Our political system is polarized on many issues, many of which, like education and healthcare, probably do not yield to a simplistic either or, statist or free-market solution. Gun violence, brought to our attention by another mass shooting, is also one of these contentious issues which elicit banal and simplistic solutions from left and right, either gun control or more guns and training for civilians.
But what does serious evaluation really reveal? Check out these important resources if you want to actually think about this issue instead of react and punish your usual whipping boys (Obama or the NRA).
- How to Think About Guns (2013 – Freakanomics Radio audio) – Economist Steve Levitt has studied gun legislation for decades, and comes up with some surprising statistics about what works and does not in reducing gun violence. Turns out, there are many factors, not just one.
- Guns Reduce Crime? (2008 – NPR’s Intelligence Squared Debate audio) – IQ2 debates are short, and involve really smart debaters on both sides of an issue. Video Link.
- Gun Violence and Public Health (2015 – Commonwealth Club audio) – Another panel of distinguished guests disagreeing intelligently.
- A New Way to Tackle Gun Deaths (2015 New York Times) – Examines a very interesting idea – if we can’t get rid of useful but dangerous things like gas ovens, automobiles, and guns, why not strive to make them safer?
- Laws and policies that attempt to reduce firearm violence: Research review (2013 Harvard Kennedy School) – “While all interventions reduced gun crime, gun buy-back programs and stricter gun laws were found to be only marginally effective. Law enforcement efforts, however, were found to significantly reduce gun-related crimes…harsher sentences and restricted bail opportunities â€” showed the least promise. Mandatory firearms waiting periods and background checks were shown to have no statistical effects on gun crimes, while bans on specific weapons were moderately effective.”
- Fist Stick Knife Gun: A Personal History of Violence – this classic book on the subject is informative and thoughtful.
Now don’t talk until you’ve done some homework.