Hi Michael. Welcome to Medium.
I’ve written several pieces on Medium unpacking some of your work, and although at times I’m critical, I consider myself a pretty big fan of yours, more than any other gun researcher.
(disclosure, I’m writing from a pro-gun position)
It seems to me as if you’re doing the best job out there of trying to be impartial and getting your analyses right. I haven’t read all of your studies, but I’ve probably fully absorbed about a half dozen, and I liked them.
I was pleased to read the recent interview here:
State Gun Laws That Actually Reduce Gun Deaths
As the United States reels from three back-to-back mass shootings-which occurred within the span of eight days in…
I was wondering if you’d be interested in having a dialog about a couple of specifics within the interview.
1. Red Flag Laws
Among the “intellectually pro gun space” (this is a thing), our greatest concern with red flag laws is Base Rate Neglect. This was penned by a colleague of mine, unpacking it:
Base rate neglect and Andrew Ross Sorkin's credit card surveillance system | Open Source Defense
The New York Times' Andrew Ross Sorkin published an article on Christmas Eve, to argue that credit card companies…
My first question to you, is whether you’re familiar with the concept, and whether the concept gives you pause with how Red Flag Laws might be implemented?
There are certain civil rights implications regarding Red Flag Laws that concern me, namely that lawmen may not be impartial or trustworthy (or non-racist) enough to implement them without major problems erupting. But the deeper problem with them seems to me to be mathematical. The number of false positives will tremendously outstrip the true positives, and there will still be false negatives with which to contend.
2. Universal Background Checks
I haven’t dug into the study you’re referencing in the interview yet, unfortunately, but your conclusions seem valid to me, intuitively, after crunching on these studies for the past year and a half. It seems to me that the most effective law to prevent homicides, in terms of raw gun control measures, is to prevent purchase by people with histories of violent crime.
As you probably know, the NICS system is only accessible by FFLs. If I make a sale to a private citizen, I don’t have the ability to check the NICS even if I wanted. And as you probably also know, gun registries really freak the gun rights crowd out, because registries are historically speaking always the precursor to confiscation. I’ve been of the opinion for years that there is a compromise buried in these two positions that isn’t being talked about.
I’d like your opinion on this idea:
A license to buy, with no individual firearm ownership tracking.
It would work like this. Some level of competency and safety training must be exhibited, and a license to buy is issued. Before issuance, the NICS database is checked once. Thereafter, FFLs simply check the license. But individual sellers can also check this license, without having to query the NICS. And if a licensed individual does something violent, their license is revoked and they’re added to the NICS to prevent them from getting a new license.
Do you think a system such as that would provide the same sorts of benefits you identify in the above referenced study, in keeping guns out of the hands of individuals with a violent history, while also meeting the gun rights concerns about ownership registries?
Thanks in advance.