I want to have a discussion about guns.
I will be honest and upfront about this. I own guns. I suppose I am a bit of an anomaly because most people connected to the media don’t like guns.
Given my somewhat unique perspective with regard to firearms and the media, I want to point out what I believe is a pretty significant unintended consequence of media coverage of gun violence.
The media in the U.S., along with plenty of politicians in Washington, have set up this certain narrative with regard to gun violence.
It goes something like this: Guns are bad. There are way too many guns in America. Gun violence in America is awful and something needs to be done about it.
This is a narrative that has become more prevalent and prominent over the years. Each year, it seems, the coverage of gun violence gets ratcheted up a notch or two.
These days we get the non-stop, two-day barrage of news stories about shootings. We get every conceivable angle. We get every conceivable detail – and lots of times, at the outset, we get details that may or may not even be true.
The intent is to push the narrative that gun violence is out of control in America and that something must be done about it. The media believe that if they push this narrative hard enough, it may create a climate conducive to the passage of stronger gun-control legislation.
And by creating a conducive climate, I mean getting more anti-gun politicians elected to office.
I suppose some people find this strategy laudable. But on the face of it I find the whole scenario troubling. Seems to me the media shouldn’t be pushing any narratives. They should just give us facts and let us sort them out for ourselves.
If you just paid attention to the way the media cover gun violence, you would think things in today’s America are worse than ever. You would think that we’re regressing to the Wild West. And you would be dead wrong.
In 1993, for example, according to FBI crime statistics,  there were 24,526 murders and nonnegligent manslaughters in the U.S. At that time, there were 258 million U.S. residents so the murder rate was 9.3 per 100,000.
By 2011 (the most recent FBI stats I  could find) – with year-to-year fluctuations along the way – there were 14,612 murders and nonnegligent manslaughters. By then the population had grown to 311 million so the murder rate dropped to 4.7 per 100,000.
(The other thing to consider is that these are crime rates, not gun crime rates. Roughly 65 percent of murders are committed with guns each year.)
Is that too many? Of course. The goal should be no murders, but at the same time, media shouldn’t be bending over backwards to make things seem worse than they are.
The truth is, even as the U.S. population has grown, all violent crime rates are down – significantly.
In the 10 years from 2002 through 2011, the violent crime rate was down 21.9 percent: murder, down 16.8 percent; rape, down 19 percent; robbery, down 22.2 percent; aggravated assault, down 22.1 percent.
(One must also consider that, during the last four years of that time period the country was mired in a recession when crime rates historically and traditionally rise.)
But when news of falling crime rates is reported, it’s matter of fact and buried deep in the newscast. Nobody trumpets good news about crime rates.
The people making decisions about what national media outlets are covering and how they cover it are smart people.
This is why I often wonder how they can miss the glaring unintended consequence of their relentless demonization of guns.
It’s pretty simple. The harder they try to make guns look bad, the more guns Americans buy.
These days – amid a tepid economy and high unemployment – people are spending like crazy on guns and ammo. Gun and ammo manufacturers simply can’t keep up with demand.
The FBI reported it ran 21,093,273 people through the National Instant Background Check System in 2013, obliterating all previous records.
Since President Barack Obama took office in 2009, background checks are up an incredible 66 percent.
Smith & Wessons had net sales of $625 million though Oct. 31, 2013. That’s a 25 percent increase over 2012.
Sturm, Ruger & Company had net sales of $506 million during the same time period, up 45 percent over 2012.
Freedom Group (Remington, Bushmaster, DPMS) had net sales of $1 billion, up 47 percent from a year before.
(Those who know about guns probably know Bushmaster and DPMS make those evil black “assault” rifles liberals like to hate. There are more of those in circulation now than ever before.)
There are approximately 320 million guns in America today.
If you back out all the background checks made for permit requests, you can ascertain that approximately 15 million guns were sold in the U.S. during 2013. That means 4.5 percent of all the guns in America – since the inception of the republic – were sold last year.
Ammo?
Wow.
A good way to track ammo sales is by looking at excise taxes reported on ammo sales and then projecting the amount of ammo sold. American Rifleman magazine did just that in its January edition.
Ammunition sales in 2007 in the U.S. stood at $988 million. By 2012, the total had nearly doubled to $1.8 billion. In the first quarter of 2013, the total already was $619 million.
The AR article also debunks the  myth that the U.S. government is hoarding ammo. The number of rounds purchased by Uncle Sam has actually declined year over year since 2010.
Mainly, it’s just average Americans out there buying up all the guns and ammo they can afford.
Has anybody tried to buy a box of .22 long rifle lately? It’s insane.
So here’s a tip for the largely anti-gun national media:
Stop demonizing guns. Stop trying to make it seem like gun owners are either crazy or criminals. Stop trying to convince the masses that government needs to somehow crack down law-abiding citizens.
Because if the goal is to reduce the number of guns in America, the current strategy is a miserable failure.