In the wake of the horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas, liberals predictably and opportunistically started calling for more gun control laws without even waiting to learn whether they would have made any difference (indeed, without even waiting until the gun smoke had cleared away.) They label these proposals “common sense gun laws,” which is part of the common leftwing tactic of winning debates by rewriting the terms, like renaming illegal aliens “immigrants,” confusing “health coverage” with “health care,” or insisting that a man in a dress is a woman. I have tried over the years in various media outlets to explain, calmly and rationally, what the boosters of these gun laws get wrong and why the laws might even make gun violence worse by taking away self-defense from the law-abiding.
Well, I get that people who are outraged, sad, scared and operating largely on emotions don’t want to hear cold facts from a conservative. So maybe they’ll listen to this. At the link (surprisingly, from the Washington Post) is an article by professional statistician Leah Libresco. She was not only a gun control advocate herself, she also used to work for Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight.com, a revered oracle among the liberal, New York Times-subscribing set.
She explains that she had all the usual liberal beliefs about guns (that the NRA was blocking “common sense” laws that could prevent violence, such as banning “assault weapons,” restricting silencers, etc.) So she and her colleagues set out on a three-month analysis of all 33,000 annual cases of gun deaths in the US, as well as the results of strict gun laws in Britain and Australia. She was stunned to learn that the more they examined the evidence, the more the case for gun control laws crumbled (again, these were not conservative gun owners; they were pro-gun control, liberal number crunchers.)
Among the things she discovered were facts I have long discussed on TV, radio, books and the web: that the term “assault weapon” was invented for something that doesn’t really exist (think about it: you can assault someone with any weapon; that’s what makes it a weapon. “Assault weapon” is like “baseball ball.”) “Silencers” do not silence guns. Gun buyback programs and gun bans have virtually no effect on mass shootings or other gun crimes. Two-thirds of all gun deaths in the US are suicides which gun control laws would not prevent. There’s much more (I urge you to read the entire article, whether you oppose or support gun control.)
After analyzing all the facts, Ms. Libresco still opposes guns personally, but she reluctantly concedes that most policies being promoted by gun control advocates are at best useless, that they are written by people who’ve never even seen a gun outside of the news or in briefing books, and that the only selling point of such laws is that gun owners hate them. She does offer some suggestions that might actually help reduce gun deaths, but they’re very narrowly targeted, which is what would make them effective. They aren’t just sweeping gun bans that would vastly expand the power of government and only target people who aren’t killers.
If we really wanted to get serious about preventing gun deaths, we would be talking about things that might actually accomplish that. Unfortunately, the current mantra on the left and in the media is “Do something even if it’s wrong.” Or maybe I should rewrite that for them: "Do something, especially if it’s wrong.”
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