Freakonomics Prof: Create a National Firearms Safety Administration [VIDEO]

You’d think that Stephen J. Dubner would know better than to recommend the creation of another federal agency to infringe upon Americans’ natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms in the name of public safety. The Freakonomics co-inventor and former Highlights contributor should be the master of unintended consequences prognostication. He should be able to see that NFSA would make ATF meddling look like child’s play. Nope. Dubner’s naiveté  knows no bounds, which is odd considering his generally pro-gun stance and firearms-related personal history . . .

You know I grew up in – I personally grew up in a gun culture. I grew up in upstate New York where most families had guns for hunting, target practice, whatever. The vast majority of people I knew never used their guns for any crime. Most laws that we make to protect people from guns are usually ignored by the criminals and obeyed by the law abiding people. And so I think that if you had better data there’d be no one more in favor of it than law abiding gun owners because they don’t want to be smeared and lumped in with the criminals who use guns. So that’s where data can be a kind of different tool in the arsenal when you’re trying to make better policy or public policy because otherwise you’re just kind of shouting at each other with your ideology rather than understanding how people actually behave.

The truth will set gun owners free! Yes, well, since when was a government agency’s primary consideration “the truth” rather than the continuation and expansion of its own power? Equally, when you’re a data collector, anything that helps you collect data is a good thing. Given the history of gun registration leading to gun confiscation leading to mass murder … wrong. In short, bad landing wrong airport, Mr. Dubner. Try again.


  1. avatar Mister Fleas says:

    No to the proposed new Administration. Regardless of any gun control politics, we are too deeply in debt to create what will surely be a perpetually expanding government agency.

    1. avatar Ethan says:

      It doesn’t take a new administration to do sophomore-level statistical analysis. Anyone with a pulse and 2 ounces of concentration can do the math.

  2. avatar Rusty Chains says:

    Clear to me that even if this guy is well intended this is a really bad idea. The problem with something like this is who would be included in the staffing. If it is a government entity, then the staff will be chosen by the most notorious anti gunner to occupy the White House in the entire history of this country. If it is not a government controlled agency then the lefties will just ignore it and produce their own pseudo-science studies as they have done for years.

    This is a bad idea and should be stomped on hard.

  3. avatar Davis Thompson says:

    Funny. I watched this right after reviewing CDC cause of death statistics as they relate to firearms. The data is out there. Tons of it. The last thing we need is another federal agency to overreach their mandate.

    1. avatar Bob says:

      Exactly! We don’t need any more data. The data already exists. Lots of data. High quality data with no political biases attached.

      The problem is that the anti-gun side refuses to accept or even look at any data which disagrees with their preconceived, emotion-driven conclusion. And the pro-gun side refuses to accept arguments that are completely emotions-based and contradicted by factual data. Until both sides can agree on the fundamental data (and we never can), then we will never resolve the gun rights/gun control question.

      “It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into.” ― Jonathan Swift

      “You can lead someone to knowledge, but you can’t make them think.”

      Hoplophobia – an IRRATIONAL fear of guns.

  4. To do what he is suggesting would require a database of who owns what. I personally would rather die than submit to that. This is exactly how the Jewish people where disarmed in Germany in WW2. Over my cold dead body.

    1. avatar Jordan says:

      “Over my cold dead body.”

      Preferably theirs.

      1. avatar Ethan says:

        “You may indeed find me lying dead in a ditch some day, but by god you will find me on a pile of BRASS.”

        One of my favorite quotes. 😉

  5. avatar George Allen says:

    No matter how it starts out, any govt institution always ends up having its own health and growth as its highest priority. As most govt institutions are created to solve a problem, actually solving that problem is tantamount to suicide. Moreover, in order to grow larger and more powerful (“healthier” in a perverse way), the problem will be made even worse and new problems found that can only be addressed the ever-helpful govt agency.

    Dubner is a shill or a fool.

  6. avatar Removed_californian says:

    Classic “if you have nothing to hide then you won’t have any problem with us looking”…

    Man I get too angry when dealing with idiots like this.

    Like really, is the second amendment that hard to comprehend? (Of course I know it isn’t a matter of understanding, rather the issue of controlling…)

    1. avatar Ethan says:

      My first (albeit extremely juvenile) thought whenever I hear that argument made is
      “Oh, well you won’t mind if i stick my fingers up your ____ then, will you? You know, just to check…..

      ….WHAT? You mean you don’t want that? Why not? I thought it was ‘nothing to hide, nothing to fear’?”

      I would never say that to someone, but it does make me giggle a little every time I hear that line.
      I think we could summarize that rationale in two words: Demonstrably False.

