Guns for Teachers: an appeal to data

I saw this on CNN today, but here is the Huffington Post version: Oregon State Rep. Dennis Richardson: Teachers With Guns Could Have Stopped Connecticut Shooting. The argument is pretty straightforward: we should give guns to teachers so they can stop attackers.

It’s easy to see why Rep. Richardson is getting air time. He has a perfect lightning rod of an argument, seductive to one side and enraging to the other. But I don’t want to take the rhetorical route here. It’s easy, but without data it’s a pointless descent into mud wrestling. The point I want to make is that data can be brought to bear here. My belief is that there is plenty of data that shows that giving guns to the “good guys” results in net harm, not net safety.

I hope we are moving in a direction where we can appeal to data in situations like this. We saw a nice example of this recently on Fox News, of all places. Megyn Kelly grilled Karl Rove about math you do as a Republican to make yourself feel better. If that election taught us anything, it’s that hallucinatory math has real consequences.

CNN will continue to interview the Dennis Richardsons of the world. They make for good ratings. But I like to think the appeal of magical thinking in the face of hard data is going to wane. More to the point, I think we have data that this is actually happening.

3 thoughts on “Guns for Teachers: an appeal to data”

  1. This picture is making the rounds on FaceBook:

    http://slowfacts.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/civilians.jpg?w=576&h=576

    Here is the source:

    http://dailyanarchist.com/2012/07/31/auditing-shooting-rampage-statistics/

    An older, and more comprehensive study:

    http://www.amazon.com/More-Guns-Less-Crime-Understanding/dp/0226493636

    If we want police to be armed, why would we not want an even more distributed network of armed citizens. If you were someone that wanted to go on a shooting spree, it would make sense to do so at a place where no one else is armed versus somewhere where someone might be packing. People ‘rationally’ shoot up schools instead of biker conventions, off duty-cop luncheons, and the society of knife throwers annual ball.

  2. Well, beginning the discussion with data is exactly what I’m talking about. We may spend a long time vetting each other’s data sources, but that’s better than yelling the same thing over and over.

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