By Larry Keane
Gun control groups want to study gun owners like some sort of caged laboratory animal. They want to poke and prod. University professors want to ask questions, theorize and understand the answers to their foundational question: why don’t gun owners just give up their guns?
The University of Connecticut is boasting of a collaborative effort with Johns Hopkins University Center for Gun Violence Research Center “to conduct a comprehensive survey on the harms and benefits of firearm polices for gun owners.”
That’s interesting phrasing, “the harms and benefits.”
Follow the money
One of the first questions that should be asked is who is funding the study? That, many times, can help answer the question of why. In this case, the research is made possible from a $228,000 grant from the National Collaborative on Gun Violence Research (NCGVR). It’s one of nine grants totaling more than a $1 million. Other grants include exploring tactical and strategic uses of a national ballistic database and policy making in the wake of mass shootings.
NCGVR is funded by Arnold Ventures, which was founded by billionaires John and Laura Arnold. This is the same Arnold Ventures NSSF warned of last year when they commissioned the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago to construct and convene a panel of medical professionals to organize a wishlist of dangerous and overreaching proposals. These demands are detailed in the Blueprint for a U.S. Firearms Data Infrastructure. One of their proposals was to implement a semi-annual random household survey of Americans’ firearm ownership.
They wanted to peer inside Americans’ gun safes. Questions they wanted answered in their door-to-door canvassing included how owners acquired their firearms, types, numbers owned and storage methods.
It’s also the same Laura and John Arnold Foundation that donated over $679,000 in 2020 to mostly Democratic candidates that embrace far-left radical gun control proposals, including U.S. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) and a $25,000 check to Wisconsin’s Democratic Party. Each of these has been ardent gun control supporters.
Laura Arnold even has her own column on how to shake down people for private donations to fund gun control studies – kind of like this one between UConn and Johns Hopkins University. That’s the same Johns Hopkins where antigun billionaire Michael Bloomberg has topped $3 billion in donations. It’s no wonder they dedicated an entire research center to his gun control efforts.
Bias in the Questions, Researchers
With that kind of understanding, it makes more sense when the latest study’s goal is to create a survey of the “harms and benefits” of gun ownership. The implication is that gun ownership is inherently harmful and the benefits couldn’t possibly outweigh the risks.
It’s equally as difficult to believe that this “survey” isn’t designed to draw answers to pre-determined conclusions. The principal investigator for the study is Johns Hopkins’ Mitchell Doucette, whose philosophy dissertation delved into “workplace violence” and the role of firearms. Doucette’s dissertation included chapters on state permit-to-purchase and right-to-carry laws. It even looked at parking lot laws for firearm storage. It didn’t include any warning signs of violent behavior of the criminals that committed these acts.
UConn is celebrating that professor Kerri Raissian is on board. Raissian “will serve as the expert on how to communicate about policy and the harms and benefits of policies in different environments.”
That might be because she’s well versed in communicating gun control policy ideas, no matter how far-fetched. She particularly likes to re-tweet Bloomberg’s hand-picked puppet for his gun control group Everytown for Gun Safety, Shannon Watts.
In July, Raissian retweeted Watt’s prod at U.S. Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) for deaths attributed to guns in his state. Watts, of course, didn’t take into account any of the “benefits” of the deaths, injuries, rapes, robberies or home invasions that were stopped because of lawful firearm ownership. Those incidents would include a 2017 incident where a Broken Arrow, Okla., man used an AR-15 to defend himself against home invaders, killing all three. It’s likely those deaths were included in Watts’s figures, but not the life saved.
Raissian’s Twitter is chock full of support for gun control, including retweets for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence and even retweeting an opinion column from The New York Times that blatantly mischaracterizes the Tiahrt Amendment that protects law enforcement investigations from being politicized. Gun control groups have long lobbied to repeal the amendment as a trophy and a means to falsely name-and-shame firearm retailers.
These groups say they want to study gun owners like they are some sort of aberration of nature. The notion that individuals would exercise their God-given rights to self-protection is an anathema to these academics. They need these biased studies to put gun owners into a category of “others” that must be studied and maybe even controlled.
That’s the crux. This is a privately-funded study that’s not even close to pretending to be objective in its goals. It’s also why the Dickey Amendment is so important. That’s the amendment that states, “none of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may be used to advocate or promote gun control,” when it comes to spending money on government-funded gun-related research.
The CDC can and has studied gun control. It just can’t do it to push policy ideas. Gun control relies on biased studies funded by biased antigun billionaires and researchers to prop up their agenda. For them, guns are always a harm, never a benefit.
Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.