The Hard, Simple Truth About Gun Control
Guns in Law, Amherst College Series, University of Massachusetts Press (Forthcoming)
37 Pages Posted: 12 Nov 2017 Last revised: 9 May 2018
Date Written: November 7, 2017
Gun control can be extremely effective at significantly reducing homicides, suicides, and gun-related robberies, assaults, and injuries. There is substantial evidence supporting that conclusion. However, the simple, hard truth is that only one form of gun control has been shown to be effective – namely, anything that significantly reduces the number of handguns in general circulation. The implications of that argument are enormous. In 2008, the United States Supreme Court held that individuals have a constitutional right to have handguns in their homes, and therefore a system of regulation designed to reduce the number of handguns in American homes would be unconstitutional. Gun control advocates faced political obstacles before that ruling. Rather than acknowledge the simple, hard truth, they opted instead to advocate so-called common sense measures, even though there is little evidence suggesting modest measures are likely to be effective. That strategy led to Pyrrhic victories. The strategy was counterproductive for public opinion over the long run, and it may well have misled Supreme Court justices into believing that their Second Amendment decision had no adverse public health consequences. It is, therefore, important to be clear about the choice before us. The choice is not whether America will have effective gun control today. It can’t. The choice is whether America will have effective gun control in the future. While public opinion, politics, and constitutional law currently bar the way, all three are malleable. The public, politicians, and judges can all be educated. That must begin, however, with telling the simple, hard truth about gun control.
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