Another week, another mass shooting. As I’ve blogged recently, I am a hunter and gun owner. I am not someone who believes the 2nd amendment should be repealed. But I am someone interested in having a studied and generous national conversation about constitutional gun control measures that may decrease the number of gun-related deaths in this country. I have also blogged on the issue of mental health and gun violence, sharing research that reveals past acts of violence to be far better predictors of future gun violence than is mental illness per se.
The ultimate purpose of those prior blog posts was to call for federally-funded research on how best to minimize gun violence. In the absence of federally-funded research, the best we can do is rely on university and private-source research. In the hope of furthering the conversation, here are some helpful studies for people of good will to consider:
Against the assertion that mass shootings have always been part of our societal life and are merely being more heavily reported today, there is this article on a 2014 FBI study, which demonstrates how such shootings have increased appreciably. The article begs the question whether the types of weapons utilized in mass shootings should be considered, in Justice Scalia’s words, “unusual and dangerous,” and therefore restricted (which is constitutionally allowable).
Next are two studies that debunk a shibboleth commonly repeated by those opposed to all gun control, namely, that areas with the most stringent gun control laws have higher incidents of gun violence. While this may be true in Chicago–related primarily to drug-related gang violence–it is not true overall. The Huff Post piece looks specifically at gun homicide. The Atlantic article article looks at gun deaths more generally, but it also hones in on the correlations between specific gun control measures and lower rates of gun violence, which is helpful (and also speaks to the question of whether restricting assault weapons might help reduce gun violence). Richard Florida is a well-known urban researcher. I’ve read his stuff over the years.
Then is a Stanford University study that concludes “right to carry” laws have contributed to an increase in the incidence of aggravated assault, gun homicide, and other violent crimes.
Finally, here is a Harvard study that compares the availability of guns with homicide rates. While the researchers stop short of claiming a causal connection, they do control for the other primary contributory factors (the “usual suspects”), including poverty, unemployment, urbanization, and alcohol consumption. The results make clear that the greater the pervasiveness of guns, the greater the homicide rate across all age categories. The research was repeated to look at the years 2001-2003, with the same results.
Rather than merely repeating the mantra “gun control doesn’t work,” we ought, as a society, to consider the question on its merits through the best research possible. Based upon that research, we should consider who ought not have access to guns, how best to prevent guns from falling into their hands, and what categories of guns are in every instance “dangerous and unusual” and therefore should be restricted from everyone. And then we should ask ourselves the cost-benefit question: How many mass shootings are we going to accept before we pursue effective, constitutional firearm regulation?