Having deprived New Yorkers of the ability to smoke in public and drink large sodas as mayor, Michael Bloomberg has set his sites on a much more profound breach of freedom: Americans’ Second Amendment rights.
The former mayor has pledged to pump another $50 million of his own money into the cause. To put this number into perspective consider this: One man just promised to spend more than 2.5 times as much as the National Rifle Association on political activities over the next year. And this doesn’t even take into account the money Bloomberg has spent on “public health” gun research, reported to be in the tens of millions.
Why? Because “the broader epidemic of gun violence in this country,” as President Obama referred to it, has become such a problem that it cries out for radical approaches that ignore the Constitution.
Except here’s the thing: There is no epidemic of gun violence in the United States. As a matter of fact, gun violence has been steadily decreasing for years.
The premise behind gun control is that it reduces offensive gun use by criminals. The catch is that it also reduces defensive gun use by law abiding citizens. Whether stricter gun control results in fewer gun deaths depends on which effect – reducing offensive use or reducing defensive use – is greater. This means that the gun control question is an empirical question. The correct answer lies in the data, not in the impassioned beliefs of a former mayor. And the data have a lot to say on the topic.