Although first articulated by Bernard M. Baruch in 1946, I have always associated that. saying with Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan. And I have never seen a more perfect example than in a recent “research” paper by director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center David Hemenway, and an article about that study by Alexandrea Boguhn published at MediaMatters.org. That’s because all this “study” has done is collect a bunch of opinions . . .
Far be it from me to cast aspersions on the ethics professional skills of a paid anti-self-defense hack Ph.D.-holding Hahvahd Professah, but looking at how he conducted this “study” and presents his data reminds me of an old Mad Magazine cartoon where a pollster guarantees a politician results that he’ll like. When asked by the “behind-the-scenes” reporter how he can make such a guarantee the pollster replies that it’s simple; “We’ll just question his family and friends.” Everyone has always thought that about some polling organizations, but it’s hardly the way to conduct scientific research, right?
Wrong! That is exactly what Prof. Hemenway has done.
Hemenway’s team at Harvard went through about 1,200 articles on firearms published since 2011 in peer-reviewed journals focused on public health, public policy, sociology, and criminology. In May 2014, Hemenway began sending monthly surveys to the authors of these articles—upwards of 300 people—with questions concerning firearm use, background checks, and other gun policies.
First and foremost we need to remember that the freedom to own and carry the weapon of your choice is a natural, fundamental, and inalienable human, individual, civil and Constitutional right — subject neither to the democratic process nor to arguments grounded in social utility.
Second of all, this “study” doesn’t provide any real facts, just a statistical breakdown of opinions, answers to the questionnaires the Prof.’s crack research team had sent out. So I guess it is up to me to provide some facts.
The Prof.’s first question and Alexandrea’s pontification:
- Do Strict Gun Laws Encourage Mass Shootings?
Conservative Media: Strict Gun Laws Encourage Mass Shootings. In January, right-wing media figures rushed to blame France’s strict gun policies after three gunmen killed 12 people at the offices of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo during a terrorist attack. …
Experts: Strong Gun Laws Help Reduce Homicide. The Harvard survey found that 71 percent of experts agreed that strong gun laws help reduce homicide rates:
Okay, first of all, nice bait-and-switch; you start out talking about mass shootings then switch to all homicides.
Second, having listened to the statements of those media figures I can tell you that no one said that strict gun laws encourage mass shootings, they were saying that France’s firearm prohibitions enabled the mass shooting. This is the fact that the antis try to dance around and ignore, or failing that to ridicule; the vast majority of mass shootings take place in putatively gun-free zones. And if you want to take someone’s opinion for it, how about this one:
A full 86 percent feel that casualties would have been reduced or avoided in recent tragedies like Newtown and Aurora if a legally-armed citizen was present (casualties reduced: 80 percent; avoided altogether: 6.2 percent). . . .[Edited to correct typo]
Next up on the chopping block:
- Do Concealed Carry Laws Reduce Crime Rates?
Conservative Media: Concealed Carry Laws Reduce Crime. Conservative media and the NRA have repeatedly pushed the myth that concealed carry laws help reduce crime rates by allowing people to defend themselves. …
Experts: Concealed Carry Laws Don’t Reduce Crime Rates. Sixty-two percent of experts disagreed with claims that concealed carry laws reduce crime rates:
Well, those are their opinions, here is a hard fact from Dr. Lott:
Overwhelmingly, academic research supports the benefits from these laws. Among peer-reviewed academic studies by criminologists and economists, 18 find that right-to-carry laws reduce violent crime, 10 claim no effect, and just one claims one type of crime increases slightly (an older date list of research is available here).
So it would seem that 18 out of 29 (or 62%) of criminologists and economists present evidence that concealed carry laws do reduce crime rates. Facts vs. Opinions . . . I’m going with facts.
Next is opinion number 3:
- Does Access To A Firearm Affect Suicide Rates?
Conservative Media: Link Between Firearm Access And Suicide Is Bogus. Conservative media figures have consistently downplayed the role of guns in suicide deaths, despite extensive evidence linking firearm availability to suicide in the United States. …
Experts: Having Guns In The Home Increases Risk Of Suicide. According to the survey, 84 percent of experts agreed that “having a gun in the home increases the risk of suicide”:
Well if that were the case, how can you explain this table (sources available here)?
But if you want to argue that cultural and economic factors play a role (which, oddly enough, the antis rarely want to do when arguing crime rates across different countries) and that we should just be looking at the US of A, I can certainly oblige you. From Gun Facts ver. 6.2 we get the following table (which I mainly picked for the handgun supply part):
But if you look at the handgun supply above, and then the suicide rates from 1981 – 2013 (data from the CDC’s WISQARS) below:
You will see that there isn’t even any sort of correlation, much less causation.
Another “guns cause suicides” meme (jeez, and they call us “fetishists”) is a figure that gets trotted out occasionally, that “X% of new firearm owners commit suicide within Y-timeframe of bringing a gun into the home.” What this completely ignores is the fact that some depressed and suicidal people actually go out and buy a gun with which they intend to commit suicide.
Okay, I am just going to debunk one more, because plowing through this utter bullshit is depressing:
- Are Guns Used More Often To Commit Crimes Or In Self-Defense?
Conservative Media: Guns Are Mostly Used As Tool For Self-Defense. Right-wing media frequently promote the myth that guns are primarily used for self-defense, despite guns rarely being used for that purpose.
Experts: Guns Are Not Used In Self-Defense More Often Than They Are Used In Crimes. Seventy-three percent of experts disagreed with the claim that guns are used “in self-defense far more often than they are used in crime”:
Hmm, “right-wing media” is it? I guess the good professor is throwing Drs. Philip Cook and Jens Ludwig (who both have long records as strong proponents of very strict gun control) under the bus. They, after all, are the authors of a study published in May 1997, under the auspices of the Clinton DoJ, which claimed that there were in excess of 1.4 million Defensive Gun Uses (DGUs) annually. As I point out in an earlier TTAG piece, using extremely conservative numbers, 1.4 million DGUs a year probably equate to a minimum of 25,000 lives saved annually, vs. an annual average (from 2004 – 2013) of 11,805 firearm related homicides.
Keep your opinions, Doc; I’ll stick with the facts.