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Debunking NRA, President Trump Rhetoric on Guns

Since last week’s mass school shooting in Parkland, Florida, the NRA has gone into full-on damage control mode, peddling misinformation and misleading rhetoric to avoid defending their real and dangerous policy agenda. While the White House continues to send mixed messages, here are the facts you should know:

  • The NRA and President Donald Trump say arming teachers will make us safer.

In recent years, the gun lobby has pushed legislation across the country that would arm teachers and allow civilians to carry guns into our elementary, middle and high schools. These bills are sold as a way to keep children safe, but in reality, they do just the opposite, putting children at risk of unintentional shootings and escalating conflict without decreasing the risk of an active shooter. Plus, teachers and school safety experts overwhelmingly oppose allowing guns in schools. The American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association, the nation’s two largest teachers’ organizations, oppose allowing guns in schools, and the federal government’s chief legal, law enforcement, public health, education, and emergency management agencies all agree it would create more safety concerns.

  • The NRA and President Trump have suggested that they support stronger background checks.

Since last week, the NRA has repeatedly claimed to be supportive of stronger background checks. Let’s be clear: 97 percent of American voters support requiring background checks for every gun sale, but the NRA explicitly opposes expanding criminal background checks to all gun sales, and is misleading Americans about its own agenda.

The Fix NICS Act does not expand the background check requirement to cover unlicensed sales. It simply incentivizes states and federal agencies to put prohibiting records into the system. In other words, it compels federal agencies to follow existing law and continues the work of pressing states to improve.

Comprehensive background check legislation, by contrast, would expand the criminal background check requirement to cover unlicensed sellers, including those who operate at gun shows or online. Even if the Fix NICS Act passed, felons and other prohibited people would still be able to buy guns from unlicensed sellers, at gun shows or online, without a background check, in more than 30 states.

The White House has said that President Trump is open to supporting the modest Fix NICS Act, and referred to unspecified “edits” to the bill to follow. The president has not expressed support for requiring criminal background checks on every gun sale, a stance that the White House reiterated during yesterday’s press briefing.

The gun lobby uses fear of “active shooter” situations to justify allowing guns in schools, but arming civilians is not an effective way to stop an active shooter. In fact, armed civilians make active shooter situations more difficult and dangerous for police.

An FBI review of active shooter incidents from 2000-2013 found that only 1 of 160 incidents ended when a civilian shot at the shooter—and that one “civilian” was a former marine. By contrast, 21 incidents ended when unarmed civilians stopped or restrained the shooter. While law enforcement officers are extensively trained to handle the chaos and fluctuating dynamics of active shooter situations, civilians are not. Research casts significant doubt on the idea that civilians can shoot as well as trained police officers in active shooter situations.

What’s more, President Trump’s comments are in complete conflict with the NRA’s number one priority legislation to undermine gun laws, “concealed carry reciprocity.” Concealed carry reciprocity forces states to accept the concealed carry standards of the states with the weakest standards, including a dozen states that don’t even require a permit in order to carry a concealed handgun in public, and 19 states that don’t require any gun safety training. To summarize: the NRA’s top priority legislation would undermine state gun laws across the country, and make it easy for people with dangerous histories and no training to carry hidden, loaded guns in public.

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