13 Common Misconceptions About Guns and Gun Owners
This entry was posted on October 29, 2018.
In any discussion regarding guns and gun owners, it is not only possible, but likely, you will hear information that is either partially or entirely incorrect. While you might think the advancement of the Internet and other media forms would have decreased the prevalence of misinformation regarding guns and gun owners, this has not been the case.
While some of the false conceptions people have surrounding guns and gun owners are relatively harmless, many of them are hurtful and damaging to the public perception of the many U.S. citizens who wish to exercise their Constitutional right outlined in the Second Amendment. To help clarify these issues, let's look at 13 common misconceptions — eight about guns and five about gun owners — that many people operate under. For each one, we'll focus on debunking the myth to move forward with a more accurate and positive understanding of guns and gun owners.
Gun Myths Debunked
For many enthusiasts, part of the attraction to firearms — beyond self-defense and the exercise of a constitutional right — is the tremendous history and variety of guns. There is a rich body of knowledge to learn about and contribute to. Issues arise, though, when this knowledge is not widely available to those outside the gun-owning community. The following are some facts that will hopefully explain some of the ongoing and often misleading conversations about guns in America.
1. An AR-15 Is Not an Assault Rifle
Although this rifle often comes up in the discussion surrounding “assault rifles,” that really shouldn’t be the case. A company called Armalite developed the AR-15 and designated it as the “Armalite Rifle,” or AR. They intended the design for civilian use, which remained the case when Colt purchased the design and began releasing their semi-automatic version in 1964.
Contrary to popular belief, the AR-15 is not a machine gun. Rather, the National Shooting Sports Foundation has designated it as a “modern sporting rifle.” While there are some variations of the rifle for military applications, the primary use of the AR-15 has always been in a non-military context. Many gun owners prefer the AR-15 to a more traditional shotgun for home defense or varmint control for its precision and the wide variety of calibers available.
2. Silencers Do Not Make Guns Totally Silent
While Hollywood has worked hard to emblazon in our minds the image of the spy with the silenced pistol taking out guards in an undetectable fashion, the reality of a silencer is far less impressive. Far from making a gunshot inaudible, the modern silencer reduces the decibels by anywhere from 14 to 43dB. While the shot will be noticeably quieter, any gun with a silencer will still be very audible.
In a far cry from covert spy missions, most people use silencers for hearing protection. They are also common courtesy for someone who may be shooting at a range in or near a population center and does not want to disturb the neighbors too much. Silencers help decrease recoil as well as noise, which makes shooting a more comfortable and enjoyable experience.
3. Fully and Semi-Automatic Guns Are Different
Many people who are not gun owners or are uneducated regarding types or styles of firearms get confused over the terms fully automatic and semi-automatic. They may mistake a semi-automatic weapon for a fully automatic, or may use hybrid phrases like “fully semi-automatic.” The distinction between these two terms is essential to understand because so much proposed gun legislation revolves around the issue of fully automatic weapons.
Here's the difference: With a fully automatic gun, a single, maintained trigger pull releases bullets continuously until the magazine is empty. The machine guns you see in films or in use by military personnel, as well as some pistols, are fully automatic. A semi-automatic gun, on the other hand, requires multiple trigger pulls to empty the weapon, which fires one bullet per individual trigger pull. Semi-automatic guns include nearly every modern pistol, some shotguns and many rifles, including the AR-15.
Most gun owners have semi-automatic weapons, while fully automatic weapons are rarely in civilian possession due to the extensive and expensive licensing process required to obtain them legally. The guns themselves are also extremely costly.
4. There Is No Gun Show Loophole
When it comes to buying any gun legally, there is a lot of misinformation and confusion surrounding the infamous “gun show loophole," a myth that assumes people who want to obtain a gun without undergoing a background check can make their purchase anonymously at a gun show. In actuality, to buy any gun from a licensed dealer — even at a gun show — one must undergo a criminal background check.
To buy a gun from a dealer at a gun show, the buyer must fill out forms and wait for the results of a background check in the same way they would at a brick-and-mortar location. This process is fairly straightforward. Many people, though, mistake buying a gun from a private citizen as being the same as buying from a dealer. Private transactions between citizens do not require a background check.
While this may seem like a loophole, if the gun buyer goes on to commit a crime with their new weapon, the seller will also be criminally liable. Due to this, there is adequate incentive for private sellers to either request background checks or decline offers from individuals they deem untrustworthy.
