Sunday, October 29, 2017

A researcher abandons the gun control lie

I was deeply impressed by a recent article:  I used to think gun control was the answer. My research told me otherwise.

It made the rounds on social media for an important reason.  When it comes to the gun control debate, very few people are intellectually honest.  We're all biased, and it's hard to overcome that, but facts matter.  So, I like it when researchers, statisticians and criminologists who disagree with me publish honest findings.  Yes, for me it is confirmation bias.  It isn't for them, however, and that makes it especially meaningful.

This researcher is anti gun.  As she explains:
By the time we published our project, I didn’t believe in many of the interventions I’d heard politicians tout. I was still anti-gun, at least from the point of view of most gun owners, and I don’t want a gun in my home, as I think the risk outweighs the benefits. But I can’t endorse policies whose only selling point is that gun owners hate them. Policies that often seem as if they were drafted by people who have encountered guns only as a figure in a briefing book or an image on the news.   [Emphasis mine]
What about her project convinced her of this?  I recommend reading her article.  It's brief and pithy.  The really short version is:
I researched the strictly tightened gun laws in Britain and Australia and concluded that they didn’t prove much about what America’s policy should be. Neither nation experienced drops in mass shootings or other gun related-crime that could be attributed to their buybacks and bans. Mass shootings were too rare in Australia for their absence after the buyback program to be clear evidence of progress. And in both Australia and Britain, the gun restrictions had an ambiguous effect on other gun-related crimes or deaths.
Britain and Australia share a lot in common with the U.S., so studying them is logical.

What about suppressors? 

As for silencers — they deserve that name only in movies, where they reduce gunfire to a soft puick puick. In real life, silencers limit hearing damage for shooters but don’t make gunfire dangerously quiet. An AR-15 with a silencer is about as loud as a jackhammer. Magazine limits were a little more promising, but a practiced shooter could still change magazines so fast as to make the limit meaningless.

For those who wish to end gun violence (and I'd love to end all violence regardless of the tool used), there is hope.  It just doesn't lie in broad gun control measures.
Instead, I found the most hope in more narrowly tailored interventions. Potential suicide victims, women menaced by their abusive partners and kids swept up in street vendettas are all in danger from guns, but they each require different protections.

Older men, who make up the largest share of gun suicides, need better access to people who could care for them and get them help. Women endangered by specific men need to be prioritized by police, who can enforce restraining orders prohibiting these men from buying and owning guns. Younger men at risk of violence need to be identified before they take a life or lose theirs and to be connected to mentors who can help them de-escalate conflicts.

Even the most data-driven practices, such as New Orleans’ plan to identify gang members for intervention based on previous arrests and weapons seizures, wind up more personal than most policies floated. The young men at risk can be identified by an algorithm, but they have to be disarmed one by one, personally — not en masse as though they were all interchangeable. A reduction in gun deaths is most likely to come from finding smaller chances for victories and expanding those solutions as much as possible. We save lives by focusing on a range of tactics to protect the different kinds of potential victims and reforming potential killers, not from sweeping bans focused on the guns themselves.
This is what many firearms enthusiasts have been saying we should do all along.  The tool isn't the problem.  If we don't address the problems, we will never solve them.

Religious Freedom

There's a disagreement in US society about conflicting rights.  Some people don't believe that others should believe what they do, and they're willing to ask the government to pass laws to try to force a change.  That's not a great idea.  This video outlines what religious freedom is, and a bit about why it matters.