We’re all familiar with the cliché “a broken clock is right twice a day.”
In the case of the New York Times twice a year may be more accurate, but a brief glimmer of sanity has appeared early this year.
Liberal New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof penned a column titled “Some Inconvenient Gun Facts for Liberals” which has some of his fellow liberals’ heads exploding:
FOR those of us who argue in favor of gun safety laws, there are a few inconvenient facts.
We liberals are sometimes glib about equating guns and danger. In fact, it’s complicated: The number of guns in America has increased by more than 50 percent since 1993, and in that same period the gun homicide rate in the United States has dropped by half.
Then there are the policies that liberals fought for, starting with the assault weapons ban. A 113-page study found no clear indication that it reduced shooting deaths for the 10 years it was in effect. That’s because the ban was poorly drafted, and because even before the ban, assault weapons accounted for only 2 percent of guns used in crimes.
Move on to open-carry and conceal-carry laws: With some 13 million Americans now licensed to pack a concealed gun, many liberals expected gun battles to be erupting all around us. In fact, the most rigorous analysis suggests that all these gun permits caused neither a drop in crime (as conservatives had predicted) nor a spike in killings (as liberals had expected). Liberals were closer to the truth, for the increase in carrying loaded guns does appear to have led to more aggravated assaults with guns, but the fears were overblown.
Kristof does himself want to reduce gun violence (who doesn’t) but takes a much more moderate approach than most liberals – favoring reducing gun access to high risk individuals.
He also realizes that gun violence is just a symptom of a greater problem, and guns aren’t the root cause. He concludes:
Some public health approaches to reducing gun violence have nothing to do with guns. Researchers find that a nonprofit called Cure Violence, which works with gangs, curbs gun deaths. An initiative called Fast Track supports high-risk children and reduces delinquency and adult crime.
In short, let’s get smarter. Let’s make America’s gun battles less ideological and more driven by evidence of what works. If the left can drop the sanctimony, and the right can drop the obstructionism, if instead of wrestling with each other we can grapple with the evidence, we can save thousands of lives a year.
Those in favor of gun rights have long dominated the gun control debate. When the New York Times is finally throwing in the towel, maybe it’s time to officially declare victory.
[Note: This post was written by The Analytical Economist]