5. There Is No Online Loophole, Either
In addition to the gun show loophole, many people also consider online sales of guns another loophole that allows buyers to purchase guns without undergoing a background check. They have the mistaken impression that it works the same way as ordering anything else online: The buyer makes a selection, submits payment information and shipping address, then receives their package a few days later. However, this is not the case with guns.
To buy a gun online, the buyer must make a selection, input payment information, then select the address of a licensed Federal Firearms License dealer who will receive the firearm. The buyer will receive a notification when the FFL dealer has received the weapon, and may then go to the location — typically a gun or sporting goods store — to undergo a background check before taking home their weapon. Online gun buyers can no more avoid a background check than any other buyers.
6. An Assault Weapon Is Not a Particular Type of Gun
"Assault weapon" is a popular term that comes up in the discussion of firearm restrictions. Most people would reasonably agree private citizens should not have access to assault weapons, and there has even been a national assault weapons ban in place since the 1990s. However, few people are aware of the fact that “assault weapon” is a general term that can apply to any object someone can use to harm another person — including a knife, a car, a bat or any other item.
When it comes to guns, there is such a thing as an “assault rifle.” However, these rifles are primarily only available to military personnel and are difficult for private citizens to obtain, due to their fully automatic capabilities. The term “assault rifle” naturally leads people to believe, again, that an AR-15 is an assault rifle, which is why so much confusion arises — all because people don't properly understand the terminology.
7. Hollow-Point Bullets Are Not Deadlier Than Full-Metal-Jacket Bullets
Another of the gun misconceptions propagated in the media and film is that hollow-point bullets pose a more significant threat than solid, full-metal-jacket bullets. However, that is completely untrue. Full-metal-jacket bullets pose a much higher risk to bystanders and property because of the penetration they offer, as well as their tendency to begin tumbling upon contact with a target, which has the effect of tearing a more ragged and deeper hole.
The copper jacket on these bullets prevents the soft lead of the bullet from shattering when it impacts a target. It retains its point, thus allowing it to penetrate and continue through the target easily, often going through completely and striking whatever is behind it. That posed an obvious danger for police officers who might need to fire at a suspect in a public environment. Even if officers managed to hit their targets, the danger of also hitting something or someone on the other side meant they could not safely use their weapons in a public setting.
To solve this problem, Lee Juarez, a former police officer, invented the hollow-point bullet. His purpose was not to cause more damage to a target. Instead, it was to create ammunition police could safely fire without fear of overpenetration endangering civilian lives. Additionally, hollow-point bullets are less dangerous to police officers wearing bulletproof vests because they shatter, which prevents them from penetrating in the same way a full-metal-jacket bullet would.
8. Security Scans Can Detect Handguns With Polymer Frames
A common concern at airports is that firearms — handguns, in particular — that feature polymer construction will be undetectable by scanners. However, this is totally untrue, because no gun is entirely plastic. The barrel, receiver, firing mechanism, clip or any number of other components will be steel, which is necessary for the weapon to be able to withstand the stress of firing. A plastic firing pin would not be able to strike the primer and create the spark necessary to fire a bullet, for example. Further, bullets — even uncased hollow points — still require brass cartridges and primers, all of which a metal detector will find.
So, if metal detectors can still identify polymer-frame firearms, why not make the guns entirely from steel, so there’s no concern at all? One reason is that polymer-frame weapons are cheaper to produce because plastic is less expensive than steel, thus allowing more people to purchase a reliable and sturdy handgun for self-defense at a reasonable price. Polymer-frame pistols are also much lighter than traditional sidearms, and gun manufacturers can mold them into more ergonomically friendly shapes, which has made them extremely popular for people who wish to carry them concealed.
Gun Owner Myths Debunked
As much misinformation and confusion as there are about guns, there may be even more about the Americans who own them. Misconceptions about gun owners, often stemming from stereotypes perpetuated in film and television, are typically negative and often are hurtful, both to the public perception of gun owners and to the national conversation surrounding guns. The following are some explanations of the truth regarding common stereotypes attributed to gun owners.
9. Gun Owners Do Not Love Violence
This point may be one of the more damaging stereotypes to arise from Hollywood’s portrayal of gun ownership. Movies that feature guns nearly always show them in use, and the characters who use them rarely regret using their weapon, or may even enjoy the violence of a gunfight. While this may make for an exciting film or television show, the reality of the vast majority of gun owners is far less intense.
Most people who live or grew up in a household with guns, or who carry a firearm themselves, would emphasize that safety is the No. 1 priority for responsible gun owners. Many applications of firearm ownership require safety classes, such as hunter safety and concealed carry courses, before gun owners can participate in them. Additionally, concealed carry courses, which focus on self-defense, always emphasize deescalating a situation whenever possible and look at using a firearm as the absolute last resort.
