Taking another look at what gets coverage, firearms sales and public opinion
It has become almost an article of faith in the firearms industry that even reports from our federal government that show a continuing decline in crime will get little media attention. And so it was again with the release this month of the FBI’s preliminary Uniform Crime Statistics for the first half of 2013 that showed that murders fell by nearly 7 percent compared with the same period in 2012 while violent crime overall fell by 5.4 percent.
As we have pointed out before, the crime reductions correspond with a steady increase in the legal demand for firearms as law-abiding American people have sought to exercise their Second Amendment rights, enjoy recreational shooting and even go afield with a new modern sporting rifle. The latest ATF figures demonstrate how manufacturers responded to this demand. Firearms production in 2012 topped 8.57 million, up 31 percent from 6.54 million in 2011.
Let’s be clear in responding to our critics and opportunistic politicians on this important point: No matter how skilled our industry is in our marketing, there is no way that this demand could be generated through advertising and on-line videos. Americans wanted these firearms. Those that live in the pricey precincts of New York City or San Francisco may not want to face this fact, but it is the truth.
On the other hand, studies that fit the preferred mainstream media narrative do get attention with little questioning of the methodology or definitions. One such study suggested alarming numbers of children accidentally injured by firearms. In actuality, the study mostly tracked violence among young men. The vast majority of the incidents included in the study, 84 percent, involve individuals in the range of 15-19 years old. These are children?
In addition, almost two-thirds of the cases examined were assaults, and, not surprisingly, almost all of the assault victims were between 15-19 years old. And this could well be an undercount, as it seems probable that a teenager may report an injury as unintentional when actually the result of an assault to avoid legal trouble or retribution.
Finally, while public opinion can be swayed by the news of the day, a recent Gallup poll showed that the percentage of Americans favoring stricter gun laws fell 7 points in 2014, from 38 to 31 percent. The country’s overall dissatisfaction with U.S. gun laws and policies has increased to 55 percent this year, up from 51 percent in 2013.
That increase stemmed largely from the 16 percent of Americans who say that gun laws are too strict, more than triple the 5 percent recorded by Gallup last year. “Americans have become more dissatisfied with gun laws over the past year, but this is attributable to a greater percentage who say gun laws are too strict, rather than not being strict enough,” the poll concluded. “Americans’ changing views could set the course for future gun law debates and legislation.”