Beware Myths About Gun Control

CHAUTAUQUA — One organization has for many years put on an annual program at Chautauqua Institution.

The speakers may well all have been bright, personable, well informed, and able to hold audiences’ attention.

Yet almost all of the speakers have been from one side of the spectrum.


Wouldn’t balance be good?

Well, yes, balance at Chautauqua overall would be good, says another organization.

So it sponsors balancing programs.

Advocates for Balance at Chautauqua, or ABC, was formed in 2018. Its mission is “to achieve a balance of speakers in a mutually civil and respectful environment consistent with the historic mission of Chautauqua” Institution. ABC is its own Section 501(c)(3) organization, legally separate from the institution.

And on Monday, July 19, the balance was on law, specifically issues related to the Second Amendment.

In District of Columbia v. Heller in 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court held, 5 to 4, that the Second Amendment protects individuals’ right to keep and bear arms.

The opinion – written by Justice Antonin Scalia and joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito – explains the holding’s historical basis.

It’s well worth reading, particularly by Second Amendment champions.

In 2010, the same five justices agreed in McDonald v. City of Chicago that the Second Amendment applies not only to the federal government but also to the states.

The five justices didn’t all employ the same analysis. Thomas preferred applying the Fourteenth Amendment’s Privileges or Immunities Clause, while the other four – in an opinion written by Alito – applied the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause.

All five, however, reached the same result: The Second Amendment applies not only to the federal government but also to the states.

Not surprisingly, the battle to protect the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms continues.

Dr. John Lott Jr. of the Crime Prevention Research Center was ABC’s July 19 speaker in a series of Monday afternoon ABC events in the Athenaeum Hotel this Chautauqua season.

Lott well understands gun-control advocates’ fallacies. He calls them “Gun Control Myths.”

And that was the title of his July 19 presentation.

Lott showcased two books – treatises may be a better word – that he has written on the subject.

His expertise wouldn’t fit onto a newspaper page, much less into a single column.

Hollywood, Lott observes, likes to produce movies with guns. But when it comes to the rights of individuals, Hollywood turns negative.

Lott is also wary of many academic studies and press reports comparing the United States to other countries.

For example, Lott notes that reports often confuse homicides with murders. Not all homicides are murders. Some homicides are justifiable. Few countries report murders. And few report firearm-related murders.

Lott cited one professor who published a study and purported to have data from many countries that Lott said either don’t even provide data or don’t provide good data. Nevertheless, many gun-control advocates have cited the professor’s study.

One frequent question from Lott is this: Is there one place in the world that has banned all guns or handguns and seen either the murder rate or the homicide rate fall?

Lott says the answer is no, because if one takes guns away from law-abiding citizens, the murder and homicide rates increase. It’s hard to stop criminals from getting guns.

As for what the Biden administration has done so far, Lott recalls, for example, the claim, which he said the president himself has made, that the background-check system has kept more than 3 million firearms out of the hands of dangerous people.

Lott said this is false, because 99 percent of these have been mistakes.

One reason for the mistakes, he said, is a background-check system that flags people who have names similar to, and dates of birth similar to, those of people in the system.

Similar names and similar dates of birth have been “good enough” to ban people from owning guns, he said.

Dr. Randy Elf’s Aug. 20, 2020, ABC presentation is at https://works.bepress.com/elf/21



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