The NRA operates much like climate science and evolution denialists: their job is to throw so much almost plausible but really false chaff into the wind that nobody can see the truth without extraordinary efforts.
Ever since the massacres in Aurora, Colorado, and Newtown, Connecticut, it’s been repeated like some surreal requiem: The reason mass gun violence keeps happening is because the United States is full of places that ban guns.
Second Amendment activists have long floated this theme, and now lawmakers across the nation are using it too. During a recent floor debate in the Colorado Legislature, Republican state Rep. Carole Murray put it this way: “Most of the mass killings that we talk about have been effected in gun-free zones. So when you have a gun-free zone, it’s like saying, ‘Come and get me.’”
The argument claims to explain both the motive behind mass shootings and how they play out. The killers deliberately choose sites where firearms are forbidden, gun-rights advocates say, and because there are no weapons, no “good guy with a gun” will be on hand to stop the crime.
With its overtones of fear and heroism, the argument makes for slick sound bites. But here’s the problem: Both its underlying assumptions are contradicted by data. Not only is there zero evidence to support them, our in-depth investigation of America’s mass shootings indicates they are just plain wrong.