10. Gun Owners Are Not Paranoid Preppers
The misunderstanding that gun owners are paranoid is likely attributable to the image of the doomsday prepper that media portrayals have perpetuated. The rugged individualist with a bunker full of MREs and an arsenal of weapons obviously looks crazy and paranoid to most people, and gun owners in general often get unfairly painted with the same brush.
As with almost any stereotype, there is a small amount of validity to it. After all, gun owners are often responsible citizens who work to prepare for the worst, be it a mugging, a break-in or some other crime that would require them to defend themselves, their families and their belongings. Many gun owners, particularly in rural areas, understand the response time of police may not be fast enough to prevent a tragedy from happening, so they have a gun to ensure their safety and the safety of those they love.
However, the image of the gun owner with the stocked arsenal is not the norm, or even a common enough occurrence to be worth considering. According to one survey, American gun owners own just three firearms, on average. Those who own significantly more guns are typically avid hunters or collectors, not paranoid preppers.
11. Gun Owners Are Not Planning to Overthrow the Government
A similar misconception of gun-owner paranoia is that gun owners feel they will need their guns for a government overthrow. This misconception arises from the fact that many gun owners correctly point out that the authors of the Second Amendment historically intended it to serve as a protective measure against a potentially tyrannical government. Using this argument opens up gun owners to accusations of paranoia and conspiracy by others who may not feel the government could ever pose a threat.
The truth is that only a tiny fraction of gun owners believe this will ever be necessary. However, the evidence throughout history — including Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union and Communist China — all speaks to the benefit of having an armed populace who could resist oppression if the need arose.
The vast majority of American gun owners love their country, and this love does not change with the political party in power. While the intention behind the Second Amendment motivates some gun owners, patriotism is an equally vital factor for them. Many gun owners would feel as just much — or, perhaps, even more — obligation to use their weapons in defense of their country as they would to resist a tyrannical government.
12. Gun Owners Are Not Uneducated
Once again, Hollywood is likely to blame for this harmful gun owner stereotype. Any movie that prominently features a lower-class, uneducated, often Southern, "redneck" or "hillbilly" character will almost always include a gun on or around that character. This archetype might stem from the cultural memory of the Hatfields and McCoys, or maybe the Civil War. Regardless, the stereotype of gun owners being uneducated is false, as are many other hurtful stereotypes surrounding blue-collar and Southern Americans.
The truth is that rates of gun ownership are not appreciably different across educational demographics. According to a 2017 survey, 31 percent of Americans with a high school education or less own a gun. For people who attended college, this number is 34 percent. Additionally, 25 percent of people with a bachelor's degree or more own a gun. It is clear from these statistics that the stereotype that says all gun owners are uneducated is far from reality.
13. Gun Owners Are Not Unconcerned With Gun Violence
Easily the most damaging and offensive myth about gun owners is that they are cold-hearted, selfish people who are willing to allow any amount of violence to happen, including school shootings, as long as they still get to keep their precious guns. However, this could not be further from the truth. The reality is that gun owners are incredibly concerned about gun violence, and especially about mass shootings in particular. This concern does not stem from a selfish desire to hold onto their guns no matter the cost, but first from a place of empathy for the victims and their families.
After the initial trauma, though, the questions inevitably turn to how to prevent gun violence — which is where the national conversation often makes gun owners the target of critical and disparaging remarks. That criticism is unjustified, though, because gun owners have a different view of how to best address the issue of gun violence. Gun owners, by and large, would prefer someone else with a gun to stop an active shooter — whether that person is an armed security guard, police offer or a licensed concealed carrier.
The many cases in which armed citizens prevent disasters, such as at Isaac Campbell Park in Florida, provide a strong case for this position. The idea that gun owners don’t care about preventing senseless violence is antithetical to the reasons that motivated the vast majority of them to purchase guns in the first place.
Every Gun Owner Who Carries Needs a Quality Holster
Here at High Noon Holsters, we know guns and gun owners, and we know that whether you open or conceal carry, a quality, comfortable holster is a must. For over 20 years, High Noon Holsters has demonstrated a commitment to excellent craftsmanship as we create the highest-quality leather, Klydex and hybrid holsters, which we make to last. Our designs are unique, innovative and customizable, so you can have the exact holster you want within a short amount of time.
Our superior products and our excellent customer service lead to satisfied and loyal customers. Browse through our product offerings, and contact us today with any questions. We would love to do business with you!