RELEASE: The Gun Industry Falsely Leverages Human Rights To Sell Firearms

Washington, D.C. — Shortly after the formation of the United Nations, the United States and 47 other countries ratified the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a broad set of international principles to codify and protect the fundamental rights of all people, including rights to life, freedom, and security.

Now, that rights-based narrative is being leveraged for an altogether different and dangerous purpose: as justification for the proliferation of firearms.

The gun lobby has produced a warped framework for so-called gun rights, focused on protecting the alleged rights of civilians to bear, carry, and use firearms without limitation. Complementing the gun rights framework is the gun lobby’s efforts to condition people into believing that a firearm is the sole way to ensure their own safety and that of their loved ones.

This dangerous narrative has had a dire effect on public safety in the United States, particularly with the proliferation of “stand your ground” laws across the nation. These “stand your ground” policies focus on allowing people to use deadly force in situations they deem threatening, without any effort to deescalate or retreat. “Stand your ground” laws manipulate the idea of self-defense and undermine fundamental human rights.

“The gun industry is not focused on protecting human rights; it is focused on selling guns,” said Rukmani Bhatia, senior policy analyst for Gun Violence Prevention at the Center for American Progress and author of the issue brief. “For decades, the gun industry and its lobbyists have pushed a fear-based narrative designed to scare people into buying firearms. They used that same narrative to push ‘stand your ground’ laws in numerous states—and continue to do so today. We have seen repeatedly the devastating toll this policy takes on communities, particularly communities of color. We need policies that protect the rights of people, not the profit margins for the gun industry.”

Read the issue brief here: “Untangling the Gun Lobby’s Web of Self-Defense and Human Rights: Peddling False Rights, Profiting Off Fear” by Rukmani Bhatia

For more information or to speak with an expert, please contact Adam Peck at apeck@americanprogress.org or 914-874-7887.