How did I miss this?!?

Some of you may be familiar with The Trace. This is Michael Bloomberg’s purpose-built, anti-gun “news” outlet. It provides all of the anti-gun news that’s fit to print. It does deserve some props, however. Unlike Bloomy’s other anti-gun propaganda operations, this one is up front with being an anti-gun propaganda operation. It’s also a very nicely composed and designed website. Unless I miss my guess, it’s built around WordPress. (The same software this site uses.) As anti-gun site go, theirs is a pretty good site. But (Yes, that big but was on its way!), they may have to get a better handle on what makes its way onto the site.

Take this story from last July, for example, about how ineffective gun buyback programs are.

How did I miss this?

The author, Kate Masters, presents data that most of us already knew: That guns collected in these programs by the police are often non-functional pieces of dren and that they are the guns least likely to be used in crimes. Furthermore, the police are often duped into paying top dollar for junk guns and the funds they pay are then used to buy better guns.

There’s no evidence that gun buybacks actually curb gun violence. Though the events have become ubiquitous in the U.S. since the ’90s, they’re coupled with a number of academic studies that pointedly demonstrate the ways that buybacks fail to reduce crime. “[Studies show that] the guns you get back are nonfunctioning, that we’re paying money and we’re not getting real benefits,” Ralph Fascitelli, the president of Washington CeaseFire, a Seattle-based gun safety organization, tells The Trace. “They’re just feel-good things that don’t do much real good.”

The feel-good nature of gun buybacks often spurs police departments to organize them in the wake of major killing sprees, such as a 2014 buyback organized by L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti after a gunman killed six people near the University of California’s Santa Barbara campus. This June alone, local officials from Florida, Connecticut, California, Arkansas, and Massachusetts launched city- or county-wide buybacks in response to violent shootings or rising crime rates. But experts claim it’s unlikely that these officials truly believe the events help reduce crime.

The “no questions asked” policy shared by most buybacks can also make them vulnerable to what [Alex Tabarrok, professor of economics at George Mason University] calls “gun entrepreneurs,” generally private sellers who use the events to profit off their local government. He cited a particularly notorious 2008 buyback in Oakland, California, where police bought handguns and assault rifles for $250 each. The event attracted local gun dealers, who bought cheap guns out-of-state and sold them back to the government for a profit

One suspects that Ms. Masters is no longer in the employ of Michael Bloomberg after posting something like this!

But this does lead us to a larger truth about the anti-gun movement: It’s entirely based on “feel-good” politics and not hard data. People like Michael Bloomberg are driven by emotion. Guns are icky. Gun owners are icky. Guns should be banned because they’re icky. Gun owners should be locked up because they’re icky. They ignore the reality of firearms: That they’re far more likely to be used to prevent violent crimes than to perpetrate them. Most guns are never fired in anger and most gun owners never hear a shot that’s been fired in anger. Those guns and their owners lead boring, uneventful existences.

Do bad things happen with guns? Of course they do. Bad things happen with hammers too, but you don’t see millions being spent to shut down the home improvement industry and “big hardware”. There isn’t a consumer product anywhere that’s completely risk free. But with every one of them, we apply risk/benefit analysis. People like Bloomberg pointedly refuse to do so with firearms. But then again, Bloomy’s not known to be a particularly rational individual.

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