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Columns

January 3, 2013

COMMENTARY: Debunking Nine Myths of the Gun-Control Debate

So many myths and misunderstandings about gun control, from all sides of the debate, and so little time! Here goes:

Myth No. 1: The extremism of the National Rifle Association and its chief executive officer, Wayne LaPierre, is hurting its cause.

LaPierre's seemingly unhinged recent performances, first at his no-questions news conference and then on NBC's "Meet the Press," have convinced gun-control advocates and members of the news media that he is out of his mind. He isn't. His appearances were calibrated to appeal to the Second Amendment absolutists who make up the NRA's base, and to help sell weapons manufactured by companies that rely on the NRA to keep their market as unregulated as possible. The NRA's tactic is to gin up paranoia among gun owners that President Barack Obama is going to confiscate their legally owned weapons.

Myth No. 2: President Barack Obama is going to confiscate your legally owned weapons.

He isn't. He is so far from doing that it's comical to believe otherwise. There's no constitutional mechanism for him to do so. There's no practical way for him to do so. And he has no motivation to do so, because he's on record defending the rights of sportsmen, hunters and — this is crucial — people who believe in armed self-defense to own guns. As Vice President Joe Biden said during the 2008 campaign, "Barack Obama ain't taking my shotguns, so don't buy that malarkey."

Myth No. 3: There is no proposed gun-control measure that would make the United States safer.

True, there are as many as 300 million guns in the country, with more coming into circulation every day. But some new regulations would help. Closing the so-called gun-show loophole — which allows many guns to be sold without benefit of a federal background check — would make it at least marginally more difficult for unqualified buyers, such as felons and the mentally ill, to get weapons. Since 1994, about 1.9 million purchases have been stopped because of background checks. A semi-smart criminal, or a high-functioning deranged person, would still most likely find his way to a gun. But it would be beneficial to place more stumbling blocks in his path.

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