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Cole: The truth about guns and crime
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Cole: The truth about guns and crime

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Wyoming Top 100

Nephi Cole explains to the Wyoming’s Top 100 workshop participants April 22, 2017, in Laramie how to score the amateur-level shooting competition.

There’s a party game called “two truths and a lie”. Sounds like a great party game. But we’re all grownups here – we should have more integrity. Politics shouldn’t be played like a teenage party game. Willfully misleading people is wrong. Most of us agree that the commandment “though shalt not lie” remains in effect.

For example, and despite what you might here on television, America does not have a “gun violence epidemic”. Violent gun crime in our country is near all-time lows. However, some groups still knowingly mislead people. They do it to try and increase their power. Anti-gun groups try to lump suicides into the same categories as violent crime — acting like one thing is the same as another to make a lie stick. People who don’t know better are fooled and repeat the lie.

Truth is that guns don’t cause crime, criminals do. There are more guns in America than ever before. Again, crime is near all-time lows. In fact, we (the firearms industry) sold more firearms this year to more law-abiding American citizens than ever before – more than 10 million as of July. They were purchased by Americans of every social class, economic background and race. They were purchased by Republicans and even some Democrats. 40% were purchased by first time gun owners. Who didn’t buy a gun from us? Felons didn’t. Violent domestic abusers didn’t. Illegal aliens didn’t. Criminally insane people didn’t.

How do we know? Because federal law says if you are one of those things, or a traitor, drug abuser, or fugitive from justice, you may not buy or own a gun. You may steal one or buy it on the black market, but you won’t be getting it from us. If you are one of those prohibited people, we will not sell. Our confidence that we can deny evil criminals and the criminally insane relies on integrity – of people and records. We know, because we are required by law to check the National Instant Criminal Background Check system for those evil people. You’ve heard of it—it’s called NICS.

What is NICS? It is a national database of high-level criminals. That’s it. It’s not traffic tickets or dust ups. It’s not arguments or the occasional trip home from the bar. It has absolutely nothing to do with your perceived “wellness”. It is violent criminals and the seriously criminally insane. It’s people who are convicted. It is people who are incarcerated for serious criminality. Last time you bought a gun you saw the classes of people who can’t – it’s on the form. That’s NICS. Anyone who tells you something more or less than that is lying.

Someone is lying if they tell you that being criminally insane is the same thing as seeking treatment for PTSD, or depression, or any of a thousand other mental health maladies. One of the most disgusting lies is to lead veterans with PTSD to believe they can’t ask for help, because they might risk their constitutionally protected right to bear arms. That is a lie.

It is also a lie to tell people that legitimate efforts to fix broken federal and state record keeping (FixNICS) is a “Red Flag” law. It is not. We, the firearms industry, oppose all “Red Flag” laws. Why? Because they are nothing more than workarounds to deprive individuals of constitutional rights without legitimate reason and due process. No Wyoming elected official we are aware of, in either party, has ever proposed that. We would be the first to let you know if they did. We will defeat those efforts. If someone is telling you otherwise, they are willfully misleading you.

Understand the differences. No law-abiding American citizen should ever be deprived of their right to defense of liberty—the right to keep and bear arms “shall not be infringed”. But if you believe that traitors, criminals, and the criminally insane should have those same protections—we will disagree. You are entitled to that opinion. But don’t lie about it.

Nephi Cole is the Director, Government Relations – State Affairs for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearm industry trade association. He lives in Cheyenne and “will live and die” a Wyoming resident.

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