How the NRA Convention Reduces Gun Injuries (Hint: It’s Now How You Think)

Kansas’ Secretary of State, Kris Kobach, is trying to convince the NRA to hold a future convention in the Wheat State. Kobach is also running for governor, God help us all. Kobach described Kansas as “the most pro-gun state in America” in his call to get the gun manufacturers’ lobby to come.

As much as I think Kobach is a truly vile person and I hate guns, bringing the NRA to Kansas isn’t a terrible idea. It turns out that having a large gathering to celebrate guns decreases accidental shootings for a few days.

That’s the finding of Anupam Jena of Harvard Medical School and Andrew Olenski of Columbia University. Because the gun lobby has made it very difficult to gather information about the risks of gun ownership or the presence of guns, the two researchers got creative in their attempt to investigate whether guns contribute to injuries. So they studied what happens when the NRA is meeting. They hypothesized that the NRA convention removes guns from use since some of the nation’s most avid gun users–80,000 to 100,000 of them–are at the convention. Moreover, their presence might also drive down gun use elsewhere, since gun clubs and hunting groups might not be meeting during that time. At the actual convention, guns often aren’t permitted, so people would otherwise be concealing and carrying or open carrying aren’t.

The findings are telling: gun injuries go down by 20% on convention days.

Above, attendees at the 2015 NRA Convention in Nashville. Overwhelmingly older white men, they stand and clap under a banner that says “If they can ban one, they can ban them all. #nragreentip.” The hashtag references an AFT proposal to regulate the 5.56mm M855 green tip bullet, which has been called by some as “armor-piercing” and by others as simply “tactical.”

Most telling was that crime-related gun injuries and deaths didn’t go down during this time. That is, criminals who weren’t attending the NRA convention were still using their guns and still causing as much mayhem as usual. What changed was that responsible, trained, law-abiding gun owners of the NRA were removed from the gun-using population for a few days.

The authors of the study point out that their work demonstrates correlation, not causation. But the results fit with their hypothesis and with all kinds of other evidence that says that guns are a danger even in the hands of people who have been trained to use them and are confident that they know what they’re doing with them.

So having the NRA meet in Kansas keeps the public safe because it keeps gun fetishists away from their weapons–a different way of saying guns don’t kill and injure people; people who own guns and who lobby for more guns in more public spaces do, and the public is safer when guns are kept out of their hands.





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