October 14, 2015
Dr. Michael J. O’Connell, New Hampshire, commented that it is rare that I agree 100% with any decision or remark President Obama makes. In the wake of the church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, he expressed the opinion, as he has many times before, that lack of gun control in this country is directly related to our number one ranking among industrialized nations in murders by firearms. While there may be a dearth of direct evidence that gun controls are responsible for containment of violent shootings, the fact is that all countries with lower rates of violent crime also have serious gun control measures in place. I would argue, as does Obama, that his opinion is indeed de facto.
Dr. O’Connell added that to “prove” the causal relationship, a prospective scientific approach would be needed, but absolutely impossible to conduct. Can you imagine doling our gun permits on a purely random basis, and mandating that all others turn in all their firearms? Then for the next ten years the pattern of crimes would be followed and data collected. Could never happen. Another insoluble problem would be how to account for crime committed with weapons stolen from permit owners, or imported from regions outside of the region under ‘study’. Clearly such a scientific experiment will not be conducted.
I would argue that such experimentation is not necessary. The reality is that the closest this country will ever come to ‘proof’ that gun control reduces violent crime is the ongoing worldwide, rather unscientific retrospective study, in which some countries ban firearms and some don’t. The former enjoy markedly lower rates of crime using firearms.
Dr. O’Connell stressed that he fully understands firearms are featured in sport. It’s a huge industry. And in an ideal world one should be free to enjoy these sports. However, isn’t there a point at which enjoyment by a few must be sacrificed to the interests of many?