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NAT’L – GUN CONTROL/GUN RIGHTS – The Never-Ending War Over Gun Statistics

NATIONAL REVIEW.COM August 5, 2020 – The debate over gun control is in part a debate about fundamental rights, the things that a government should never deny to the citizens to whom it is supposed to be subordinate. Plenty of us conservatives would never surrender our right to keep and bear arms on that principle alone. But it’s a heck of a lot easier to win this debate if gun control doesn’t reduce crime or is even counterproductive — and as a result, much of the argument takes place in the realm of academic studies and arcane fights over how to analyze data. For decades upon decades, the two sides have fought each other vigorously, creating lots of statistics for their followers to cite but resolving very few issues in a definitive way. Those looking for a handbook of pro-gun stats should check out Gun Control Myths, the latest from John R. Lott Jr. The author is a veteran of the gun-research wars: A quarter of a century ago, Lott’s famous “more guns, less crime” study set off an enormous wave of research into concealed-carry laws — which, he found (and others naturally disputed), reduced crime by allowing the law-abiding to arm themselves against criminals. Now he heads the Crime Prevention Research Center, which has continued to monitor these laws and issues studies on other crime-related topics as well. The book weighs in at fewer than 200 pages, including extensive charts and footnotes, and is hardly a balanced review of the gun-control literature. I’m sure a gun-control supporter could write a book twice as long taking issue, in painstaking detail, with everything it says. But it nicely pokes holes in the common narrative in which gun control obviously works and guns are the only reason America has a high murder rate. Above all, it shows that there’s another side to just about any factoid you encounter in the mainstream media. There’s page after page of statistics here, but to start, let’s look at one very simple question: Do countries with more guns have more violence? (Forget about whether guns cause violence, in other words; we’re just asking whether the two go together.) This is the sort of thing any high-schooler could put together in an Excel spreadsheet — but there are lots of different ways to do it. Here, for example, is a chart you’ve likely seen on social media at some point. It tells a very tidy and alarming story: Places with more guns have more gun deaths, and the U.S. has boatloads of both.  [full article]

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