The Tampa Bay Times Editorial Board made a case this week for “bipartisan” gun control in the Sunshine State.
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“So here’s something you might not have thought possible: In Florida, at least, Republicans and Democrats actually agree on a number of gun control measures that could significantly reduce the appalling death toll in our streets, schools and homes,” the Board wrote in a post on Wednesday.
“In a statewide survey done last month, large majorities in both parties told researchers they support universal background checks and a mandatory waiting period for anyone trying to purchase a weapon,” the Board continued. They said a person convicted of domestic abuse should be prohibited from buying a firearm. And anyone under the age of 21, they said, should not be able to buy a gun classified as an ‘assault weapon.’”
While it may indeed be true that there is majority support for measures like universal background checks and waiting periods for gun purchases, what the Board did not substantiate to any degree of satisfaction is the claim that these policies would “significantly reduce the appalling death toll.”
The Board didn’t bother to prove that claim because there is no reliable evidence that gun control works. None.
Back in March, Reason.com conducted an in-depth examination of the wide body of social science literature on the efficacy of gun control.
Here’s what the publication had to say, “We took a look at the significance of the 123 rigorous empirical studies and what they actually say about the efficacy of gun control laws. The answer: nothing.”
“The 123 studies that met RAND’s criteria may have been the best of the 27,900 that were analyzed, but they still had serious statistical defects, such as a lack of controls, too many parameters or hypotheses for the data, undisclosed data, erroneous data, misspecified models, and other problems,” Reason.com added.
At the end of the day, no decent human being wants gay revelers to be murdered at a nightclub or high school students to be slaughtered during class.
Violence is, indeed, a problem in our society.
But if we are going to do something about it, we need to be intellectually honest about the proposed “solutions.” Because support for feel-good policies that have zero effect on criminals won’t save lives. It makes no difference if support for such policies is near universal or bipartisan.
Additionally, there is a cost to passing measures that only affect the law-abiding.
As Reason.com concluded, “Not only is the social science literature on gun control broadly useless, but it provides endless fodder for advocates who say that ‘studies prove’ that a particular favored policy would have beneficial outcomes. This matters because gun laws, even if they don’t accomplish their goals, have large costs. They can turn otherwise law-abiding citizens into criminals, they increase prosecutorial power and incarceration, and they exacerbate the racial and socioeconomic inequities in the criminal justice system.”