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If You Care About the Second Amendment – And Incredibly Terrible Reporting That’s Biased Against Guns – Support Reason!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016 15:49
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Today through Tuesday, December 6, Reason is running its annual webathon. We’re asking readers of this site to make tax-deductible donations in dollars and Bitcoin to Reason Foundation, the 501(c)(3) nonprofit that publishes our award-winning journalism in video, audio, and print form. Different giving levels come with different levels of swag, which you can read about here.

All school killings are horrifying and yet they are made somehow even more terrible when you know the place in question. Monday’s attempted mass killing at Ohio State University, in which the would-be mastermind ended up being the only death, was particularly harrowing for me because my older son had just graduated from the place this past spring (thankfully, he was sitting just a few feet from me when the news reports started coming in).

Jesus, really, what kind of world are we living in? Another day, another mass attack, right? The world is getting more dangerous, according to both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. No, but it seems that way, which is good enough for partisans of the right and the left who are constantly looking for ways to lock down your freedom.

Abdul Razak Ali Artan, the apparent assailant who was shot to death after running at people in his car and wielding a butcher knife, was born in Somalia and was Muslim, so the right is already shouting about how this proves we need to kick out all immigrants, especially Muslims, and wall off (or is it wall in?) America. Never mind that native-born Americans commit 90 percent of terrorism-related murders and that the odds of being killed in such an event come in around 1 in 3.6 million. Donald Trump and a host of conservative types know what they know:

Trump has recommended “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on”—a plan that his own running mate called “offensive and unconstitutional.” More recently Trump has said the moratorium should apply to all visitors from countries “compromised by terrorism,” a category that arguably includes most of the world.

On the broadly defined left, the Ohio State attack is ultimately about the need to curtail gun ownership and all that implies. The incident was initially (and erroneously) reported as an “active-shooter” event, leading to folks ranging from Democratic vice-presidential candidate Tim Kaine to California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom to the news site calling for more gun control. Just as Republicans and conservatives feel compelled to act out certain scripts over and over again (like the “hosts” on HBO’s Westworld), so too do Democrats and liberals.

At Reason, we’ve got our default settings too, and we wear them on our sleeves and every issue of the magazine: We believe in “Free Minds and Free Markets.” As libertarians, we think the starting point should always be in favor of individual liberty to live how you want; to eat, smoke, drink, and marry whom you want; to dress how you want; and on and on.

But we’re not mindless automatons running the same script over and over. We work to engage the world and discover new facts and frameworks that change how we might think about things. The right can’t internalize the idea that crime has gone down as immigrants have gone up any more than the left can deal with more guns correlating with less crime. I write as the world’s most reluctant and worst shot—I’ve fired real guns a few times in my life and am lucky when I hit the sky or the ground—but I’m in favor of strong Second Amendment rights. That’s less than simply because they are in the Consitution and more because I can recognize that over the past quarter-century gun laws have been vastly liberalized (as liberals never stop to remind us) and violent gun crime and murder have decreased by half.

One good reason to support Reason’s journalism is that in a world of knee-jerk media and politicians, we don’t immediately use every current event as fodder to simply push a longstanding agenda. This results in some great journalism you won’t see anywhere else, especially at places that are already cranking up their basic immigrants-are-evil and more-gun-control stories even before basic facts are known.

Last January, for instance, Reason’s Brian Doherty published an in-depth analysis of new research that purportedly showed that more guns equal more crime and that more gun laws equalled less gun violence. That’s plausible enough. What Doherty did was the opposite of what the media and pols do when they encounter something that either confounds or confirms their bias: He actually worked through the new information to see how it holds up.

What we really know about the costs and benefits of private gun ownership and the efficacy of gun laws is far more fragile than what…the president would have us believe.

More guns do not necessarily mean more homicides. More gun laws do not necessarily mean less gun crime. Finding good science is hard enough; finding good social science on a topic so fraught with politics is nigh impossible. The facts then become even more muddled as the conclusions of those less-than-ironclad academic studies cycle through the press and social media in a massive game of telephone. Despite the confident assertions of the gun controllers and decades of research, we still know astonishingly little about how guns actually function in society and almost nothing at all about whether gun control policies actually work as promised.

Long before Donald Trump came along and just started making shit up all the time, the 21st century had already entered an era of “truthiness,” of things being held as true because they confirmed what we wanted to believe was true. George Bush invaded Iraq on bad information and nobody—not even the president himself—realized at the time that Barack Obama was only kidding when he said he’d have the most-transparent administration ever. In such a world where basic reality is up for grabs, Reason magazine,, and Reason TV are more needed than ever. Unlike most of the media, you can trust us to be tethered to facts and to show our math, to explain our logic and rationale for believing what we believe and laying out the best policy for this or that issue. And as important, you can also count us to be finding the future as it exists among us. To get a better sense of what I’m talking about, listen for a bit to our recent interview with the libertarian activist Cody Wilson, who blew people’s minds by 3D printing the world’s first gun and has elaborated his philosophy of freedom in the new book, Come and Take It: The Gun Printer’s Guide to Thinking Free.

Because as important as it is to call bullshit on the press and current pols, it’s even more important to show what I and the rest of Reason hold to be a self-evident truth: We can make the world a better or worse place based on how we live.

Today through Tuesday, December 6, Reason is running its annual webathon. We’re asking readers of this site to make tax-deductible donations in dollars and Bitcoin to Reason Foundation, the 501(c)(3) nonprofit that publishes our award-winning journalism in video, audio, and print form. Different giving levels come with different levels of swag, which you can read about here.

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