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Gun rights advocates say there are 2.5 million defensive gun uses a year. That’s 6,849 times a day. That’s how they justify ignoring the mass shootings of children.

To give their numbers context, let’s look at crime statistics:

In 2016, the FBI recorded 95,730 rapes. That’s 262 rapes a day.

The bureau recorded 17,250 murders. That’s about 47 murders per day.

There were 332,198 robberies nationwide in 2016. That’s 910 per day.

There were 803,007 aggravated assaults in 2016. That’s 2,200 per day.

If you add all these up, gun owners claimed to have stopped almost twice as many of the biggest crimes the FBI recorded actually happening in 2016. And if you consider that only about a third of American households have guns, you must come to the conclusion that the overwhelming amount of U.S. crime is actually being perpetuated against gun owners–in such vast amounts that if I were them, I would be afraid to leave the house.

There’s an easy way to avoid that paradox: They can admit their numbers are fraudulent. They are, in fact, 20 years old and based on a phone survey of Floridians whose stories were not externally validated by the study’s author. The reason gun owners tout these figures is a miscible concoction of fear, folk wisdom, peer approval and inherent trust in family members. In other words, the same qualities Bernie Madoff preyed upon.

If this were an insurance scam, it would work the same way: The unethical salesperson exaggerates the risk of failure, sells you a product that is actually riskier, then tells you to share that risk with others by telling them to buy it too. The problem with gun rights advocates, even if their hearts are in the right place, is that they have asked non-gun-owning two thirds of Americans to share risk that the unethical salesperson has laden them with (the heightened risk of getting shot), and help them participate in a demonstrable fraud.

Incidentally, there is a real number of defensive gun uses, and there’s little reason to believe it’s much higher than toddlers shooting themselves. It is easily canceled out by murders many times over. There are common sense physics reasons that guns are very limited as defensive weapons, but if you can’t understand that, I doubt you read this far. And if that’s the case, you’ll never know that the monster at the end of this story was you.

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