This dialog excites me. Thanks for responding. I also stalked your twitter, and it appears you’re already doing a lot of the work I was considering doing with my publication later in this year regarding vaping. The behavior of the CDC regarding vaping is horrible, and some of the private discussions I’ve had with CDC employees about their approach would make your skin crawl. They are all-in on the prohibitionist mindset and not considering counterfactuals at all.
Anyway, back to guns.
The best analogy would be domestic violence protection orders. In my experience (and I’m not an expert in this area), most times when judges issue a protection order, there is a real threat. I am not aware of a substantial number of cases where protection orders are issued and there is actually no threat to the petitioner.
I have had the terrible fortune to have friends dinged on both sides of TPOs.
A friend of my wife called in a TPO against her ex-husband, who is a loon, and it took a week to get served. We sheltered her family in my home for a week waiting for the sheriff to take his gun away. He didn’t come to my house because, among other things, he knows I’m a gun owner, and better trained and equipped than he. (sad trombone)
Another friend of mine, who is a “superowner,” got a TPO taken out against him from an ex girlfriend who was a loon. He complied with the sheriff, who had to take three hours removing and cataloging everything he was taking due to the TPO, and my friend had to go to a court hearing two months later to assure the judge he never had any intention of ever coming any where near his loony ex girlfriend again, and eventually got his firearms back.
These things work, but often not very well, and the false positive rate on them is quite large given how anyone can file them, and the truth is only determined after the fact. In these cases, judges err on the side of safety, which I think is probably the correct thing to do, lacking any sort of investigation. Judges will always err on the side of safety.
TPOs are basically treated as 100% legitimate with no sort of checking up front, and the thing is resolved later at a hearing. If we end up with hundreds of thousands, or perhaps a million in a 1% error rate model, of these Red Flags in a system, it’s going to be an absolute nightmare.
In addition, in talking to officials from Connecticut, which has had a number of years of experience with the law, my understanding is that it is working extremely well, not being misused, not resulting in a lot of false positives, and is preventing suicides and very often appreciated by the gun owners themselves.
I would like to read more about this. If you have any publicly available sources, please link me.
I very much like your proposal for a system that combines universal background checks with a permit requirement, but without an explicit gun registration mechanism. I am not a fan of gun registrations requirements because they are not going to prevent firearm violence but are mainly useful for prosecuting or obtaining tracking information after a crime occurs. I think we always have to weigh the inconvenience and imposition on gun owners/buyers with the benefits of the policy, and I’m not sure that these “informational” benefits outweigh the costs. My mind would change if I saw evidence that registration laws decrease gun violence rates, but in my own research, we did not find any significant relationship between state-level gun registration laws and firearm homicide rates.
There is also empirical evidence to support your suggested approach. We found that permit requirements seem to have the most robust relationship with lower homicide rates, more so than point-of-sale background checks. Some of my colleagues have even questioned whether background checks, in the absence of permit requirements, are at all effective. The scheme that you propose is consistent with the evidence that I’ve seen, avoids burdensome registration requirements, and seems like a good model.
Thank you quite a bit. It was what I decided on after writing a series of seven articles, two of which heavily referenced your material.
I have since leaned on one of your studies in an article analyzing the cost of a buyback program versus its efficacy. It was purely back-of-the-envelope blog math, but I think you can guess the answer. I sketched up an approximate cost of 80 million dollars worth of guns bought back per single life saved, based on the marginal rates you/Ross/King published in 2013, at a cost of $750 per gun. 80 million dollars will buy a lot of extra cops.
3. Mag Restrictions
I’d like to offer another perspective on your magazine size restriction position, based on talking with intelligent tactical owners.
It seems to us, generally speaking, that mag size restrictions don’t do any significant good in a mass shooter scenario, because in almost all mass shooter scenarios the shooter shoots until he’s out of ammo. The actual limiting factor on the deadliness of a mass shooters in Parkland, Sandy Hook, and similar, is purely how much ammo the guy can fit in a backpack. Whether that ammo is in 10 round boxes or 30 round boxes doesn’t much impact overall fire rate. Further, it seems to many of us that pistols probably make better mass shooting weapons than rifles, because they’re concealable, lighter, and range isn’t a factor. Also, the ammo is lighter, which means more rounds in the backpack. It seems to us that most of these mass shooter scenarios could have been just as deadly, probably more deadly, if they were using semi auto pistols with standard mags instead of rifles. They’re only choosing the rifle because of the copycat thing, and the social contagion thing, and the media saturation thing.
What is going on with mass shootings? Lessons from past solved problems. | Open Source Defense
This essay has been in my head for a long time. But after hearing about the mass shooting yesterday in Texas and then…
In truth, the only mass shooting in my memory that was more effective due to choosing a rifle was Vegas, and that was due to range instead of mag size. Many of these shooters may have done their victims a favor by using a rifle, even given the magazine size advantage, because they’re telegraphing their intent by the rifle not being concealable.
I worry about counterfactuals. Pretending folks could somehow magically evaporate all the rifles and standard mags, I seriously think they’d just be funneled into better weapons (pistols) anyway, and nothing changes, and then we’re having the same “what do we ban next” discussion.