rights seem to be prone to spreading false information. At best, anti-gun leaders unknowingly spread baseless accusations; at worst, they willingly to lie to achieve their objectives. Regardless, it is my observation that a host of gun control myths began circulating during the 1960s and continue today.

For instance, how many times have you heard President Barack Obama pushing the Manchin-Toomey gun control bill because, according to the him, 90 percent of Americans support so-called universal background checks? Well, a Pew Research poll was conducted after the Senate defeated the bill. Turns out only 47 percent of Americans are disappointed the bill failed, while 32 percent describe themselves as "very happy" or "relieved." So, Mr. President, you can quit arguing that the country is behind you on this.

If we can spread the truth about this myth now, maybe it will die. But there are other, older myths that have festered for years. Unfortunately, as the saying goes, if a lie is spread enough, it becomes the truth. Even some gun owners can start to believe the nonsense, which is particularly dangerous in the current political environment. So the next time you hear a gun-control advocate rattling off one of these myths, shock him with the truth.

Myth No. 1: A gun in the home is more likely to kill a family member than an intruder.

This is probably the most widely circulated gun control myth ever. It's been argued that a gun in the home is 43 times more likely to kill a family than an intruder. You're actually safer, argue anti-gun folks, in a gun-free home. That may help them sleep at night, but it isn't true.

Despite this myth's popularity, have you ever noticed politicians and journalists never cite a source to go along with it? Perhaps that's because it's derived from a seriously flawed 1986 report in the New England Journal of Medicine, "Protection or Peril?: An Analysis of Firearm-Related Deaths in the Home."

Most notably, the study only accounted for cases of self-defense with firearms in which the criminal was killed. If the bad guy was wounded, held at gunpoint for police or ran away, it was not included in the data. That is a rather incredible oversight since, according to Florida State criminologist Gary Kleck, criminals are only shot dead in about 1 percent of firearm-defense incidents. Fact is, according to Kleck's exhaustive research, a gun in the home is three to five times more likely to help stop a crime than commit one.

Myth No. 2: Forty percent of guns are purchased without a background check.

In pushing for "universal" background checks, Obama has repeatedly said, "As many as 40 percent of guns are purchased without a background check." Vice President Joe Biden has also pushed the stat, and their lapdogs at The New York Times, USA Today and other media outlets have reported the stat as fact without questioning the source. As professor John Lott demonstrates, the number is actually closer to 10 percent.

To reach the 40-percent number, one must count family inheritances and gifts as "purchases." The number is also based on a Clinton administration survey in which many respondents erroneously indicated they had not undergone a background check to buy a gun.

Myth No. 3: Fewer people own guns today.


Given the spate of gun buying over the last few years, it's hard to believe anyone could perpetuate this myth with a straight face. According to FBI data, there have been a rather incredible 70,291,049 background checks for gun purchases since Obama took office. Gun control advocates argue it's merely existing gun owners making all the purchasing. However, according to a 2011 Gallup poll, at least 47 percent of Americans own guns, compared to 41 percent in 1993. By most indications, gun ownership is on the rise.

Myth No. 4: Criminals obtain their weapons at gun shows.

The Brady Campaign and others have fought hard to convince us that criminals and even terrorists purchase their wares at gun shows. But what do the facts say? A Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) study from November 2001, "Firearms Use by Offenders," found only 1 percent of criminals obtained their firearms at gun shows. An earlier BJS study found that only 1.7 percent of federal inmates made their purchases at gun shows. The numbers are backed up by a National Institute of Justice survey, which found only about 2-percent of criminals bought at gun shows.

So how do most bad guys obtain their guns? They're forced to steal them.

Myth No. 5: People hardly ever use guns for self-defense.

If gun control advocates can convince the public that guns are rarely used for self-defense, then they can portray those who keep them for protection as misguided or paranoid. Fact is, according to a study by Kleck, guns are used up to 2.5 million times per year annually in the United States for armed self-defense. Often these incidents are unreported to the police or the media.

Why? In many cases the would-be victim draws a gun, the criminal immediately runs away and the event is never reported. Gun control advocates should keep in mind that self-defense doesn't necessarily involve actually shooting a criminal, as this is gun owners' last resort. There is also, of course, media bias that influences under-reporting of self-defense incidents, but we'll save that topic for another feature.

Myth No. 6: Your gun is more likely to be used against you by an attacker.

According to Kleck's book, Point Blank: Guns and Violence in America, attackers only disarm armed citizens in fewer than 1 percent of cases. This is especially true in cases of concealed carry, because the attacker often didn't realize the target was armed, had no plan to disarm him or her, and flees in search of easier prey. By contrast, according to U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics data, armed resistance against an attacker — especially with a firearm — is the most effective means to prevent injury, or to thwart robbery or assault. In other words, "just doing whatever the bad guy says," is often poor advice.

Myth No. 7: We can't trust people with concealed carry.

Those who often perpetuate this myth don't realize their state allows concealed carry — unless the individual is a citizen of Illinois. Criminals, on the other hand, do seem to notice the freedom by which the law-abiding residents of their locale can carry guns. Research by Lott, for instance, found that when shall-issue concealed carry is introduced, there are decreases in the rates of murder by 8.5 percent, rape by 5 percent and aggravated assault by 5 percent. While some academics dispute Lott's findings, most concede that concealed carry — at the very least — has not resulted in the "blood in the streets" predictions of anti-gun groups. In his story, "'More Guns, Less Crime' Thesis Rests on a Flawed Statistical Design, Scholars Argue," author David Glenn concludes: "Mr. Lott's research has convinced his peers of at least one point: No scholars now claim that legalizing concealed weapons causes a major increase in crime."

Myth No. 8: Urban areas especially need gun control.

There tend to be differing views on gun control in rural areas compared to urban centers, but it is wrong to suggest — as Obama has sometimes done — that gun control can be more effective in cities. To suggest honest American citizens living in metropolitan areas cannot be trusted with Second Amendment rights is not only misguided, but in some cases, may have racial undertones.

According to research by Lott for his book, More Guns, Less Crime, when the gun rights of a given population are restored, violent crime actually goes down. This is especially true, Lott found, for high-crime urban areas and neighborhoods with large minority populations. The greatest reduction in violent crime occurs when law-abiding citizens of the population are allowed to carry concealed handguns.

Myth No. 9: Guns teach kids to be violent.

Anyone who grew up in a gun-friendly household knows firearms teach discipline and other positive attributes. But how do we quantify that when our opponents are so willing to spread mistruths?

Well, we have studies to cite. Arguably the best is, "Patterns of Adolescent Firearms Ownership and Use," by Terence P. Thornberry, Alan J. Lizotte and James M. Tesoriero. Among other findings, the researchers found that children taught about firearms and their legitimate uses by family members have much lower rates of delinquency than children in households without guns. Additionally, R. Tonso — head of the Department of Sociology, Criminal Justice and Anthropology at the University of Evansville in Indiana — found that children introduced to guns associate them with freedom, security and recreation — not violence.

Myth No. 10: Gun control prevents crime.

We've saved the ultimate myth for last. Here are but a few examples of failed gun control policies in action:

  • Washington, D.C.'s ban on handguns (since repealed, sort of) took effect in 1977 and the city's murder rate tripled by the 1990's. According to D.C.'s own police department, every firearm murder was committed with a handgun
  • Chicago copied D.C.'s handgun ban in 1982 and, according to city data, within 10 years its handgun-related murders doubled.
  • Maryland and California have both imposed waiting periods for gun purchases and restricted sales of handguns and semi-auto rifles. Yet according to FBI Uniform Crime Reports, their murder and robbery rates that far exceed the rest of the country.

There are plenty more cases in which gun control has backfired, even as nationwide gun ownership has increased and crime has decreased.

Are ARs Doomed?

Recent tragedies involving so-called "assault weapons" has prompted more than several elected officials to call for a renewed assault weapons ban.

One proposal by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., has no expiration date — as opposed to the one passed during the Clinton Administration — and even goes so far as to name certain companies and models by name, such as Stag Arms (pictured, the Stag Arms Executive Survivor's Kit.

The Rise of Bargain Guns

In the midst of all this hubbub, all Americans are still faced with a grim economy — and that includes gun owners. Crippled by our wallets, many of us are unable to expand our collection.

Luckily, a few companies have stepped in with some modestly priced handguns, rifles and shotguns for the coming year. You don't have to break the bank to get a quality product, and these new offerings help shooters enjoy their hobby without winding up in the poorhouse.

Will High-Cap Mags Survive?

Along with semi-auto rifles, high-capacity magazines could also be on the chopping block, including 30-round magazines for the AR-15 platform, though handguns could also be affected.

