#Guncontrol: The fact-free debate

**Posted by Phineas

Samuel Johnson once famously said that “Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.” Thomas Sowell might broaden that to “appeals to emotion are the last refuge of someone losing on the facts,” because that’s surely the case with gun-control advocates:

Amid all the heated, emotional advocacy of gun control, have you ever heard even one person present convincing hard evidence that tighter gun-control laws have in fact reduced murders?

Think about all the states and communities within states, as well as foreign countries, that either have tight gun-control laws or loose or nonexistent ones. With so many variations and so many sources of evidence available, surely there would be some compelling evidence somewhere if tighter gun-control laws actually reduced the murder rate. And if tighter gun-control laws don’t actually reduce the murder rate, then why are we being stampeded toward such laws after every shooting that gets media attention? Have the media outlets that you follow ever even mentioned that some studies have produced evidence that murder rates tend to be higher in places with tight gun-control laws?

The dirty little secret is that gun-control laws do not actually control guns. They disarm law-abiding citizens, making them more vulnerable to criminals, who remain armed in disregard of such laws. In England, armed crimes skyrocketed as legal gun ownership almost vanished under increasingly severe gun-control laws in the late 20th century. (See the book Guns and Violence by Joyce Lee Malcolm.) But gun control has become one of those fact-free crusades, based on assumptions, emotions, and rhetoric.

In a rational debate, the relevant committees of Congress would hold genuine hearings, take testimony, examine the research that’s already been done (1), and perhaps commission some social scientists to do a new study of the correlations between gun ownership and gun violence. It’s what we should expect from our legislators, whose duties include keeping bad laws from being passed as it does passing good laws.  And when it’s something as fundamental as further restrictions on our rights to bear arms and against unreasonable search, that duty grows more compelling.

Instead what we get are emotional appeals to “do something now,” regardless of whether it deals with the real causes of gun violence. Politicians trot out vapid arguments arguing that whatever it is they’re advocating is worth it, “if it saves just one life.” They play on fear and guilt — the fear that more children will be killed, if we don’t “do something now,” and the guilt they tell us we should feel, because we didn’t “do something” when we had the chance. Victims and their loved ones are hauled before the cameras to make emotional appeals to “do something, now,” playing a moral authority card that declares you heartless if you disagree.

And all of that is smoke and mirrors, sound and fury, meant to cover up the absence of fact in almost any of the gun-grabbers’ arguments. As John Adams once said:

Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.

And it’s on those facts and evidence we must rely, while marrying them to the same rallying cries of “fairness,” “justice,” and “safety” that the anti-Second Amendment crowd uses. We must then turn them on the gun-grabbers and demand they explain, for example, what justice there is in denying a Black woman the right to defend herself in Chicago.

In that way, we can beat back this latest assault on our liberties.

RELATED: Following up on my post on the Manchin-Toomey amendment from yesterday, it looks like Harry Reid is falling short of the votes to bring even this watered down measure to a vote. Good. Very good. (h/t ST)

(1) See also “More Guns, Less Crime, by John Lott.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

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