It’s Time To Learn Something About Guns.

              Last week our friends at the Hopkins-Bloomberg school put up a website with an twelve-hour, online course about gun violence which can be accessed right here. The course covers all the essential issues swirling around the gun-violence debate today, including reviews of relevant laws and comprehensive discussions of what we know and what we still don’t know about the behavior that kills and injures more than 125,000 Americans every year.

              This is, as far as I can tell, the first attempt to create a serious and comprehensive effort not only to explain gun violence, but to give both specialists and advocates a clear roadmap that can be used to understand what gun violence is all about. And it couldn’t have been done at a more germane time, given the degree to which gun violence has become something of a litmus test for every wannabe 2020 Presidential candidate, at least on the Democratic side. Whether there will be more than one GOP candidate remains to be seen, ha ha ha.

              In addition to classroom presentations by members of the Hopkins faculty’ along with some invited academic guests, each subject also contains a very detailed bibliography of relevant published research. This is the first time any group has mounted a serious effort to create a collection of documentation on gun violence which can be used to further inform the gun-control community about the research that lies behind our understanding about violence caused by guns. The bibliography contains more than 125(!) separate references, and can be printed out or saved for further use. Frankly, this resource alone is a reason why every gun-control advocate or activist should enroll and take this course.

              As of this morning, the course registration stands at slightly more than 2,000 hardy souls. That number is an embarrassment, it’s a joke. It tells me that what I have said (and gotten criticized for saying) about the gun-control movement, or how they refer to themselves as the gun violence prevention movement or GVP, namely, that most of the folks who claim to be so concerned about gun violence are no more interested to understanding the issue than the bunch promoting 2nd-Amendment ‘rights’ on the other side.

              When Art Kellerman and Fred Rivara published their formative articles on gun violence back in the early 1990’s, the pro-gun movement responded by launching attacks on this effort which, from a scientific point of view, were nothing more than errant nonsense or worse. Public health research on gun violence was derided as fake, un-American and designed to be used by government to take away everyone’s guns. If anything, this campaign set the tone for the more recent iteration of the alt-right’s response to science and scientific research known as ‘fake’ news.

              I would be much less concerned about the gun lobby’s strategy to eliminate or downplay the need for gun research were it not for the fact that most of the folks on my side of the fence do not seem all that concerned about absorbing the lessons that can be derived from such research themselves. Last year I mounted a survey which asked gun-control activists to answer 12 questions about gun laws, all the questions covering basic information being used by advocacy groups to define their strategies about violence caused by guns. The little quiz has been taken by several hundred folks and the average score has been six correct; in other words, a big, fat flunk. Given the fact that most GVP activists (like 90 percent) hold post-graduate degrees, the lack of basic knowledge in the GVP community is a deplorable state of affairs.

              I think that gun-control organizations like Brady and Everytown should not only be actively promoting the Hopkins gun-violence course, but should be telling, indeed insisting that their members and supporters register and sign up for the course – now! To quote Terry Goodkind, “Knowledge is a weapon and I intend to be formidably armed.”

              Armed with a gun or armed with the facts. Which do you choose?

4 thoughts on “It’s Time To Learn Something About Guns.

  1. I actually took this course. Very informative. I own many guns (all kept secure). I’m glad to see some suicide prevention efforts involving FFLs and suicide prevention activists. It’s good to know that there is common ground that can be found.

  2. The course had a section from someone from the Yale law school talking about relations between police and people in poor areas. The following quote was about attitudes the people in the neighborhoods have but I think applies to how the anti-gun people should treat gun owners as well.

    Quote:”When I use the term legitimacy, I am using it in a very particular way. Specifically, I mean to refer to positive theories of social psychology, and not philosophical ideas. 

    Social psychologists have demonstrated that people are more likely to confer legitimacy on authorities and laws. That is, people are more likely to voluntarily obey authorities and law, cooperate with them, and engage with them when they perceive authorities and law as fair. 

    And these researchers have also determined that people are much more likely to come to conclusions about the fairness of authorities and laws when four factors are present. 

    First, voice is incredibly important, and by voice, I mean an opportunity to tell your side of the story when you’re dealing with an authority, or have input into a law, or legislative strategy, or policy. 

    Second, people care a great deal about fair decision making, and by that, I mean people care about the fact that decisions are based in fact, that are neutral and not biased, and that are transparent.

    Third, people care in their dealings with authorities about being treated with dignity, concern for their rights, with respect, and with politeness. 

    Fourth, people care in their dealings with authorities
    about being able to expect to be treated benevolently in the future. 

    We call this factor trustworthiness. –

    People want to believe that the authorities that they are dealing with believe that they count. And they make this decision by assessing how authorities treat them -with respect to the four factors I just laid out above.”

    They quote was from the transcript going along with them lecture so may have some punctuation missing.

    • I agree with this comment 100%. I always encourage GVP advocacy organizations to put more effort into reaching out to gun owners, to invite them to discussions and meetings so that their voices are heard and respected.

  3. Mike, you are THE MAN on this topic!!!!! I’m taking the course & find it very enlightening. And what you say about GVP folks being uninformed is sadly true.

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