In a report by The Atlantic, the Pew Research Center released a study indicating a significant drop in America’s gun violence, but there’s a flipside. The Pew study also suggests that the population thinks that gun violence is getting worse.
There’s an obvious disconnect here. With all this data, why are some still thinking that gun violence is getting worse? The Atlantic points out that “mass shootings invariably weigh more heavily on the public psyche than lone gun deaths.” Media in the last year has certainly had no shortage of headlines when it comes to gun murders; with the movie theater shootings in Colorado, the Sandy Hook shootings, and, although a lone murder, the case of Trayvon Martin.
These events received constant media attention in the wake of their happening. Perhaps that’s the connection. They certainly resonated with the public as, less than a month ago, 90 percent of the populace supported extended background checks for gun purchases.
The Pew study found that gun murders dipped nearly 50 percent since 1993 when gun crimes were at their peak with 7 homicides per 100,000 people of all ages. That number now is around 3.6. Non-fatal gun violence dropped even more, 72 percent over the last 20 years or from 725 per 100,000 people to 181.
However, despite this sharp drop in gun-related crimes, a survey conducted by Pew between March 14-17 indicated that 56 percent of those surveyed think that gun crime has gone up over the last 20 years. Even worse, the National Rifle Association uses the media any chance it gets its gun-powdered fingertips on to boost its pro-gun propaganda.
Recently, they have used the Sandy Hook shootings to argue for using armed guards in schools, turning elementary schools into militarized zones. This notion is a far cry from what the NRA’s notorious spokesperson, Wayne LaPierre, said after the Columbine shootings in 1999: “we believe in absolutely gun-free, zero-tolerance, totally safe schools. That means no guns in America’s schools, period.” To top it off, there’s this near-collective belief that the “gun-control hysteria” is dictated by, what the NRA is calling, the “Connecticut Effect.”
A Wisconsin NRA lobbyist went down as saying “that they were waiting for the ‘Connecticut Effect’ to wear off before pushing more pro-gun laws.” But has the so-called “Connecticut Effect” really slowed down the NRA? The NRA was able to successfully lobby against expanded background checks despite overwhelming support from the public.
The NRA uses filthy tactics to push their vicious dogma on people already in fear. They use confusion and desperation on the confused and desperate, to persuade them to believe that the answer to gun violence, is more guns. Fighting fire with fire is not always a good tactic. Sometimes, it can burn down a whole town.
Joshua de Leon is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire.