Gun ownership has risen to an all-time high. Accidental shooting deaths have fallen 48% since 1999
Baffled. That’s the best way to describe the reaction by the liberal media outlets when they discover that statistics for accidental gun deaths are down, even as the number of Americans owning guns is at an all-time high. But somehow these media outlets, and their compatriots in groups like Michael Bloomberg’s so-called Everytown for Gun Safety, always have the answer: Despite the fact that many attempts by anti-gun politicians to enact more restrictions on Second Amendment-protected rights have failed, according to them, we can ultimately thank gun control for the decrease in accidents.
When you dig into the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) statistics, the number of accidental shooting deaths since 1999 hasn’t merely declined—it has dropped off significantly. Taking into account population growth, the number of deaths is down by a whopping 48 percent! It certainly is a statistic to celebrate, and one would imagine we’d know exactly how and why this plummet has occurred.
According to Los Angeles Times contact reporter Kurtis Lee, “Experts attribute the decline to a mix of gun-safety education programs, state laws regulating gun storage in homes and a drop in the number of households that have guns.”
Who are those “experts”? Everytown for Gun Safety is of course at the top of Lee’s list. We know it as the organization that makes a mockery of real gun safety. Responsible gun owners know that safely storing firearms when they are not in use is key in preventing unauthorized access and accidental deaths. We know this because of true firearm safety education programs, not laws in some anti-gun states that take firearm storage mandates to the extreme.
What about the population of responsible gun owners in America? These “experts” also cite victory in the reduction in the number of households with guns. Yet fbi statistics from the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (nics) indicate otherwise. When looking at the same period, 1999-2015, the number of background checks more than doubled, from 9,138,123 checks in 1999 to 23,141,970 in 2015. The numbers for 2016 and 2017 are also up from 2015, with nics stats reporting more than 25 million checks for each year.
Of the three reasons listed, Dr. Robert B. Young, of Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership, says that gun-safety education programs are most likely the real reason for the decrease.
“Thanks to the NRA, NSSF, SAF and countless state and local organizations and gun clubs, millions of people each year learn real gun control and safe shooting, and enjoy it,” Young said. “Reaching children through schools, Scouting and places of worship with programs teaching safety at relevant developmental levels is the optimal intervention.”
We know that despite its name, Everytown isn’t about gun safety. The group has stolen the term to cloak gun control initiatives. Real gun-safety programs go beyond social media shares and advertisements. Real programs educate. Teaching gun owners about safe storage practices and providing resources for parents and educators to talk about firearms and firearm safety with children through programs like the Eddie Eagle GunSafe program is having a positive effect.
How long might it be before the words “gun,” “firearm,” or “ammunition” become so monitored that we are no longer able to use them to connect with each other?
The Washington Examiner recently reported another reason for the decline in accidental gun deaths—one that has gun control advocates especially worried. A recent article highlights the “2017 gun sales surprise: Second best ever!” citing the increased social acceptance of firearms for a rise in sales.
Despite what the anti-gunners tell you, with 25 million background checks in 2017 and the increasingly powerful influence of social media over the past few years, American gun ownership is not declining. Concealed-carry permits and programs are on the rise, and training opportunities for ccw holders, such as the new NRA Carry Guard program, have increased as well.
Perhaps even more disconcerting to groups like Moms Demand Action is the fact that firearm ownership is not exclusively male. The number of women using guns is also growing, and shooting groups like The Well Armed Woman and A Girl and A Gun are thriving. Resources like NRA Women and Women’s Outdoor News are connecting with women from all walks of life, answering their questions and providing valuable information to help educate those interested in learning more about guns, personal protection and the shooting sports.
There is strength in numbers, and many gun owners no longer feel the need to be secretive. Where it can be taboo to talk about firearms at work or face-to-face, the rise of social media has provided an outlet. More and more, we’re seeing gun owners proudly share targets from range time sessions as well as their personal firearm interests by posting on their Facebook pages and sharing photos and videos on their Twitter and Instagram accounts.
Social media influencers aren’t just limited to actors, singers or beauty gurus. Gun influencers are also sharing their experiences on the range along with the importance of shooting sports, firearm safety programs and training opportunities. Even at the individual level, a simple “like” on a firearm manufacturer’s post or page is making it easier for lawful gun owners to identify one another and connect in ways never before possible.
Because of the virtual communities being built and growing on YouTube channels, blogs, Facebook groups and Instagram feeds, gun owners can now go beyond a Google search to find answers to their questions from real people they can interact with. As a result, they are discovering a thriving and knowledgeable firearm community that once existed solely at ranges or in gun clubs.
This community is also dedicated to the preservation of rights and the knowledge that firearm safety is deeply connected with those rights. Its members are quick to share the importance of real gun safety. In many ways, it polices those who don’t use firearms safely through exposure. Social sharing trumps anti-gun media efforts in a real and personal way. This is terrifying for organizations that wish to control the narrative and, ultimately, control you.
Of course, media and gun control groups also use social media—and it’s often backed by anti-gun advertising dollars. Unlike those who use their influence and leadership to educate others about firearm safety rules and practices, a critical look exposes how these sites are centered solely around gun control activism. You won’t find basic firearm safety rules listed on any of their sites or accounts. They are anything but resources for education about firearm safety practices.
Social media is still a thriving forum for free expression. Slowly but surely, however, we are seeing more controls placed on how we can use it. Pro-gun voices are being silenced on YouTube, with channels locked down or deleted. How long might it be before the words “gun,” “firearm,” or “ammunition” become so monitored that we are no longer able to use them to connect with each other?
The increasingly common idea that the truth can vary from person to person is equally dangerous to our rights. The media and Hollywood thrive on creating and storytelling such falsehoods, and these “personal” or media truths are in some cases becoming more important than the real truth. Case in point, the L.A. Times cited reasons for the decline in both accidental gun deaths and the number of gun owners in the United States. Can we now expect to see a whole new level of activism through entertainment—one that dictates how we should feel and what we should believe through the “personal” truths of those who fight for gun control? Despite box office failures like “Miss Sloane,” Hollywood is tenacious.
The success our gun community has with connecting one gun owner to another might be ignored, but it cannot be denied. We don’t rely on “personal” truths, but the real truth based on facts and statistics. As social media begins to regulate the gun owner, we need to find ways to keep connecting. We must be willing to keep the conversation going by sharing facts and experiences—not for mere social acceptance but to maintain our way of life.
At the same time, we must encourage and welcome those who want to learn more. Unlike gun control groups, the NRA is more than just a Second Amendment activist or lobbying group. Real resources, training programs, support for the shooting sports community and media outreach efforts such as NRATV prove how dedicated we are to safety and personal freedom.
In the end, it’s not at all “baffling” to see how true gun safety programs and initiatives—combined with our thriving, connected firearm community—are to be credited with the decline in accidental gun deaths. It is not “our” truth, but the truth. Please share it.
Julie Golob is one of the most accomplished professional shooters in the world with more than 130 championship titles in international, national and regional marksmanship competitions in seven different shooting disciplines. A veteran of the elite U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit, she is regularly featured on outdoor television programming offering introduction and insight into the shooting sports and actively shares the importance of safety and training as lead instructor of NRA Women’s “Love at First Shot” and content contributor for NRA media outlets.