Such proposals have caused unprecedented demand for high-capacity magazines before it's too late, which has in turn led to...

The Inevitable Legal Quagmire

If history has taught us anything, it's that no new law passes without a little push-back in the following months. That said, should new gun control legislation be signed into law, it will open the door for countless legal battles in statehouses across the nation regarding wording or interpretation of these new policies.

This could obviously affect gun companies, who would be forced to either shut down or restructure if an "assault weapons" ban passes.

"Until gun shops, cops, game wardens, courts and your buddies get the new facts straight, few people will know exactly what is and isn't legal. I don't think anarchy will result. Rather, law-abiding citizens attempting to do the right thing will have a permanent pain implanted in their posteriors," writes Joseph von Benedikt of our sister magazine, Shooting Times. "... There are only so many government contracts to be had, and if private-citizen sales go away, it will strangle a huge industry that provides jobs and quality products for Americans."

Industry Chaos

With the legality of certain firearms and feeding devices up in the air, demand has risen to an astronomical level, and orders are being placed faster than companies can keep up with.

Stag Arms is reporting two years worth of backlogged orders, while Smith & Wesson has $332.7 million in backlogged orders — nearly double its backlogged orders in 2011. Ammunition is also in short supply; vendors are having trouble keeping ammo in stock, and even law enforcement agencies are being affected.

'This is the largest and hardest stampeding 'buffalo herd' (tactical firearms consumers) I've ever seen in my 30-plus years in the firearms industry, ' said S.P. Fjestad of Blue Book of Gun Values. 'Are they destined to run off the cliff and plunge to their deaths? We're going to find out in the next six months. '

Current Magazine Cover

Enjoy articles like this?

Subscribe to the magazine.

Get access to everything Guns & Ammo has to offer.
Subscribe to the Magazine

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

Recent Videos

Famous for its revolvers and 1911s, Colt entered the bolt-action arena with the all-new CBX Tac Hunter. Priced at $999, ...

Training Tips and Tools

Famous for its revolvers and 1911s, Colt entered the bolt-action arena with the all-new CBX Tac Hunter. Priced at $999, ...

Simplicity vs Complexity

Famous for its revolvers and 1911s, Colt entered the bolt-action arena with the all-new CBX Tac Hunter. Priced at $999, ...

Mounting a Red Dot

Famous for its revolvers and 1911s, Colt entered the bolt-action arena with the all-new CBX Tac Hunter. Priced at $999, ...

5 Benefits of Red Dot Sights for Hunting

Famous for its revolvers and 1911s, Colt entered the bolt-action arena with the all-new CBX Tac Hunter. Priced at $999, ...

Durability Test

Famous for its revolvers and 1911s, Colt entered the bolt-action arena with the all-new CBX Tac Hunter. Priced at $999, ...

Product Spotlight - Acro P2

Famous for its revolvers and 1911s, Colt entered the bolt-action arena with the all-new CBX Tac Hunter. Priced at $999, ...

Gemtech GVAC

Famous for its revolvers and 1911s, Colt entered the bolt-action arena with the all-new CBX Tac Hunter. Priced at $999, ...

SDS Imports Tisas PX-9 Affordable Defensive Pistol

Famous for its revolvers and 1911s, Colt entered the bolt-action arena with the all-new CBX Tac Hunter. Priced at $999, ...

Walther PDP Professional Law Enforcement Exclusive Duty Pistol

Famous for its revolvers and 1911s, Colt entered the bolt-action arena with the all-new CBX Tac Hunter. Priced at $999, ...

Rossi R95 30-30 Hunting and Plinking Lever Action Rifle

Famous for its revolvers and 1911s, Colt entered the bolt-action arena with the all-new CBX Tac Hunter. Priced at $999, ...

Safariland IncogX IWB Holster: Editorial Roundtable 2023

Famous for its revolvers and 1911s, Colt entered the bolt-action arena with the all-new CBX Tac Hunter. Priced at $999, ...

New Colt CBX Tac Hunter Premium Hunting Rifle

Guns and Ammo Magazine Covers Print and Tablet Versions

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!


Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services


Buy Digital Single Issues

Magazine App Logo

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Guns & Ammo App

Other Magazines

See All Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get the top Guns & Ammo stories delivered right to your inbox every week.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Guns and Ammo subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Enjoying What You're Reading?

Get a Full Year
of Guns & Ammo
& Digital Access.

Offer only for new subscribers.

Subscribe Now