"What you see depends on where you stand" update. Paul Helmke on gun violence:
Studies generally establish that the more guns there are in a home, city, state, or country, the more gun violence there will be in that home, city, state or country. Guns too often get lost, stolen or misused. People with guns (like all of us) too often get angry, drunk, or make mistakes. Trained law enforcement professionals, who are tested regularly on "shoot/don't shoot" scenarios, undergo psychological reviews, and target practice, still miss their target 80% of the time in active shooter situations, and make other human errors. I am not "anti-gun" but believe that along with "rights" there needs to be serious recognition of the risks and responsibilities that come with gun ownership.
Once you strip away the raw emotionalism of the carnage at Sandy Hook, or the Aurora theater, or Columbine, or Luby's, or whatever, you're left with a series of inconvenient truths for gun-control advocates: Over the past 20 years or so, more guns are in circulation and violent crime is down. So is violent crime that uses guns. Murders are down, too, even as video games and movies and music and everything else are filled with more fantasy violence than ever. For god's sake, even mass shootings are not becoming more common. If ever there was a case to stand pat in terms of public policy, the state of gun control provides it (and that's without even delving into the fact that Supreme Court has recently validated a personal right to own guns in two landmark cases). It's probably always been the case but certainly since the start of 21st century, it seems like we legislate only by crisis-mongering and the results have not been good.
Helmke's work with the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence does not predispose him to look for evidence that would justify leaving the gun laws alone. Gillespie's association with the libertarian magazine Reason does not make him inclined to justify greater regulation, of guns or anything else.
My own biases edge me to Gillespie's views, but if you try to support either proposition with actual statistics -- an increase in guns leads to an increase/decrease in gun violence -- you can get into murky waters. In his book "More Guns, Less Crime," economist John Lott seems to make a good case for the Gillespie side, but critics have pointed out more than a few flaws in the work, including:
The central problem is that crime moves in waves, yet Lott's analysis does not include variables that can explain these cycles. For example, he uses no variables on gangs, drug consumption, or community policing. As a result, many of Lott's findings make no sense. He finds, for example, that both increasing the rate of unemployment and reducing income reduces the rate of violent crimes and that reducing the number of black women 40 years old or older (who are rarely either perpetrators or victims of murder) substantially reduces murder rates. Indeed, according to Lott's results, getting rid of older black women will lead to a more dramatic reduction in homicide rates than increasing arrest rates or enacting shall-issue laws.