Book Review: ‘Guns and Control’ by Guy Smith

By Robert B. Young, MD

Guy Smith is a man after my own heart. He’s curious, doesn’t accept pronouncements of truth by authority, and digs deeper in order to prove it himself. His entry into the topsy-turvy world of contrafactual “research” by, shall we say, skeptics about guns parallels my own.

We both moved from accepting popular disapproval of firearms in society, to wondering why, to making our own inquiries and analyses. We both discovered the truth is the opposite: Firearms are an important part of American culture, are overwhelmingly safely, responsibly owned and used, and help protect more citizens from harm than they are involved in hurting them.

There are differences in his favor. Smith has been at this over 20 years and has developed an encyclopedic website called GunFacts. He posts everything he learns there (now with help from a dedicated group of volunteer researchers as the Gun Facts Project).

I go back 10 years as an amateur, Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership is a volunteer project run by practicing physicians. You can learn a lot from searching DRGO, but all that and more is on Smith’s GunFacts website, and better organized.

All those years and thousands of facts later, he has collected in Guns and Control everything you need to know about gun ownership and the efforts to weaponize research to justify restricting it. Its title precisely states the conflict we face, in this election year and every day. The activists who argue for licensing users, banning guns and other infringements on our natural, constitutional rights are primarily motivated by and depend on emotional arguments.

Smith cuts through that and focuses on “just the facts, ma’am.” The book’s subtitle, A Nonpartisan Guide to Understanding Mass Public Shootings, Gun Accidents, Crime, Public Carry, Suicides, Defensive Use, and More makes that clear, though in too much a Table-of-Contents manner.

guy smith guns and control

Courtesy Guy Smith, Guns and Control

As he guides us through objective evidence on topics including the prevalence of firearms in the U.S., mass shootings, suicide and criminal use, carry and defensive uses, and accidents, we realize that the story is the same in each area. Guns are not the issue — how people use them is.

The issue isn’t how legal, knowledgeable gun owners use firearms, but how they are used by the “murderer, rapist, bandit, gangbanger, or thug.” Smith presents salient comparisons between countries and cultures, which make it clear that custom and society determine the rates of violence of all kinds in different places.

In the penultimate chapter, he discusses perhaps the most important points in the book—the many ways in which research goes wrong, so often by anti-gun academics. Smith himself has “encountered hundreds of bad studies,” and new such ones each week.

Critical decisions are made in study design that determine the quality of data and the reliability of its sources, the choice of methodology (not that which leads toward desirable conclusions), the assumptions made in the analysis (which too often are personal beliefs of the author) and the variables examined in the work (but “correlation does not equal causation”). All of these are subject to bias on the part of study authors.

Smith and I agree, too, on the particularly abysmal work of medical and public health researchers on firearm violence issues. The subject is best evaluated by criminologists, with help from economists who understand cost-benefit analysis.

Smith has drawn tables and charts from numerous sources (and created many himself) that clearly illustrate the comparisons and trends he talks about. There are many ways to cast light into obscure, hidden methods of manipulating data, and he avails himself of all of them.

You can, in fact, find all this at the GunFacts website. But Smith’s book organizes and explains it so that you get an overarching picture of data being consistently manipulated in all realms of official antagonism toward firearms. And for those of us who like to hold information on a subject in our hands, books beat all.

There will be plenty more bad studies coming to explicate, and Smith and the Gun Facts Project will continue doing so (as will DRGO). But at this moment in time, Guns and Control details for us just about everything we need to know.

Control is indeed the end game of anti-gun “safety” studies. Knowing how these researchers mold their work to that end is how we can reverse their impact on public opinion.

Read Guns and Control, reference it, share it. It is, as Smith states, “pro-fact and anti-B.S.” It’s the medicine firearm research and society need today.

 

Robert B. Young, MD is a psychiatrist practicing in Pittsford, NY, an associate clinical professor at the University of Rochester School of Medicine, and a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association.

This article was originally published at drgo.us and is reprinted here with permission. 

comments

  1. avatar Montana Actual says:

    “Guy Smith is a man after my own heart. He’s curious, doesn’t accept pronouncements of truth by authority, and digs deeper in order to prove it himself.”

    Geez… if you love him so much why don’t you marry him?

    jk. Good read. Not gonna lie, I’m not much of a book reader anymore, but I am interested. I’ll add it to the cart is the most I can give you.

  2. avatar strych9 says:

    While it’s nice to have facts we’re going to have to get more comfortable with emotional manipulation. Sorry, just the way it is. Karen is too fucking stupid to be reached otherwise.

    I mean, has anyone here seen a major news source talking about the “climate change” papers published this year? You know, the ones published by actual scientists in major journals? The ones overwhelmingly eviscerating the “climate change” talking points that pols blather about?

