While some on the left were utterly contemptible in their efforts to blame the Tuscon shootings on anything or anyone other than the nut who pulled the trigger, it is perfectly legitimate for them to claim that the tragedy is a reason to impose gun control and erode constitutional rights.
But that doesn’t mean they’re right. I’ve commented on gun control issues many times, including here, here, here, and here, but let’s see what some real experts have to say. John Lott deals with the “concealed carry” issue for FoxNews.com, and here are some key excerpts.
Of all the multiple victim shootings around the country in public schools, the Appalachian Law School, on city streets, churches, or in malls that have been stopped law-abiding citizens with concealed handguns, none, not a single one has resulted in innocent bystanders being shot. Indeed, rarely do the citizens with the concealed handguns actually pull the trigger, simply brandishing the gun stops the attack. Permit holders do not endanger others. Take Arizona, since that is where all the focus is. As of December 1, 2007, there were 99,370 active permits. During 2007, 33 permits were revoked for any reason — a 0.03% rate — cases that did not involve using the gun to harm others. …most of the academic research, including recent research on right-to-carry research by economists and criminologists do indeed show that the laws reduce violent crime. Among peer reviewed studies in academic journals, 16 studies examining national data find that right-to-carry laws reduced violent crime, 10 claimed that they found no discernible effect, and zero studies found a bad effect from the law. Five other non-refereed studies were more divided, with three finding drops in crime, one claiming to find no effect, and two saying that there were either no effect or possibly small increases in crime. But even “no discernible effect” is usually not the same as “debunking” or “refuting” a hypothesis. Rather it often means that the evidence is not sufficient to draw a conclusion. Both Kristof and Donohue link to a paper by Ayres and Donohue that supposedly “debunks” my research. That is hardly true. Even if we were to fully accept the wording of the research paper, which is questionable, they claim to have found a small temporary initial rise in crime, followed by a long sustained drop. Yet, even the initial increase is a result of a mistake in how they set up their regressions and even their own more precise estimates of the yearly changes in crime never show that increase.
And Robert Verbruggen, writing for NationalReview.com, undertakes the daunting task of trying to educate anti-gun zealots (i.e., journalists) about basic firearms knowledge. He makes a few suggestions that, if followed, would at least protect them from looking completely ignorant.
If a left-of-center reader turned to his favorite pundits this week to find out what to think about the Tucson massacre and gun laws, he’d have read nothing but clichés and half-truths. There are at least two reasons for this. First is that most of these columnists have no firsthand knowledge of guns or gun culture. Second is that they haven’t bothered to read any of the countless academic studies of gun control that have come out since John Lott published More Guns, Less Crime in 1998. …Here are some quick and easy tips for anti-gun columnists — if you follow them, you’ll still be wrong, but at least you won’t sound so ridiculous. 1. Don’t assume criminals follow laws. …2. If you’re going to write that a certain kind of gun is particularly dangerous, consult someone who knows something about guns first. …3. Don’t prattle on about “hunting” or “sport” — and more generally, don’t forget about self-defense.