“We need to understand gun violence,” said the gun control industry talking head. “But the gun lobby has blocked all research.”
To paraphrase Emo Philips, some days it just doesn’t pay for a propagandist to chew through their leather restraints.
The Data Exists … everywhere
Gun violence is one of the most ridiculously over-studied topics in American criminology. The Bureau of Justice Statistics has over 800 publications that mention “firearm violence” and over 500 data collections and surveys listed (albeit, some are updates of older ones). Google Scholar lists over 500 peer reviewed criminology studies with “firearm violence” in the title published in the last decade. When the National Academy of Sciences studied gun control and gun violence, they reviewed 253 journal articles, read 99 books, ingested 43 government publications, and even did some of their own original research. And this doesn’t even touch compilations and solo tomes published by criminologists, economists and other people with deep research skills.
The data is deep, compelling, and points to gun control lacking efficacy in controlling violent crime. This is a problem for the gun control industry. It is akin to Maier’s Law of Research which claims that “If the facts do not conform to the theory, the facts must be disposed of.” In this case, if the research doesn’t support gun control, then you must claim there is no research.
Why would the gun control industry make such odd assertions given that anyone with a web browser could call their bluff? Because they want more research funded by taxpayers, and thus they want research to be politicized (funny, I thought politicizing gun violence research was the job of the Johns Hopkins [Michael] Bloomberg School of Public Health).
There is a history here, and it is important to understanding why some politicians champion the cause of taxpayer funded gun violence “research”.
The Politicizing of Gun Violence Research
The last president who pushed gun control was Bill Clinton. In the face of a shift in public sentiment on guns, his administration oversaw some rather quirky stunts. One was when the Centers for Disease Control recruited doctors (who are not trained in criminology, statistics, or even research methodology) to create fiction posing as science (for a sadly comical review, see this piece). The nub of the story is that the “research” the U.S. Government produced was horrid and seemingly designed to support gun control initiatives.
It was so because a head of the CDC said his goal was to create a public perception of firearms as “dirty, deadly—and banned.”
Weigh the realities. We have an over-studied topic that reaches clear conclusions about firearm violence and gun control. We now have a group of politicos who advocate reviving reprehensible propaganda practices to mislead voters to false conclusions. The only way this can be done is to claim universal ignorance in an age of enlightenment.
Factor this into your election year thinking (especially folks in California, where phony research is an issue in Sacramento). Any candidate calling to revive federal or state studies on gun violence either is ignorant of the research that exists, or has an agenda unfavorable to facts.