Former NPR Honcho Reverses Stance On Guns

(published under creative commons)

Few people ever take on the pro-gun control position from a platform of careful reason. If they switch from pro-gun to anti-gun, it’s almost always based on emotion rather than a rational look at the facts.


When people do look at the facts, they tend to do what former CEO of National Public Radio Ken Stern did.

During an appearance on “Morning Joe” to promote the book, guest host Willie Guest asked Stern how the trip impacted his stance on the issues.

The former National Public Radio chief mentioned gun control, noting that crime has dropped over the past two decades while gun ownership has spiked.

“The most extraordinary trend in modern American criminal history,” Stern explained. “At the same time, the number of guns have gone up.”

“Those two things aren’t correlated, but it’s clear we know how to drive down gun murders without gun control, and the question is why are we talking about gun control when there’s other things that we’ve been doing for 25 years that actually have reduced murders in this country by an extraordinary amount,” he continued.

Stern says he’s fine with a few aspects of gun control but says he doesn’t think they’ll have a significant impact on crime, and for a reason. It doesn’t.

What he says about crime rates over the last 25 years or so is right. Crime has been trending down since at least the early 1990’s while the number of guns on the street have skyrocketed. If, as gun control advocates suggest, more guns means more crime, then the inverse should be true. It’s not.

By noting this, Stern is laying out one of the most rational cases for gun rights possible, that gun control doesn’t work and we should instead focus on strategies that will. It doesn’t matter if you personally like guns or not, if guns are not the problem–and clearly, they’re not–then attention should be focused on looking at other ways to combat crime, particularly violent crime.


Let’s face it, were there no violent crime out there, many of the  3 million people who carry every day would probably not worry about it. After all, carrying a gun is a pain, but it’s one we endure because we want to keep ourselves and our families safe. If there were no need for that, many wouldn’t fool with it.

But there is violent crime, and so we carry, and we carry in a world that actually is becoming less violent as more guns are out on the street.

I disagree with Sten, however. I think the two are correlated. I think there’s a strong correlation between increased gun ownership by private citizens and the reduction in violent crime. There’s something to the idea that criminals getting shot while trying to hurt the innocent dissuading their cohorts from attempting similar stupidity.

That said, it doesn’t really matter whether Stern is right or I am. What’s true is the underlying fact. Violent crime rates are dropping while gun ownership is increasing. If gun control was the answer, that wouldn’t be happening.

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