Data distortion, 2nd ammendment style

In a description that has eerie parallels to the climate change debate, Robert VerBruggen takes on the More Handguns, Less Crime — or More? debate. He concludes:

The more-guns-less-crime theory is more than plausible, and it retains the support of many academics. In the end, however, it has become a distraction. In addition to being virtually impossible to prove in a meaningful way, it has placed the burden of proof where it does not belong.

Gun-rights supporters shouldn’t have to prove anything. They are on the side of freedom. Gun controllers, by contrast, want to restrict freedom, and thus must prove that their policies provide benefits that are worth that freedom. Whether the topic is RTC, handgun bans, buyback programs, assault-weapon restrictions, or registries, there is simply no evidence whatsoever indicating that to be the case. That’s one thing that Lott and the debate he inspired have proven — whatever the merits of the claim that gun control actually increases crime.

There are the stakes – individual freedoms – and then there is the nature of the debate – “In addition to being virtually impossible to prove in a meaningful way, it has placed the burden of proof where it does not belong.“. In other words, the data are cloudy and difficult to turn into meaningful information, the debate is shoved into distractions, and the reasons involve desires for control over other people. Gun control, health, waste, energy, … so many modern debates have the same pattern.

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