The election season is just about here, which means you’re going to be hearing all kinds of arguments about why you have too many gun rights. Before your blood pressure spikes drastically at the sheer amount of nonsense you’re likely to hear from friends, co-workers, relatives and television talking heads, we here at the USCCA thought it would be helpful to walk you through why a few of the anti-gun-rights movement’s talking points are so misguided.

Gun Confiscation

“Hell yes, we’re coming for your AR-15!”

If we’re all willing to be brutally honest, this is never going to happen the way anyone’s picturing it. Local, county, state and federal law enforcement already have a hard enough time as it is trying to seize all of the guns that criminals currently possess. For good reason: There isn’t much of an appetite for armored vehicles crashing through the fronts of apartment buildings to root out and apprehend those who illegally possess firearms. You know … to go after criminals who aren’t even supposed to be in possession of firearms in the first place. If law enforcement already has a hard time seizing weapons from the people they’re supposed to be apprehending right now, what do you think would happen were every pre-shift briefing in every police station across this country to include “seize all AR-15s”?

Gun Buybacks

“It’s a common-sense response to a national problem.”

Well, for something to be a buyback, the person doing the buying has to be the one who sold the object in question in the first place. But we all know what this means. The government at whatever level would declare that your AR (or Glock or whatever) is worth “X” number of dollars and would either ask or demand that you bring your firearm down to the police station and exchange it for a check.

This is similar to the problem the government would face with confiscation. This is only going to have a prayer of working if you’re willing to enter every enclosure in this nation and search it for contraband. Though plenty of anti-gun folks would like to do just that, we fortunately live in a country in which that is entirely, spectacularly illegal under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. This is, at best, feel-good pie in the sky and at worst, a totalitarian camel’s nose under the tent.

‘Universal’ Background Checks

“We just want to keep guns out of the wrong people’s hands.”

This is the trojan horse with which the anti-gunners feel they can get the most traction because it’s the easiest to sell to someone who hasn’t put much thought into it. Why wouldn’t you want to make sure that people buying guns go through the Federal Background Check just like in a gun store?

Well, the problem here is the same problem with buybacks and outright confiscation. For the feds to know where every gun is and therefore be able to know which guns are being transferred, they’d have to register every last firearm in the country. Then the government would be constantly checking the registry against what’s in who’s residence on any given day. Not only would this be both illegal and ineffective, with even a little more thought, it becomes clear that “universal background checks” is a lot more about harassing friends who want to sell guns to each other than it is about preventing crime. “Straw purchases” (getting an eligible buyer to consciously and intentionally buy a gun at a gun shop for someone who is otherwise ineligible to purchase one) is barely prosecuted right now. Maybe that should be step one in making sure we “keep guns out of the wrong people’s hands.”

Mass Shootings Are Killing Thousands of Americans Every Year

“These weapons of war are killing innocent children!”

Fortunately, “mass shootings” as the anti-gun folks like to talk about them are extremely rare and account for a tiny minority of gun deaths in this country. Most gun deaths in this country are suicides. Almost all of the rest of them are gang- and drug-related and confined to 5 percent of American counties. You read that right: 5 percent of the counties accounted for nearly 70 percent of the murders in the U.S.

Most of the people pushing for more gun control don’t even recognize mass shootings that occur on a regular basis in these areas as mass shootings because they’re simply crimes in which four or more people are shot in one incident. That incident is almost always drug-related or otherwise uninteresting to the anti-gunners, and handguns are almost always the weapons used. Such incidents are boring to anti-gunners because they want to concentrate on “stranger murder” as a tool to further the agenda of removing modern sporting rifles from your possession. They know that the concept of a stranger walking into an area and murdering people they’ve never met is a lot more bizarre and frightening to most people that the thought of drug deals gone sideways. So they just kind of act like the other murders being committed with handguns aren’t happening and concentrate on your AR.

For now, at least. If they ever get even an inch of your rifles, be prepared for them to come after your handguns, too. (They’re none too fond of those, either.)

Gun-Free Zones

“Guns have no place here!”

So-called “gun-free” zones have proven to be some of the most dangerous places in the western hemisphere. In his book Countering the Mass Shooter Threat, Michael Martin points out that,

Since Columbine, and up to and including the terrorist attacks in San Bernardino and Orlando, 48 mass shootings have occurred with 74 percent of them falling in gun-free zones, where civilians were either disarmed by state law, school policy, federal law or policy, or by private policy. It’s worth noting nearly 48 percent of the locations where mass shootings occurred were self-declared gun-free zones, where no law barred civilians from protecting themselves with a firearm. In most cases, it’s a university or corporate lawyer who suggests the ban as a way of avoiding liability if a shooting or an accident were to occur. But after looking at this data, those lawyers may want to reevaluate their idea of what “liability” means.

