Former Gun Control Advocate Learns it Doesn’t Work
Russ Chastain 10.11.17
Sometimes, all it takes to learn truth is a little research and an honest mind. If someone goes looking for factual data, it’s there to be found. That’s how Leah Libresco, author of a recent Washington Post article who was once a strong supporter of gun control, came to realize it’s not the answer. But her final conclusion may surprise you.
Before I started researching gun deaths, gun-control policy used to frustrate me. I wished the National Rifle Association would stop blocking common-sense gun-control reforms such as banning assault weapons, restricting silencers, shrinking magazine sizes and all the other measures that could make guns less deadly.
Then [after three months of research on firearm-caused deaths] in the United States, …I wound up frustrated in a whole new way… [T]he case for the policies I’d lobbied for crumbled when I examined the evidence.
After delving into the tight gun restrictions in Australia and Britain, she found no evidence that their overbearing laws had helped:
Neither nation experienced drops in mass shootings or other gun related-crime that could be attributed to their buybacks and bans.
She kept asking questions and learning.
- Should we ban ‘assault weapons?’ “[The term ‘assault weapon’ is] an invented classification that includes any semi-automatic that has two or more features, such as a bayonet mount, a rocket-propelled grenade-launcher mount, a folding stock or a pistol grip. But guns are modular, and any hobbyist can easily add these features at home…”
- Are silencers bad? “[T]hey deserve that name only in movies, where they reduce gunfire to a soft puick puick. In real life, silencers limit hearing damage for shooters but don’t make gunfire dangerously quiet.”
- Limit magazine capacity? “[A] practiced shooter could still change magazines so fast as to make the limit meaningless.”
At the end of her three-month research project, Libresco says she had begun to change her thinking: “I didn’t believe in many of the interventions I’d heard politicians tout.”
Has she come full circle? Not quite; she still calls herself “anti-gun” and she doesn’t want any firearms in her home, but she’s also learned not to jump on that broad-sweeping, emotionally-charged bandwagon called ‘gun control.’
The three groups of people most often killed by guns, she says, are 1) suicides, 2) males aged 15 to 34, most often killed by other males in gang-related and/or street violence, and 3) women murdered as a result of domestic violence. No “gun control” measures could help with this; so what possibly could?
…I found the most hope in more narrowly tailored interventions. Potential suicide victims, women menaced by their abusive partners, and kids swept up in street vendettas are all in danger from guns, but they each require different protections.
Older men, who make up the largest share of gun suicides, need better access to people who could care for them and get them help. Women endangered by specific men need to be prioritized by police, who can enforce restraining orders prohibiting these men from buying and owning guns. Younger men at risk of violence need to be identified before they take a life or lose theirs and to be connected to mentors who can help them de-escalate conflicts.
Libresco still believes in disarming citizens, but in a more targeted way (pun intended). Not only by removing the gun rights of anyone accused of domestic violence as mentioned above, but by also going after young male gang members and taking away their guns one at a time:
The young men at risk can be identified by an algorithm, but they have to be disarmed one by one, personally — not en masse as though they were all interchangeable.
At least Libresco has realized that the problem lies in criminals, and not the tools which they use:
A reduction in gun deaths is most likely to come from finding smaller chances for victories and expanding those solutions as much as possible. 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.
I’m hesitant to embrace her proposed measures, mainly because I find it difficult to trust the government to exert power well and fairly. But what do you think?