    You all know what I’m talking about right? Top line on CNN?

    Or what about the science showing that CoV-2 mainly spreads at home? Like 75-80% of spread, or more, happens in the home?

    And it’s not like this is confined to PC talking points either. I mean, read an intro level bio textbook and then listen to a mask/no mask argument. Realize that both sides are fucking morons talking out their ass. But damn to they believe that shit with a passion!

    1. avatar Montana Actual says:

      I agree.

      Masks are stupid.

      Biden already talking about a COVID task force, rejoining WHO, paris tree hugging act, giving CDC more power to strike fear into propaga… I mean news watchers…

      1. avatar LampOfDiogenes says:

        Masks are not, inherently, stupid. They have valid, and efficacious, uses. Your doctor wears a “procedure mask” when he operates on you . . . to protect you. They have some efficacy for, in a limited context, preventing me (the mask wearer) from infecting you (the vulnerable person). Once. With a clean mask. If I don’t touch my face, adjust the mask, etc., and toss it as soon as I’m done. For those uses, masks are useful and necessary.

        As a “I wear the same damn mask I put on two days ago, adjust it all the time (they do fog the hell out of glasses), and maybe I’ll change it tomorrow” palliative? It is widespread public moral preening and intellectual onanism.

        I don’t hate masks – I wish people knew how to use them. What I HATE are “mask mandates”.

        1. avatar strych9 says:

          Realistically the problem, as you note, lies in the nuance of usage. What type of mask, if it’s used correctly, where it’s used, for how long, if it’s reused etc etc.

          Personally I’m not anti-mask or pro-mask. I don’t care for that argument because the answer varies with the above (and other) questions. That’s how PPE works. Always.

          However, I’m tired of one side acting like masks are a panacea (with a religious fervor I might add) while the other side argues that it traps molecular oxygen or CO2 while allowing something made up of ~930,000 atoms to pass through “like mosquitoes through a chain link fence” (and that’s just the RNA strand of CoV-2, not the capsid, I’m not counting anything more than the genetic material structure here which is ssRNA).

          The most recent research indicates that, as I suspected because we see this with other diseases, there’s a rare genetic mutation (actually a combination of mutations) that makes people very susceptible to this particular disease. Ultimately those people are basically boned. They hit the jackpot in the shit-lotto genetically speaking. That sucks but there’s nothing you can do about it other than test people for those mutations and then, if they have them, isolate them. Maybe a vaccine can protect them in the future but that’s actually somewhat doubtful. They have a mutation which causes CoV-2 to “teach” their immune system to create an auto-immune disorder (specifically creating auto-antibodies for interferon proteins which are key in our immune system’s signalling. IOW, in a small percentage of people CoV-2 tricks their immune system into attacking itself which causes a cascading effect. Combined with a secondary or tertiary infection this is probably going to be lethal).

          But other diseases can do that to them too. Generally if the person is young (<35 or so), they're fucked for [probably a short and shitty] life because their T-cells will remember this until they die. Older people have a greater chance of having these mutations (because science) BUT if they survive it their b-cells will forget how to make the auto-antibodies in about 90 days. So as long as they don't get another infection in that time frame they should be OK and they may never have the problem again. In fact, a reinfection with CoV-2 wouldn't necessarily set off the auto-immune issue again because all of this involves chemistry that's random and based on diffusion in aqueous solution.

          But we know this kind of thing happens with other diseases in other people. It's why run-of-the-mill flu kills certain children with a quickness. And at this point there's literally nothing we can do about it. Mostly we don't even bother to research exactly why it happens because it varies from individual to individual and it's not particularly common.

          My biggest issue here is that public officials are NOT really "following the science". They mostly don't know fuck-all about science but they know a big percentage of the public doesn't either yet treats science like it's some sort of infallible system like a religion. What they did was panic at the start of this and unlike actual scientists, politicians have a big issue with admitting they were wrong because they fear blame. So now they're just doubling and tripling down on things we know don't work and threatening to get super harsh about enforcement if people don't listen. That's fucking stupid.

          At the same time pols are absolutely incapable of admitting the truth: There really isn't a good public policy for this, so you have to do what you can to take care of yourself and use your best personal judgement until medicine catches up with this new disease. Ya pays your money and takes ya chances. Just like everything else in life.

          I could sit here and bang out, no shit, 50 pages of the idiocy from both sides of this and add another 10 pages of the citations for the real information on this. Almost NONE of the public argument or public polices have any thing to do with reality. At best they’re like TSA in most cases, theater. However, what really does bother me about this is that all that idiocy and ignorance isn’t the problem. It’s a symptom of the actual problem. And you can tell this is the case based on certain flashes of reality that you get, like the Danes ordering killing 17 million minks yesterday, or the Dutch doing the same a couple months back. Those orders are based on actual science, though I would argue a misinterpretation of the science when put in the context of overall policy, but are logically in total juxtaposition to most of the rest of what these governments say on a daily basis. Which raises the question; Why does no one ever point this out in a larger forum? Are they afraid of consequences for questioning TPTB? Too stupid to see the contradiction? Too poorly educated to understand any of this from the jump? All of the above?