As mentioned, 74 percent of the mass shootings that have occurred since Columbine occurred in gun-free zones, but those shootings were responsible for 85 percent of the deaths, or 379 of 448 murders. That trend in the data clearly indicates that mass shooters actively seek out soft targets while avoiding hardened targets. Signs, school policies, corporate policies, state statutes, glass doors, unlocked doors and unarmed victims do not create hardened targets. Instead, what those things create is the perfect environment for these deranged individuals to successfully carry out their plans. If we change the environment, we stand a chance at changing their plans.

Gun-free zones are killing fields for murderers. By definition, the only people who will be armed within their limits will be lawbreakers. These areas guarantee that if an attack begins, the chances of potential victims to effectively fight back hover right around zero, and the attacker will have about nine uninterrupted minutes to murder.

Limit Magazine Capacity

“Those high-capacity magazines have to be banned!”

In that same book, Michael Martin points out that magazine capacity has virtually no effect on effective rate of fire. In fact, several of the most heinous mass shootings in recent history were carried out with rates of fire similar to archaic weapons of the 18th and 19th centuries.

A chart showing relative rates of fire, comparing recent mass-shooter incidents to historic weapons - showing that magazine capacity has little to no effect on effective rate of fire.

The numbers just aren’t there. It isn’t firearm or magazine. It’s time that murderers are allowed to be in gun-free zones without anyone able to stop them that gets the most people killed in a mass shooting.

Background Checks for Ammunition

“It just makes sense!”

This is another measure that is far more intended to harass and inconvenience political enemies than a measure to prevent violence. Picture all of the problems with background checks for firearms and then multiply them a few hundred million times. You’d get the same thing. A lot of people who follow the law all the time gritting their teeth and complying with an illegal, unconstitutional law. And all of the people you were trying to prevent from accessing firearms and ammunition continuing to not follow the laws.

Because they never follow the law. They’re criminals. As with the straw purchases discussed above, maybe we can start enforcing the laws we already have before we go and pass any more.

“Red Flag” Laws

“Why can’t we stop these people sooner?”

Extreme risk protection orders (ERPOs) are unconstitutional since we live in a country where you can’t arrest or disenfranchise someone who is merely suspected of the intent to commit a crime. But to make matters worse, there’s a more ground-level reason ERPOs are a disaster waiting to happen. Have you heard of “swatting”? It originated in the world of online video games. It’s basically calling in a false report to the police that someone you know is holed up with a gun and hostages and threatening to murder people. This gets the SWAT team en route to your target’s house. That person will then have to deal with a SWAT team smashing through the door and treating him or her like a murderous hostage-taker.

One of the main reasons that we pro-gun folks are so vehemently anti-“red flag” law is because we not only suspect but have been promised that they’ll be used to harass and punish law-abiding gun owners. You make the wrong comment at work, you type the wrong words online, you break up with a girlfriend or boyfriend and they’re ticked about it … boom. All it takes is one phone call and your life is turned upside-down. Think I’m exaggerating? I’m not. In fact, I’ve already seen people admit online that they’ll do just that as often as they can.

If You Want to Talk, We Can Talk

“Why doesn’t someone do something about all these problems?”

If you’re interested in educating a family member on firearm nomenclature, it pays to do so without asking borderline-rhetorical questions. If you demand, “All right, but do you even know what a semi-automatic rifle IS?”, you will likely antagonize rather than inform. If instead, you state that “semi-automatic” only means the arm fires exactly one bullet for every one press of the trigger, you’ll likely get a lot further than with what seems like an attempt to humiliate your collocutor.

Moreover, if you can get them to ask questions and listen to the answers you give, it will be a lot easier to steer them toward the reality that they’re actually experiencing. People in this country get murdered, and they don’t like that. Reassure them that you don’t like that either. However, passing laws that — had they been in place at the time of any major stranger-murder — wouldn’t have prevented any of those attacks isn’t the answer. Such laws are little more than feel-good pablum for anti-gunners and vindictive, punitive punishments for their political opponents.

Finally, remind anyone who will listen that those who demand “gun safety” measures are demanding nothing of the sort. They want anti-gun laws and have never taken a single step toward increasing gun safety in the United States. Organizations like the NRA, USCCA and others have done so much more for gun SAFETY in the U.S. than any politician of any description that it almost defies explanation.

In fact, if your friend is interested in gun safety rather than just anti-gun laws, do your part and help him or her find the way to the USCCA Training & Education page. Remind them that no one is proud of not knowing important information. If someone is interested in participating in informed debate on gun issues, a class might be just the thing he or she needs in order to be as conversant on the topic as possible.