  7. avatar Ralph says:

    More data? Why not just call the NSA, which knows everything about everybody including the color of our underwear and the last time we changed ’em.

    1. avatar Indiana Tom says:

      The NSA has so much data that they can tell you all the tiny details of a terrorist, but not tell you that the person is indeed a terrorist.

  8. avatar Sixpack70 says:

    People like this guy need to look at the history of accidental gun deaths in America. It’s dropped drastically while the population and gun ownership has grown. We don’t need no stinking firearms safety administration!

  9. avatar Mr Pierogie says:

    Wait, once an accident occurs, what’s the difference if the car is legally owned or stolen? Are we going to ban or restrict cars if most crashes involve stolen vehicles? What’s the point of a d-base like that? I can understand if somebody wants to study reasons of all accidents (regardless whether the vehicle is stolen or not). Such a study could yield improvements to car safety or road design etc. But how does that translate to guns?

  10. avatar Bob Watson says:

    What a bunch of nattering nabobs of negativism. Little Stevie is on to something. A new federal bureaucracy to collect data on how the citizens of this country exercise their second ammendment rights, and devise, implement and enforce regulations is just what we need. But why stop there? Other rights can be just as controversial, freedom of speech, religion and do not forget freedom from unwarrented searches. Yes data on how we exercise our rights could eventually prove to everyone that we do not need our rights at all.

  11. avatar Chris T from KY says:

    Why is another white jewish person calling for more government control when it comes to guns? Chuck Schumer, Diane Feinstein, the anti defamation league, etc. They seem to hate freedom to me. What is it with liberal jews?
    I joined the JPFO in 1994. Their short film “No Guns for Negros” is outstanding. Duhner has said fewer black children being born would reduce the crime rate.

  12. avatar bolero says:

    All fine and good, but he operates on the false premise that the Gubment and certain moms don’t have other agendas besides safety. The foundation of his idea is built on sand.

    Will appeal to FUDs and Zumbos, however.

    I thought the same way about 25 years ago, it’s the “can’t we all just get along” canard.

  13. avatar C. Z. says:

    Dubner more accurately described the dynamics of the struggle for the 2nd Amendment than almost anyone I’ve heard. He makes good points, excellent actually. How you view the proposal depends on how you think such an organization would behave. If such an organization would actually ensure the safety of the 2A then that would be a step forward. Currently there is only a law enforcement branch of the government that deals with arms (ATF), I’m sure we would all love it if they spent less of their time and tax payer money messing with gun owners and more time protecting the rights associated with guns.

    1. avatar Indiana Tom says:

      they spent less of their time and tax payer money messing with gun owners and more time protecting the rights associated with guns.
      Welcome to the Twilight Zone.

    2. avatar Ralph says:

      Washington has become so irretrievably corrupt that no agency can be trusted. Not even a little. Ever. Period.

  14. avatar GunGeek says:

    “Debate is contentious because there is very little good data on” Wish it were true, but facts and data seem to irrelevant to Brady, etc.

    a. Who owns guns?
    Many studies including “A Gallup poll quoted by the Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics asked U.S. residents the following question:

    Do you have a gun in your home?

    In 2010, 39% of respondents answered “yes.” The figure has been fluctuating between 38% and 42% in polls taken since 2000, and has ranged between 36% and 51% since polling began in 1959.

    This figure depends on people answering honestly; the National Rifle Association claims that a more accurate current figure is almost half of U.S. households.” and and and

    NET: we have ample data

    b. What share of guns used crime are illegal?

    100% by definition. But a detailed look gets tricky. Is crime defined as one charged or convicted? What’s the definition of illegal: Illegally used? Illegally obtained? Illegally possessed? Illegal other?

    Again, plenty of studies. Pick this or another

    c. how guns are used?
    Not sure I understand the point or question. Some are vault queens. Some are carried daily,

    d. how do they get in hands of those that use them for crime?
    Again, lots of studies, illegal market (drug dealer or fence: ~ 30%,; stolen: ~10%. Variation by juvenile or adult.

    “The more we know about how every accident happens, the more we can do for prevention”

    We know an enormous amount about firearm accidents. Seems like the relevant question is: “do we know enough?” and “what is the cost trade-off to reduce firearm accidents?” Note: EPA, NHTSI, are required to justify changes based on economic considerations. If similarly required, likely that most firearms would be on CA’s approved list.

    Dubner likes creating a National Firearms Safety Administration along lines NHTSI.

    Seems like we already have ample data and a reporting entity FBI UCR. Can improve reporting accuracy and timeliness by withholding funding from states that fail to comply.

    His recommendations seem ill-considered. Is Dubner in a ‘publish or perish’ position?

