The Senate Judiciary Committee met today to discuss “The Gun Violence Epidemic: A Public Health Crisis.” One of the witnesses was Dr. Megan Ranney of the Yale School of Public Health. One of her interrogators was Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA). …
“Let me ask you this. Why do you think that Chicago has become America’s largest outdoor shooting range? Do you think it’s because of Chicago citizens, who have no criminal record, but who lawfully have a gun in their homes for protection, or perhaps for hunting? Or do you think it’s because of a finite group of criminals who have rap sheets as long as King Kong’s arm?” …
Dr. Ranney made the same statistical point at the state level:
“So Mississippi, Louisiana, Missouri actually have higher firearm death rates, obviously there’s certain … ”
Kennedy interrupted her. He was not going to let facts distract from his polemic. For the record, Louisiana is the second most murderous state. It is also the third lowest in life expectancy — one of the nine red states on the top ten list of places where citizens die young.
Ranney replied it was not her area of expertise. Nevertheless, Kennedy was determined to keep the focus away from the violence in his own backyard.
Kennedy: “What about Chicago?”
Ranney: “So I don’t live in Chicago. It’s not my primary area of research.”
Kennedy: “You don’t have an opinion on that?”
Ranney then made the point that gun deaths are caused by guns. She also, being an academic and not a politician, tried to answer the question she was asked.
“I think there is easy access to firearms, combined with environmental conditions and lack of great education. There have actually been studies showing that when you green vacant lots and repair abandoned buildings in urban neighborhoods, you see decreases in gunshots and violence as well as decreases in stress and depression in the neighborhoods around them.”
Kennedy, well aware that his intended audience wanted smackdowns, not discussion, dissed Ranney while piously insisting he was not dissing her:
“No disrespect Doc, but that sounds a lot like word salad to me.”