A new commentary video from the National Rifle Association admitted that the odds of needing to use a gun for self-defense are exceedingly small while still promoting the ownership of firearms for self-defense.
The admission was made on the NRA's Noir web series, a show hosted by gun blogger turned NRA News commentator Colion Noir. The series is part of the NRA's increasing efforts to appeal to a younger demographic.
The October 20 edition of Noir opened with Noir playing the role of a magician as he laid out a deck of 52 cards in random order. After the skit ended, Noir said, “There are 318.9 million American citizens. The odds of you and me needing a gun to protect our lives is not that much better than Colion the Incredible putting these cards back in the exact order.”
This admission from an NRA media product is surprising, but also accurate. The odds of randomly laying out two decks of cards in the same order are infinitesimal.
The odds of using a gun defensively are actually so low that it is difficult to accurately measure the number of defensive gun uses that occur each year. Meanwhile, gun violence is so frequent in the United States that more than 100,000 gunshot injuries are recorded every year (a figure that does not include crimes committed with guns where no one is shot).
Despite admitting the rarity of defensive gun uses, the NRA commentary video did not admit the logical conclusion of that fact, which is that guns do not typically make people safer.
In the commentary video, Noir still promoted guns as a life-saving tool. While acknowledging the long odds of actually needing a gun for self-defense, Noir stated, “Some people like to be prepared for the unlikely but possible. Other people like to cross their fingers and play the statistics. As American citizens we have the right to do both. But we don't have the right to do is limit someone's ability to be prepared for something we don't believe will happen until it does.”
And Noir giving equal weight to owning a gun and being “prepared for the unlikely but possible” as opposed to not owning a gun and “play[ing] the statistics” does not make much sense if the ultimate goal is to improve personal safety.
This is because the evidence clearly indicates that gun ownership increases the risk of injury and death. While Noir frequently challenges those skeptical of gun ownership with a hypothetical scenario where it is obvious that having a gun would be better than not having one, firearm ownership on balance makes the average gun owner and his or her family less rather than more safe throughout that person's life. Peer-reviewed research has repeatedly established that gun ownership raises the likelihood of death by suicide, homicide, and through unintentional shooting.
Emerging research has also challenged the notion that guns are the best tools during a self-defense situation.
According to an analysis of federal government data from the National Crime Victimization Survey, “having a gun provides no statistically significant benefit to a would-be victim during a criminal confrontation” because victims who used a firearm to defend themselves were injured 10.9 percent of the time during a “criminal confrontation” compared to 11 percent of unarmed victims who were injured. Furthermore, the research indicated that 4.1 percent of victims were injured “after brandishing a firearm,” compared to just 2.4 percent of victims who were injured after running or hiding.
Noir's admission that people are unlikely to actually use a gun in self-defense is also counter to the NRA's typical paranoid message, which posits that guns should be permissively purchased and carried so that gun owners can confront constant threats to their lives.
For example, in a February 2013 op-ed that was widely ridiculed for its outlandish claims and racially charged overtones, NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre suggested that gun ownership was necessary to ensure “survival.” LaPierre argued that Americans who don't buy firearms risk death from a number of sources:
Hurricanes. Tornadoes. Riots. Terrorists. Gangs. Lone criminals. These are perils we are sure to face--not just maybe. It's not paranoia to buy a gun. It's survival. It's responsible behavior, and it's time we encourage law-abiding Americans to do just that.
LaPierre used similar language in a 2014 speech at CPAC, raising a number of frightful scenarios including “knockout gamers,” “haters,” “vicious waves of chemicals or disease” to support his claim that “there is no greater freedom than the right to survive and protect our families with all the rifles, shotguns, and handguns we want”:
We don't trust government, because government itself has proven unworthy of our trust. We trust ourselves and we trust what we know in our hearts to be right. We trust our freedom. In this uncertain world, surrounded by lies and corruption everywhere you look, there is no greater freedom than the right to survive and protect our families with all the rifles, shotguns, and handguns we want. We know in the world that surrounds us there are terrorists and there are home invaders, drug cartels, carjackers, knockout gamers, and rapers, and haters, and campus killers, airport killers, shopping mall killers and killers who scheme to destroy our country with massive storms of violence against our power grids or vicious waves of chemicals or disease that could collapse our society that sustains us all.