    1. avatar Bob says:

      What I said in a reply above, but with links to some of the actual data.

  15. avatar Indiana Tom says:

    We need another new government agency and associated programs because all of the government agencies and programs have worked just so swell in the past. Gee Wally, those government programs are really swell. Yea, Beav, oodles of government is really swell. Who needs silly rights when the government is protecting you?

    1. avatar Ralph says:

      Ward, I think you were a little rough on the beaver last night.

  16. avatar Dan says:

    National Firearms Safety Administration. I thought that already existed. It is Called the National Rifle Association. Promoting and teaching gun safety for the past 100 plus years.

  17. avatar TruthTellers says:

    I think the author misspelled the guys last name. The correct name is Doobie, because only a person who smoked a few of them would think creating another bureaucratic department of the federal government is a good idea.

    1. avatar Marcus (Aurelius) Payne says:

      I thought you were gonna go with the Electric Company, the good doobie and the dumb doobie.

  18. avatar Pete says:

    I remember trying to read that book and not finishing due to what I perceived as the fascist vibe.

    1. avatar Pete says:

      I mean, hey, smear me and lump me in with the criminals, if you’re so inclined. If people are hysterical I say don’t indulge them, that would reinforce it.

  19. avatar Tominator says:

    If ‘policy’ were dictated by facts….hey! Good diatribe! However the reality is that the more data government gets [And at a huge taxpayer funded expense!] the more it get’s twisted to an agenda.

    The way our government was intended by the founders? Yes, this would work…..then reality sets in and it becomes yet another EXPENSIVE boondoggle with the final result of no firearms in public hands.

  20. avatar MSgtB says:

    And just how much data are criminals going to report? NONE! Only data from criminal side will come via LEOs, just as it does now.
    Further burden on the law abiding People of the Gun.

  21. avatar Former Water Walker says:

    Yep we sure need another alphabet agency-and is this the guy who invented Goofus and Gallant? He must have modeled Goofus after himself…

  22. avatar SpecialK says:

    A few important items need to be addressed:

    1. The headline for this article is inaccurate. Stephen Dubner is not a professor of anything, least of all economics. Dubner co-wrote the Freakononics series with an actual professor of economics named Steven Levitt.

    2. Levitt is pretty darn pro-gun. Dubner hosts a podcast that Levitt appears on frequently. They performed one on gun control after Newtown. Levitt basically stated that gun control was a fool’s errand and a waste of time, citing the black markets that would arise and the fact that gun control just makes it harder for the law abiding to own guns. He could have been a TTAG contributor.

    3. Dubner is a writer, a former writer for the New York Times, and a one-time musician. He has every right to his opinion, but has no training or education that in any way qualifies him as an expert in economics, criminology, firearms, etc.

    4. Although I disagree with him completely here, Dubner usually strikes me as a very thoughtful person with interesting ideas. His podcast is worth a listen.

  23. avatar JSJ says:

    The “Federal Bureau of You’ll put an eye out”.


    1. avatar Marcus (Aurelius) Payne says:

      Secretly run by Black Bart.

  24. avatar Glenn says:

    Levitt and Drubner published their book Freakonomics in 2005.
    John Lott published his book Freedonomics dispelling some of their myths in 2007.

    Lott showed how Gun Control failed to reduce crime and how Right To Carry Laws actually reduced gun violence.

    Lott also showed that the public availability of abortion causes a rise of illegitimacy.

  25. avatar Pete S. says:

    Listen to his radio show:

    Levitt is one of the most reasonable people I’ve ever heard when talking about gun violence.

  26. avatar Kyle says:

    I get his point, but I think it is naïve in the extreme. Government agencies can become subject to political bias. I mean it would be like the gun version of the EPA. This is where that ‘ole ‘Merican distrust of government comes into play. Imagine President Obama appointing the head of such an agency. I doubt it would be a pro-gun person.

  27. avatar Mad Max says:

    We already have a National Firearms Safety Administration, it goes by the initials “NRA”.

  28. He was smooth, well spoken and articulate, wonder who paid him? Data gathering equals registration. It is like a census to track people but this would track BOTH people and guns, can we say reeducation camps? The 2nd Amendment was put into the Constitution so the people could protect themselves from a corrupt government. That is why it says “shall not infringe” so we can have what the government has to prevent our freedom Holocaust.

  29. avatar TyrannyOfEvilMen says:

    Stephen Dubner is a smart guy but he falls into the trap that many smart people do: To a legislator, every problem looks like it can be solved by a new law. To an academic, every problem looks like it can be solved by more data.

    Frankly, I don’t care how smart you may be. When it comes to my rights, your opinion is moot.

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