Montana Politics

Guns Don’t Make Us Safer, Research Makes Clear

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While the Montana Shooting Sports Association desperately tries to pass a series of laws that would make gun possession legal by any person, in any setting, in any state of mind, they (and their supporters) often contend that guns make us safer. They raise the illusory, hero-fantasy of one determined gun owner preventing a tragedy on a college campus or a brave woman at home fending off an attacker as “evidence” that more people with more guns would make ours a safer society.

And it’s bunk.

David Hemenway, director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, just conducted a study that demonstrates the opposite. Using the same methodology of the climate change study which revealed an overwhelming majority of scientists writing in peer-reviewed journals believe in human-caused climate change, Hemenway reviewed over 1,000 peer-reviewed articles about the relationship between gun ownership and public safety. His findings?

  • 64% of researchers believe that gun ownership makes a home more dangerous.
  • 71% agree that strong gun laws reduce homicide.
  • 73% disagree that guns are used in self-defense far more often than they are used in crime.

Gun advocates construct narratives that they substitute for evidence, and they’re narratives that work. People would like to believe that they’d fight back in a crisis situation, but the truth is that more guns make our society less safe. When the NRA has to lobby Congress to pass bills preventing federal research about gun violence, it should tell you everything you need to know: these gun advocates know the evidence isn’t on their side.

The next time Gary Marbut presumes to lecture a legislative committee about gun safety, I’d love to see someone confront him with the truth: despite his anecdotes, despite his pseudo-science, and despite his three-person organization, he’s wrong about guns and public safety. And good for some of the members of the Legislature and the Governor who’ve stood up against him and his posturing.

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is an eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

6 Comments

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  • I see you subscribe to the ‘more guns mean less gun violence’ philosophy, Craig. It’s not about “passing additional onerous laws.” It’s about keeping the outrageous gun expansion bills in check: guns on campus, in banks, bars, our work places and churches; in state, county and municipal buildings; it’s about concealed carry for everyone, no permit required

      • What do you see, Craig? None of the bills presented at the 2015 Montana Legislature attempt to restrict gun ownership. They’re all about more guns in more places for more people.

        • Glad you asked rather than the lame approach.

          I see these bills as a reaction to many horrific events where an unarmed populace are at the mercy of vicious killers and rapists while law enforcement protection is woefully inadequate at stopping these crimes. For example the latest campus killings come from Kenya where Christian students were singled out and executed. http://time.com/3768749/kenya-alshabaab-garissa/ The Virginia Tech shooting in 2007 left 32 dead here in the US. Then there was the movie theater slaughter. IMHO that’s why there is an upward spike in public opinion in the Pew poll.

          As to the particular Montana bills, I find many troubling such as guns on campus. That being said Montana is not the first state to consider it or have implemented it. Don’t think there has been an uptick in killings in those states that allow campus possession.

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