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Sun Dec 20, 2015, 08:37 AM


7 demented ways America thinks about guns [View all]

On the third anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre that left 20 children dead, Gabby Giffords lashed out at Congress for not adopting new gun controls and singled out a key factor in their cowardice.

“Congress will do exactly what its members have done every week since those 20 kindergartners and first-graders were murdered in their classrooms: nothing at all,” the ex-congresswoman, who was nearly assassinated, wrote in USA Today. “That’s cowardice, an embrace of the shameful status quo we’ve grown to expect from a Congress in the gun lobby’s grip. Many of my former colleagues are in the cold clutches of pessimism and its key ingredient: fear.”

Electoral retribution from the National Rifle Association’s political hit men is not the only place where fear contorts the realities and responses to gun violence in America. Fear drives much of the obsession with guns. It’s seen in the mistaken belief that having a gun makes one safer, and in gun industry-inspired fantasies that armed Americans are heroes waiting to vanquish evildoers. Studies by scholars and others have repeatedly disproven and debunked these myths.

If you think this is hyperbole, look at the following data points, poll results and excerpts from recent studies by top criminal justice researchers and experts. What most Americans believe about gun ownership is driven by fears that distort the reality of gun violence and how to lessen it.


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