Revisiting a misguided gun control agenda

by Stuart Baker — University student


This will be my final response to Earl McDowell’s letter to the editor in the Jan. 22 Minnesota Daily, “Guns kill people, Mr. Pierre” and his letter in the Jan. 29 Daily, “Guns kill people, revisited,” and it is obvious that this exchange could go back and forth for some time.

In my first letter to the editor Jan. 24, “A misguided gun control agenda,” I responded to McDowell’s call for more gun control laws.

In that letter, I outlined the fact that “assault weapons” and “high capacity” magazines are nothing more than media-manufactured terms. The “assault weapons” are ordinary semiautomatic rifles — not machine guns — identical in function to rifles that have been in existence for more than a century. The “high capacity magazines” are actually standard magazines that have been manufactured for more than 70 years. Both these rifles and the magazines are owned and used by tens of millions of law-abiding citizens for competition, hunting and self-defense.

I also detailed how the proposed gun bans have a proven track record of failing to reduce violent crime. I cited several academic studies that reached this conclusion, including Department of Justice and the National Research Council studies.

 I also referenced some broader academic studies from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Criminal Justice Reference Service, in which researchers were unable to find evidence that gun control laws reduce violent crime with firearms.

In his latest response, McDowell criticizes these studies but provides no credible evidence or references as to why they are flawed.

Instead, he labels me as some sort of National Rifle Association stooge and suggests I watch an interview with a politician. Apparently, the fact that the studies challenge his viewpoint is enough evidence for him to dismiss them.

He also casually refutes professor Gary Kleck’s research, which indicates approximately 2.5 million cases each year of defensive firearms use.

He proclaims that this research is “flawed” but provides no credible evidence to support his claim. Instead he implies that the numbers are just too high and suggests that they cannot be true because he does not know anyone that has defended themselves with a firearm. This is faulty logic. Just because a phenomena is outside of McDowell’s frame of reference it does not mean it does not exist.

In my first letter, I referenced the recent case where a woman in Georgia used a handgun to successfully defend herself and her children. This past week, an 82-year-old in Missouri used a firearm to defend himself when a man broke in and assaulted him. Self -defense with a firearm is a common occurrence, as much as McDowell would like to deny it.

Too often this is a debate about opinions. However, what matters is finding strategies that actually work to reduce violent crime. There is no credible evidence that gun bans or gun control laws improve public safety. The studies I mentioned above, as well as others, demonstrate that more gun control laws would mean revisiting the same failed policies at the cost of infringing on millions of law-abiding gun owners.

In other words, we would exchange no public safety benefit for fewer individual liberties. That is an unacceptable tradeoff.