October 3, 2017

WashPost Op-Ed: Gun-Control Ideas ‘Crumbled’ When Researched

As seen in at least ten separate NewsBusters posts in the past two days, the left has wasted no time politicizing the mass murder at the at Route 91 country music festival in Las Vegas to push hard for “gun control” — which ultimately, as anyone who has noticed what governors in Connecticut and New York have done in the past several years knows, involves total gun confiscation. Thus, it is quite noteworthy that the Washington Post, of all places, published a Tuesday afternoon column by Leah Libresco, who asserts, based on months of time she and others spent researching the subject when at FiveThirtyEight.com, that “the case for the (gun-related) policies I’d lobbied for crumbled when I examined the evidence.”

Libresco is a 2012 convert from atheism to Catholicism whose book, Arriving at Amen, is an intellectual inspiration.

Her discussion of FiveThirtyEight’s gun research demonstrate similar rigor, including a willingness to accept findings that went against her preconceived beliefs (HT Instapundit):

I used to think gun control was the answer. My research told me otherwise.

Before I started researching gun deaths, gun-control policy used to frustrate me. I wished the National Rifle Association would stop blocking common-sense gun-control reforms such as banning assault weapons, restricting silencers, shrinking magazine sizes and all the other measures that could make guns less deadly.

Then, my colleagues and I at FiveThirtyEight spent three months analyzing all 33,000 lives ended by guns each year in the United States, and I wound up frustrated in a whole new way. We looked at what interventions might have saved those people, and the case for the policies I’d lobbied for crumbled when I examined the evidence. The best ideas left standing were narrowly tailored interventions to protect subtypes of potential victims, not broad attempts to limit the lethality of guns.

I researched the strictly tightened gun laws in Britain and Australia and concluded that they didn’t prove much about what America’s policy should be. Neither nation experienced drops in mass shootings or other gun related-crime that could be attributed to their buybacks and bans.

… “assault weapon” … (is) an invented classification that includes any semi-automatic that has two or more features, such as a bayonet mount, a rocket-propelled grenade-launcher mount, a folding stock or a pistol grip. But guns are modular, and any hobbyist can easily add these features at home, just as if they were snapping together Legos.

As for silencers — they deserve that name only in movies, where they reduce gunfire to a soft puick puick. In real life, silencers limit hearing damage for shooters but don’t make gunfire dangerously quiet. …

Two-thirds of gun deaths in the United States every year are suicides. Almost no proposed restriction would make it meaningfully harder for people with guns on hand to use them.

However, the next-largest set of gun deaths — 1 in 5 — were young men aged 15 to 34, killed in homicides. These men were most likely to die at the hands of other young men, often related to gang loyalties or other street violence. And the last notable group of similar deaths was the 1,700 women murdered per year, usually as the result of domestic violence. Far more people were killed in these ways than in mass-shooting incidents, but few of the popularly floated policies were tailored to serve them.

Her conclusion certainly isn’t popular with the gun-grabbers:

We save lives by focusing on a range of tactics to protect the different kinds of potential victims and reforming potential killers, not from sweeping bans focused on the guns themselves.

Her sharp disagreements with others in columns or editorials published at the Post can be seen in the links following her column, except the last, which states the fundamental, immutable truth:

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.


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