More wasted words on guns

My news feed is filled with a statistics and run-downs concerning gun violence in America. I find the evidence compelling. Guns are correlated with gun deaths. Lax gun laws are correlated with gun deaths, and living in the US seems correlated with being killed by gun.

The evidence is strong, like this or this or this, but it’s also the same evidence we all read the last time one of these tragedies happened, and, as we’ve all noticed, the evidence moved the needle on gun policy. Nobody should be surprised. The gun rights crowd aren’t interested in this kind of evidence. Jeb Bush’s Kinsleyan “stuff happens” gaffe the other day should give us insight. Perhaps the gun rights people seem see all this carnage as a necessary cost of a tangible freedom they hold more dearly than life — at least, life in the abstract.

Now, you might think that’s crazy, but crazy or not, if that’s how the people you are trying to persuade see things, then trotting out the same old statistics after every shooting incident should have little or no effect. And, in fact, that seems to be exactly the case.

So, notwithstanding certain cliched definitions of insanity, I suggest a new strategy is in order. I do not have a brilliant suggestion, but I think at the core, we need to figure out how to separate moderate gun owners from more extreme pro-rights organizations, like the NRA. One idea is to create a new gun enthusiasts organization that’s better than the NRA. Better insurance. Better youth programs. Cooler vests and hats. A glossier glossy magazine. And a reasonable interpretation of the 2<sup>nd</sup> amendment. What else can be done?

I dunno, but a political strategy is in order. The goal should be to weaken the constituency in favor of extreme gun rights and create a constituency in favor of controls. It’s a long-term project. Stats on FB will not get us there.


3 thoughts on “More wasted words on guns”

  1. The three examples of evidence that you site are all simple propaganda. Focusing exclusively on gun deaths, to the exclusion of all other violent crime, is an improper methodology, because gun ownership can conceivably result in lower rates of other forms of violent crime. Rapes are reduced when women carry pistols. Home invasions are reduced when homeowners have shotguns. A knife-wielding attacker shot by his would-be victim becomes a “gun death” vs a knife death not counted. Any “study” that ignores these potential positives (or worse, considers them as negatives, as in the knife-wielding attacker) is invalid on its face. And some of these studies take the propaganda even further:

    Proper criminological research, such as that by Gary Kleck and John Lott, reach mildly pro-gun conclusions. Even the best criticisms of Lott’s work reach a conclusion of “meh, maybe guns aren’t so great” vs the conclusions of “OMG, guns are so bad!” that the propaganda studies inevitably reach.

    So yes, it’s true that the gun rights crowd isn’t interested in this kind of “evidence”. But it’s not because we are ignorant or don’t care about the truth — it’s because we see the propaganda for what it is. (This is also the reason the CDC had its gun research defunded — every study they sponsored was propaganda of this sort.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *