Gun Researchers Need Reality Check

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The phrase “gun research” has long been assumed to actually translate as “anti-gun research” by many on the gun rights side of the Second Amendment debate. The reason for that is how often it really looks like the books have been cooked to favor gun control.

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A while back, Cam wrote about an interview with a columnist who illustrated why so much gun control research is worthless. There’s a lot of bias being thrown around in these “studies” and it’s funny how literally none of them seem to show any benefit to the private ownership of firearms.

Then we had the CDC’s shenanigans where they actually removed data at the request of gun control groups.

So yeah, we have a reason to be skeptical.

Yet an op-ed in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution by gun researchers would tell us a different story.

The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed a bill that would cut off federal funding for critical research on firearm injuries at a time when we need it more than ever. Our old ways of controlling gun violence are not working any more.

We can learn perhaps from another problem. Last summer, wildfires in Canada burned triple the amount of land consumed by such fires in the past 50 years combined. For millennia, winter temperatures and snow have extinguished naturally ignited forest fires in northern latitudes, but climate change has made forests hotter, drier and more flammable. Human activity has irreversibly altered the conditions for controlling wildfires and we need to find new approaches for a hotter world.

There is a sobering lesson here that applies to our out-of-control gun violence problem in America. When one of us started working on this problem 40 years ago, there were approximately 100 million guns in civilian hands. In 2000, we had an estimated 259 million guns in civilian hands; by 2022, we had an estimated 410 million.

There are now so many guns on our streets, and in our homes – and so many people filled with anger or despair who can access and use them against others or themselves — that the resulting rate of firearm injury and death seems to be accelerating to a tipping point of no return.

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Uh…wait just a second here.

40 years ago would put at least one of the authors beginning gun research in 1993. That was the height of gang shootings and a high point of homicides in the United States.

During those 40 years, the number of firearms in circulation continued to increase year after year. Concealed carry became popular throughout the nation. Gun rights groups started winning more and more at the state level in many places.

And yet, during that time, homicides plunged until 2020 and 2021. There were no repeals of massive gun control laws during that time, except in a couple of states. If guns are the problem, why is it that the number of guns in private hands skyrocketed even as the homicide rate dropped?

One of these writers was working in the field when that happened, but there’s no mention of that.

Oh, and and those homicide rates started dropping last year and are continuing to drop, all without any significant restrictions on guns.

The authors continue:

We need science to develop and evaluate new approaches to gun violence prevention. Having gun ownership data at the state level would help us conduct such studies. Without localized data, researchers can’t accurately assess the impact gun ownership has on firearm mortality.

We must redouble efforts to find out which approaches to prevention really work and which ways do not. The House vote to stop funding firearm injury prevention research will keep us from finding the new tools we so desperately need.

Now it is more important than ever that we use science to find new, effective approaches to fighting both wildfires and gun violence. For too long, some politicians’ persistent denial that humans play any role in climate change has obstructed a path to science-based solutions. And just like climate change is not the sole cause of worsening wildfires, the proliferation of firearms is not the only cause of increasing rates of firearm deaths.

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Pro-tip, guys. Pushing climate change as an example to bolster your argument for gun research isn’t exactly a winning strategy.

Yet, I’ll grant that it’s appropriate.

After all, climate change models have yet to bear out as being remotely accurate either.

Regardless, the issue with gun research isn’t that there’s no validity to it, it’s that there’s literally zero reason to trust anyone with taxpayer dollars to conduct “research” that is so pathetically filled with bias.

The CDC has already made its own biases clear by removing defensive gun use statistics at the behest of anti-gun groups. Now we have these two yahoos ignoring history–history at least one of them should have been aware of because he was working in the field as it happened–saying we really need to fund biased research because reasons.

No. No we don’t.

I’m all for learning how we can stop violent crime. I’ve advocated repeatedly for research into how we can stop it.

The problem is that these two make it clear that the only potential solution they’re open to is gun control, which means it’s not about the search for knowledge and understanding. It’s anti-gun research meant to bolster a political argument.

And hey, it’s a free country. If they want to do it, then go for it.

Where I have a problem is when your argument is that my tax dollars should go to you so you can infringe upon my rights using biased, worthless “research” you call gun research by is just political advocacy.

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