Saturday, December 22, 2012

An article from JAMA on researching gun violence

Silencing the Science on Gun Research.

This article documents how Congress and various state legislatures have blocked the possibility of doing real research on gun violence both by attacking funding at the national level and by attacking the sources of information at the state level.

Believe whatever you want in terms of gun policy. Whose good is served if we prevent research into the causes of gun violence? Injury prevention research has done a lot of good in other areas, but we cannot know if it will here unless we do the research. Is it so we can keep saying results are inconclusive, so we can only do odd national-level policy comparisons to other countries instead of real research?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Simple economics: don't spend taxpayer money on sports teams

Or: "Keep your big government hands out of my sports".
“There is never a good reason for taxpayer monies to subsidize for-profit entertainment businesses, especially extremely high-profit entertainment or sports businesses that are largely unaffordable to the vast majority of citizens,” said Leo Hindery Jr., managing partner of InterMedia Partners LP and founder of the YES Network, a regional sports cable television channel in New York controlled by the Yankees. “I don’t believe in state-sponsored finance of private enterprise at all.”
See more about Oakland's woes.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

More on guns.

A short note by David Frum, a Canadian RINO, on the best ways to prevent mass shootings.

A further discussion from Reason magazine in 1997 about something I mentioned earlier - why we do not have good gun violence statistics. The answer: Congress refuses to fund it, essentially. This thing they're talking about - still going on 15 years later. That's a long time not to have good research.

A discussion of whether armed civilians stop shooting rampages. Answer: not really. The cases where it has seem to be retired or off-duty police or former military. This doesn't take anything away from what they did, it's great. But the use of a firearm in a confrontation requires training and not just any Joe Blow on the street with a gun will have that.

And the sort of article you would expect from Ezra Klein.

Gun control, other thoughts

There is a lot of talk about gun control right now because of the recent tragedy (and several other recent highly-publicized shootings). While I am generally in favor of some kind of increased regulation of guns and restrictions on what guns are available, I want policies that actually work. I lack the specific knowledge of guns to have intelligent opinions on their distinctions [1] and I think most people are ignorant of what policies will have an effect and how much of an effect they will have. The US has a unique culture that cannot readily be compared to peer nations and there are significant political obstacles to doing good research on gun policy and doing epidemiological research on gun violence.

There are a couple of things I could say. The first is that the cat is, as it were, mostly out of the bag. There are a lot of guns in America and, unless we're trying to buy them back from people or forcibly taking them from people (fat chance), there will remain a lot of guns out there. The second is that, quite obviously, most gun control policy suggestions would not have stopped the tragedy which just occurred, nor would they be likely to stop some of the other mass shootings. If there are going to be positive effects, they will be on everyday gun violence - which accounts for far more deaths.

Again, the CDC has had its hands tied for the last 20 or so years when it comes to researching the causes of gun violence. The very first step should be funding more research. This shouldn't scare pro-gun advocates: it's simply research, and if taking guns away won't make us safer, we'll find that. If you really think that gun control is ineffective for curbing violence, then this would prove it.

One thing I do like and support is Cure Violence, formerly CeaseFire, which is an NGO that works within communities to treat violence like an epidemic. They've been rather effective, which surprises some. There is a documentary about them, The Interrupters, which I highly recommend.

[1]: I know the difference between a .22 and a .223, but I don't have any guns and will not ever purchase any guns (or, at least, will not have any guns in the house if I, for whatever reason, do purchase a gun someday).

Monday, December 17, 2012

Open Letter to The American Conservative

Or: Why I won't ever give money to your magazine.

I occasionally read articles from your magazine and appreciate its unique and valuable perspectives, even if I don't always agree with them. Epistemic closure, after all, is killing conservatism and, indeed, all political discourse. When I look at your web site, I am occasionally asked to subscribe or to donate or otherwise invest money and I always say "no". I feel I owe you an explanation, as there is only one small thing standing between your organization and some small amount of my money. I cannot and will not give any money to any organization that publishes articles by climate change denialists such as this one: I suppose some may find it ironic to have this reaction to that article in particular, but that is my prerogative.



sent 12/16/2012