Gun control advocates this month took a page from the global warming activists playbook: the science is settled, so there is no need for debate.
However, instead of actually reviewing the scientific literature on the subject, Professor David Hemenway at Harvard made a survey of cherry-picked authors. Surprisingly, he found the vast majority agreed that we need more gun control.
So let’s look at the details. He polled authors who had published in the fields of “public health, public policy, sociology, or criminology.” Most notably, half of the authors picked were within Hemenway’s own field of public health and another third were sociologists/criminologists, followed by public policy and a few economists. It dramatically over weighted those in public health. It didn’t matter whether the publications even contained any empirical work or were related to the survey questions.
Authors were asked if they agreed with the statement: “In the United States, guns are used in self-defense far more often than they are used in crime.” Hemenway reports that 73 percent disagreed. However, many respondents may have believed that there still exists a net benefit from gun ownership — just not enough to say that guns are used defensively “far more often.”
It is abundantly clear that it matters who you ask and how the questions are asked. A survey released in February by the Crime Prevention Research Center conducted by Professor Gary Mauser at Simon Fraser University in Canada found that 88 percent of North American economics researchers agreed with the statement that, in the US, guns were more frequently used for self-defense than for crime.