    2. avatar Kendahl says:

      Of course COVID-19 spreads in the home. If one member of a family catches it outside the home and brings it back, he or she will infect everyone in the family. Depending on inherent resistance (i.e. genetics), some of the family will suffer few, if any, symptoms. Others, especially if they are elderly (i.e. grandparents) or already suffer from a chronic disease are likely to be overwhelmed by the virus with fatal consequences. The purpose of social distancing, masks and staying home if you think you are ill is to reduce the chances of infecting a member of an otherwise virus free family. This is so fucking obvious that it amazes me there is anyone too stupid to understand it.

      1. avatar strych9 says:

        The point obviously went over your head. Hey, it happens.

        1. avatar BeoBear says:

          LOL

    3. avatar The Crimson Pirate says:

      Any links to any of that? The climate articles sound particularly interesting but nothing like that has been in the alternate news sources that many of us follow, and they are usually good a picking up such things.

      1. avatar strych9 says:

        Right now for free I can link you the abstracts, both come with the dataset attached at the bottom as “supporting information”. For most of this stuff you if you want the full article you have to pay for the journal or have access to it through a school that bought the journal subscription. This is like 2/40 of the papers so far this year.

        The Suspicious Observers astronomical weather channel on YouTube links to this kind of stuff pretty regularly because it’s tied to sun weather and whatnot. Sometimes those guys get a bit “out there” IMHO, overblowing what we don’t know as if it’s the end-all-be-all but overall they’re not bad and they definitely keep up on the latest research. I’ll link the video where the guy talks about it most recently too (yesterday).

        Quantifying structural uncertainty in paleoclimate data assimilation with an application to the Last Millennium: https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2020GL090485

        Differences between ICESat and CryoSat‐2 sea ice thicknesses over the Arctic: Consequences for analyzing the ice volume trend: https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1029/2020JD033103

      2. avatar hawkeye says:

        I was getting bored last week, convalescing at home. Negative for Wuhan but positive for flaming bad sinus infection. I nearly went loopy following election news, so decided to check some of the latest info on climate change instead. Yeah, I know, what did that accomplish? Blame it on the meds. Anyhow, I ran across this video and several others from this outfit in Canada, Climate Discussion Nexus. They seem to have a pretty level-headed take on the issue, although there may be better stuff out there.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ewJ6TI8ccAw

  3. avatar doesky2 says:

    Interesting graph.
    Would be more interesting if I could read the country names.
    This site is legendary for it’s horrible chartsmanship.

    1. avatar LOL @ GOOF says:

      …just as you are legendary for being a socksniffing asshat.

      1. avatar Geoff "I'm getting too old for this shit" PR says:

        Awwwwwwww…

        Did the widdle troll’s mommy put ground glass in your wanking lube again?

        She’s trying to tell you something, boy… 😉

        1. avatar LOL @ GOOF says:

          No. And what the hell are you talking about, 🤡?

    2. avatar Another Ed says:

      The “Ownership Rate” graph would be better represented with a bar graph or histogram instead of lines connecting adjacent data points. The rate of ownership in each country is independent of the rate of ownership in any other country.

  4. avatar Debbie W. says:

    Making Gun Control complicated puts a thin line between right and wrong whereas the simple Truth about Gun Control puts miles between right and wrong.
    I. E. Gun Control is rooted in racism and genocide. Therefore Gun Control is a racist and nazi based agenda that has no place whatsoever in free society especially one with a 2A.
    Lest we forget…The horrific suffering and death attributed to Gun Control in the USA and across the globe is far too devastating to allow such a monster to exist.

  5. avatar Jimmy Beam says:

    For those of you who said you want to “die in a pile of brass,” you will get your chance of the Dems cheat the Georgia vote and get the Senate.

    1. avatar Montana Actual says:

      Finally.

      Arkansas police chief resigned after threatening marxist democrats.

      We are everywhere and getting more pissed off by the second… Sadly, they see it as action when in reality, it’s a reaction.

      I urge you to organize locally if you have not been already. Comms, comms, comms!

      1. avatar Dave says:

        What are good resources to learn about comms?

        1. avatar Geoff "I'm getting too old for this shit" PR says:

          Survivalist blogs…

        2. avatar strych9 says:

          For the ultra basics I’d start here:

    2. avatar Mark says:

      Get the message to vote out to Georgians who aren’t single-issue 2A voters. The time for preaching to the choir is long past.

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