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NRA's Wayne LaPierre holding two handguns
Careful where you point that!
Earlier today, Mother Jones published a piece debunking the NRA mythology around guns and self-defense. Although gun enthusiasts like to claim that their weapons have prevented millions of crimes, the Violence Policy Center's new report demolishes this notion with data, which Mother Jones has thoughtfully rendered into interactive charts.

The Mother Jones article is worth the read just for the charts, but I'll try to sum up the busted myths here.

For example, justifiable homicide. Compared to criminal homicides using guns, the VPC data shows justifiable homicide with a gun in 2010 was a tiny fraction: 230 of them compared to 8,275 criminal gun-related homicides.

MJ also points out how the gun lobby claims around 2.5 million instances of 'defensive gun use' or self-defense using a gun. The comparison to federal crime data from the Department of Justice's National Crime Victimization Survey, in chart form, is downright ridiculous. The federal crime data from 2007-2011 tallies 338,700 uses of guns in self-defense, but if you believe the gun lobby, that number should be 12,500,000 -- more than 36 times as many. Lies, damn lies and statistics, eh?

The comparison for victims of violent crime looks even worse for the NRA.

Guns are used for self defense (both successfully and unsuccessfully) by less than 1 percent of all violent crime victims:
235,700 who used a gun in self-defense, compared to the total number of crime victims, almost 30 million.
 
Wayne LaPierre being rudely interrupted by reality
A gun enthusiast at this point might despair, that so many instruments of freedom languish in gun safes and on nightstands, gathering dust. Alas, that may not be the case, either. The annual average of guns used in self-defense is 67,600, vs. 232,400 guns that are stolen. So that trusty weapon is about 3 and a half times more likely to get thieved than to be used to carry out a heroic fantasy.

The MJ article concludes with a twist, debunking the NRA's latest push to encourage more gun use among women, and by "use" I suppose I should say they want more women to buy guns.

In another twist on the self-defense argument, the NRA likes to claim that women in particular need guns to guard against bullies and rapists. But crime statistics unearthed by the Violence Policy Center indicate that only about 10 percent of those who shoot people in self defense are women:
In 2010, 205 justifiable homicides by men, 24 for women. Not that this should come as a shock to anyone. But the gun lobby is working hard to extract more dollars for the gun industry from women, and although the data is sketchy, supposedly it's working. So these numbers may well go up...although I'm not sure I would call it an improvement for more people to die, even criminals.
Gun sales to women have risen in concert. In a survey last year by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, 73 percent of gun dealers said the number of female customers had gone up in 2011, as had a majority of retailers surveyed in the two previous years.

Manufacturers have increasingly geared advertising toward women, marketing special firearms models with smaller frames, custom colors (pink is a favorite), and accessories like the “concealed carry” “salmon kiss” leather handbag offered by Cobra Firearms or the leopard shooting gloves and Bullet Rosette jewelry sold by Sweet Shot (“Look cute while you shoot!” is the company’s motto).

Hello Kitty style Kel-Tec PLR16
¿Quien Es Mas Macho?
Well, there was one bright side to that article from the NYT. A woman quoted for it mentions owning a pink gun: “It’s not my favorite color, but I bought it because now my husband never touches it.”

Originally posted to The Tytalan Way on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 10:42 AM PDT.

Also republished by Shut Down the NRA and Repeal or Amend the Second Amendment (RASA).

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