Statistician Reconsiders Supporting Gun Control After Looking At Data

[Photo: Tami Chappell/ Reuters]
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Writing for The Washington Post, statistician and former-gun-control advocate Leah Libresco looked at the hard evidence that changed her stance on gun-control legislation. Over the course of three months, Libresco and her FiveThirtyEight colleagues analyzed the data on 33,000 gun-related deaths in the United States. “We looked at what interventions might have saved those people, and the case for the policies I’d lobbied for crumbled when I examined the evidence,” she wrote.

Ultimately, it seems the findings ended up changing her mind on gun-control usefulness—she still doesn’t agree with gun ownership. Libresco stated that while she may not believe in guns, “I can’t endorse policies whose only selling point is that gun owners hate them.”

As Libresco stated, some two-thirds of gun deaths in the US are suicides and “almost no proposed restriction would make it meaningfully harder for people with guns on hand to use them.” Further, she contends that older men, who make up the greatest percentage of gun suicides, need better access to care.

If suicide is such a substantial cause of gun death, it would seem suicide prevention would indeed be a better step toward reducing gun-related deaths rather than stripping citizens of their rights. Taking the gun away will not help anyone’s mental health. Libresco recommends measures targeted at protecting women from domestic violence and preventing young men from engaging in lethal feuds to help drive down gun deaths.

Libresco’s findings also revealed that heavy-gun-control-policy countries (e.g., England and Australia) didn’t seem to actually contribute to a reduction in gun-related death. Neither nation saw a drop in mass shootings and other gun-related crime due to their gun-control laws.

Overall, she stated that people-focused policies would prove more effective than targeting guns themselves. “We save lives by focusing on a range of tactics to protect the different kinds of potential victims and reforming potential killers—not from sweeping bans focused on the guns themselves,” she wrote.

Rather than the gun itself, people are responsible for what they do with it. Who knew?

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