You probably know Malcolm Gladwell [above] from his book, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference. Since that 2000 breakout bestseller Mr. Gladwell has written four more hits, all exploring the nexus of psychology and sociology. So when The New Yorker podcaster and executive editor Dorothy Wickenden quizzed Gladwell (her employee) on the impact of gun control on school shootings, you’d expect him to take a measured view. And you’d be right . . .
What we’re looking at here is a powerful, contagious, adolescent, uh, cultural pathology that has, uh, used the availability of guns to extend its reach. But, you know, there have been school shootings in Germany and Norway and Canada and places where there aren’t a lot of guns, so, I don’t know. And if you look at the cases of these kids, uh, in many of these cases they got access to guns that would still have been available even in the presence of much more, uh, draconian gun control measures.
Fair enough? Maybe so. But not nearly good enough for Ms. Wickenden, whose enthusiasm for civilian disarmament is evident whenever The New Yorker addresses “gun violence.” Gladwell — unlike fired Gun Guys author Dan Baum — soon abandons rational thought and analysis to parrot the company line on gun control.
GLADWELL: Yeah, [gun control] doesn’t solve, doesn’t solve the [problem of school shootings], you know, you and I could go online and buy all the materials we need to make a bomb that can do serious damage. So it just seems to me people are looking for an easy solution here. Now, bef-, let me say one crucial thing here — this should in no way undermine the importance of gun control!
WICKENDEN : There! That’s what I was waiting for you to say.
GLADWELL: This is a, gun control can solve the much bigger problem of the kind of unpremeditated shootings done in the heat of passion or drunkenness or drug use that claim the lives of tens of thousands of Americans every year. That’s the reason to ban guns. School shootings are a wholly separate and more complex phenomenon. Let’s not muddy the waters by trying to extend an incredibly powerful and important social initiative to this specific, difficult issue.
Does Mr. Gladwell really believe that there are “tens of thousands” of “unpremeditated shootings” carried-out “in the heat of passion or drunkenness or drug use” per year in the US?
Even a simple Google search reveals that about two-thirds of all firearms-related fatalities are suicides — which would occur at their current rate even if guns disappeared. The majority of the rest are gang-related homicides which are also impervious to gun control initiatives.
It’s hard to believe that a man famous for using statistical data and reason to reach insightful conclusions would throw firearms factuality under the bus for political correctness. Or, indeed, job security. But there it is.