The truth about the good guys and the bad guys with guns

bad guyYou know how the NRA types are always telling us that the antidote to a bad guy with a gun is a good guy? This claim owes much of its currency to the work of a “scholar,” John Lott, author of the widely cited The War on Guns, who has made shilling for the NRA his life work. Sadly for the NRA, though, Lott is a demonstrable fraud. Devin Hughes and Evan DeFelippis, two reporters at Think Progress have examined his background and his published research and confirm that, as summarized below in Raw Story, it’s all bunkum:

They presented the five worst [problems with Lott’s work], which included falsely claiming that a Lott essay was published in a “peer-reviewed journal,” lying about the number of mass shootings in the U.S. versus Europe, making deliberate misreadings of the center’s own analyses, lying about the number of deaths in “gun-free zones,” and, again, creating an echo chamber by posing as fans and supporters online.

Just to show how easy it is to fool an audience that wants to be fooled – say, for example, Fox News and its devoted viewers – Think Progress also presents evidence that Lott’s dishonesty is not new news:

But Lott’s recent successes belie a far more shadowy past. A little over a decade ago, he was disgraced and his career was in tatters. Not only was Lott’s assertion that more guns leads to more safety formally repudiated by a National Research Council panel, but he had also been caught pushing studies with severe statistical errors on numerous occasions. An investigation uncovered that he had almost certainly fabricated an entire survey on defensive gun use. And a blogger revealed that Mary Rosh, an online commentator claiming to be a former student of Lott’s who would frequently post about how amazing he was, was in fact John Lott himself. He was all but excommunicated from academia.

Will this debunking of the “good guys with a gun” line make any difference?

Maybe, but not likely. First of all, a corollary of the rule that folks are easy to fool when they want to be, is the fact that few of those folks will believe information contrary to their druthers when they get it. Secondly, this information isn’t likely to make it to the outlets frequented by 2nd amendment types. And thirdly, even if this weren’t the case, it may already be too late.

In the St. Louis-Dispatch this morning, I read about at least five shootings in St. Louis last night. Additionally, five people and a service dog in Joplin were injured when one of those guys with a gun decided to go on a random shooting spree. Thanks to the efforts of folks like Lott, there’s lots of unnecessary guns out there. Good guys and bad guys aside, you can be sure that plenty of folks will end up as shooting victims one way or another.

To make matters worse, the NRA-loving Missouri legislature passed a bill, SB656, that all but eliminated any pretense of gun regulation in the state and extended the definition of allowable “stand your ground” shootings to permit the offensive use of a gun anytime one of those itchy-fingered, paranoid good guys or gals gets all hot and bothered about what they think might be a potential threat. While the governor sensibly vetoed this absurdity, the GOP-dominated legislature is confident that they can override his veto in September.

One state Senator, Republican Brian Munzlinger, who professed to be “shocked” by the Governor’s veto, thinks we need more domestic guns because of ISIS. A few isolated incidents gets these folks more perturbed than the five victims who got in the way of a bullet in St. Louis last night, or the five in Joplin who were shot in their vehicles by a man they didn’t even know.

So there  you have it

Things are about to get truly scary if NRA fanatics get their way in Missouri whether one of the main selling points for guns and more guns is based lies or not. Mix the vast numbers of guns already on the street, exaggerated paranoia, and the fact that the NRA will continue tossing cash into the laps of compliant politicians, and nobody will even hear you when you point out that the case for more guns is built on rotting straw.

*1st and 2nd paragraphs lightly edited to source links more clearly (8/15, 4:11 pm).

[Editor’s note: This article originally appeared on ShowMe Progress.]