November/December 2019 issue
By Dan Gifford
Perhaps the most frustrating part of writing an article about Second Amendment "gun control" issues is that the subject is thoroughly plowed ground.
There is nothing new save the new faces mouthing the same well known discredited "truths."
You know them:
Those and others you know well are the "truths" of those who see Second Amendment rights defenders as underclass "deplorables" who "cling to their Bibles and guns" despite a sea of contrary fact.
That fact is, there ain't no new "truth" or legitimate study showing that expanded background checks or bans on certain firearms or any of the other popularly bloviated "truths" diminish gun violence. The word "legitimate" is key because, while there have been and are academic studies concluding the opposite, all I am aware of have been discredited as academic frauds in which the researchers rigged their efforts to come to a pre conceived conclusion in a practice known as "Lysenkoism."
It's rampant among academics, according to a recent Stanford University study titled "Peer-Review Fraud: Hacking the Scientific Publication Process."
It found it's not uncommon for academics to lie about their data and engage in a conspiracy among their peers to verify results in order to get published. In that publish or perish world, published can translate into TV face time, celebrity, research grants and a chance to be a political player. But there's another reason.
Researchers are too often political players with considerable egos. So they engage in fraud not only because they are pressured to publish papers that get news attention, they are driven to prove theses that are in line with their own beliefs or those of their grant funders and to please the opinions of their cultural and political social group.
There is one factual truth in all this. It is that all the "gun control" remedies that are constitutional have been tried and they all lead to the conclusion of the Carter Administration's 1981 blue ribbon study on gun violence which the Carterites commissioned in expectation that it would prove guns cause crime and thereby provide a launch pad for restrictive legislation:
"It is commonly hypothesized that much criminal violence, especially homicide, occurs simply because firearms are readily at hand and, thus, that much homicide would not occur were firearms generally less available. There is no persuasive evidence that supports this view."
American media and its intellectuals have almost totally ignored the Carter researcher's facts in favor of their own "truths" even though their biases get undercut. For instance, a joint study conducted by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (where the famous Johnson Administartion "results oriented" 1968 study was done) and the University of California at Davis Violence Prevention Research Program found that California's much-touted mandatory background checks had no impact on gun deaths.
Said background check law was the most comprehensive in the United States.
More than a million gun buyers were affected in the first year alone.
Though costly and cumbersome, politicians and police officials claimed the new law was worth all the bother because, in all probability, the law concentrated more power in their hands. To sell that law, then-Republican Gov. George Deukmejian spouted the same oft heard rhetorical "truth" that the statute would "keep more guns out of the hands of the people who shouldn't have them. "I think the new laws are going to help counter the violence," added LAPD spokesman William D. Booth.
But 25 years after Hopkins and UC Davis eggheads dug into the legislation and compared California's yearly gun deaths with 32 control states that did not have such laws, they found "no change in the rates of death from firearms.
So whatta ya do when the facts don't support the researcher's "truth?" AMA President Barbara McAneny knows. Ya claim your truth is true even though the facts show it isn't.
So in a statement to the Washington Post she called for even more restrictive laws: "We see this as an epidemic and public health crisis and we think intervening as early as possible is smarter than just building more intensive care units for people who are either killed or damaged and badly hurt by the violence." The Post said Hopkins-UC Davis study was evidence that what "the AMA is calling for may be needed." Yes, that means still more laws are needed.
Why such intellectual dishonesty when an academic or politicians or activist's "truth" is trumped by fact -- particularly on such a politically and socially charged matter? Phrased differently, when the lead researcher of that august Carter Administration report said "a compelling case for gun control cannot be made" -- which he did, why are we still talking about more of it? And especially why are we talking about more of it in the same tired tropes about righteous opposition to an all powerful, evil "gun lobby" when that characterization has been disproven often enough to qualify as a tres tired cliché?
In the case of firearms, they are an instrument designed to kill. Never mind that killing can be justified in many cases, the mere revulsion to some anti Second activists of that fact together with their idealism shields them from admitting their "truth" is not true.
Dan Gifford is a national Emmy-winning,
Oscar-nominated film producer and former
reporter for CNN, The MacNeil Lehrer
News Hour and ABC News.