Thursday, July 17, 2008
John Lott on Guns
John Lott is the author of "Freedomnomics" and a senior research scientist at the University of Maryland. He formerly was at the University of Chicago, where he published a steller study on firearms a few years back -- one that sent the gun banners into a hissy fit on steroids.
Professor Lott is entering the fray again, because the rabid gun banners have hoisted a new flag to fly in their tireless efforts to render us all defenseless. Ban guns and stop suicides! You have to hand it to them. They're clever at coming up with ways to play the public like a violin.
Anyway, here's what Professor Lott had to say about this . . .
There are so many different ways for people to kill themselves: people can jump off buildings or crash their car into a telephone pole or head-on into another car.
In a high suicide rate country such as Japan, many people jump in front of subway trains.
Guns are one of the most lethal and effective methods of committing suicide, but how lethal the different methods are has a lot to do with whether someone wants to successfully commit suicide.
For example, the vast majority of attempted suicides by women are apparently not meant to be successful (just calls for help). They usually choose methods, such as taking only a relatively few sleeping pills, that are destined to fail.
But that hardly means that if you take someone who was intent on killing themselves and have them use sleeping pills, that they will also fail.
There is a great irony about this whole debate.
Generally, liberals, both on and off the Supreme Court, are the ones concerned about guns being used to commit suicide.
Yet, those same liberals opposed restrictions on drugs used in physician-assisted suicides.
The court forbade the U.S. Attorney General from claiming that suicide is not a “legitimate medical purpose.”
How is it OK for the justices to prevent regulations of drugs that are used to commit suicides, but support the banning of guns used for the same purpose?
If anything, the court can probably more effectively end physician-assisted suicides by banning drugs than they could end suicides by banning guns. Could the answer simply be that liberals dislike guns, not drugs?
More conservative justices, who believe that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual's right to own guns, don’t face the same logical conflict.
Even if they would like to regulate suicide with guns and even if they believed that gun ownership affected the total level of suicides, the Second Amendment protects the individual’s right to own guns.
There is no similar protection for drugs.
The debate about protecting people from themselves is a familiar one.
But even if those seeking to ban guns are right that more guns mean more suicides, who is best positioned to weigh the risks and benefits from letting people protect themselves?
If people are unable to make these decisions for themselves, how can people figure out which politicians should make these decisions for them?
One thing I might say to Professor Lott is this. Don't expect being caught in logical contradictions to deter these people. Orwellian doublespeak and Lewis Carrollian non sequiturs/redefinitions are innate traits of the liberal gun ban crowd (not to mention their other hobby horses). Their motto: "Words mean what we want them to mean. No more, no less."