The Corner

Politics & Policy

The Absurdly Inaccurate Stereotype That Will Not Die

ATLANTA, Ga. — It’s something of a tradition with the National Rifle Association’s Annual Meeting – some local journalist or activist claims that bringing roughly 80,000 gun owners and Second Amendment advocates to a city for a convention increases the risk of a shooting.

This year the cry from an anti-gun activist was, “Scores of angry, anti-government gun addicts will converge in Atlanta this weekend! Secret Service, remain vigilant!”

Not only has there never been a shooting at an NRA Annual Meeting, crime in the city usually goes down during that weekend. (If you were a mugger, would you try robbing NRA Convention attendees?)

In 2010, Captain Jeff Estes, commander of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department’s Central Division, said “crime for the week was 45 percent lower than the same week a year ago.”

In 2014, Indianapolis Police reported the city had the significantly fewer problems with teen violence on the Saturday the convention was in town compared to the previous three weekends. Last year in Louisville, crime downtown declined, although it’s worth mentioning that the most of the NRA events were held at the convention center some distance from downtown. (A considerable number of NRA meeting attendees stayed in hotels downtown.)

Some reporters keep being surprised when they meet a gun owner who doesn’t remind them of Yosemite Sam, leading to coverage that is both kinder than expected and more than a little condescending. A correspondent for Louisville’s alternative weekly, attending last year’s convention and describing his encounter with a helpful representative of a gun sight manufacturer: “Jon was friendly and warm, not someone you’d immediately assume to be packing heat. And all signs pointed toward him being, ya know, a good guy.”

Wonderful! Don’t be so surprised! 

Yet nothing seems to be enough dispel the preconceived notion that gun owners are aspiring mass murderers.

George Kennedy, professor emeritus at the University of Missouri, wrote a few days ago:

Which organization is more dangerous to Americans — ISIS or the NRA?

What makes ISIS so feared is its willingness to kill in pursuit of its goal of creating a fundamentalist caliphate.

What makes the NRA so feared is its willingness to spend heavily and campaign aggressively in pursuit of its goal of removing all restrictions on the possession and use of firearms just about anywhere by just about anyone.

In our country, the NRA is a lot closer to meeting its goal.

America’s gun owners: worse than ISIS!

Then again, perhaps he’s just emulating the contempt he’s seen from other high-profile figures, who describe America’s gun owners as just itching for the chance to use deadly force to resolve mundane disputes:

“At the rate we’re going, we’re going to have so many people with guns everywhere, fully licensed, fully validated, in settings where [one] could be in a movie theater, and they don’t like someone chewing gum loudly or talking on their cell phone and decide they have the perfect right to defend themselves against the gum chewer or cell phone user by shooting.”

That was Hillary Clinton in May 2014.


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