NYT: “Guns Are Bad, Because… We Say So”

I probably shouldn’t be surprised, but I still am. The New York Times unsigned editorial opposing the Supreme Court decision overturning the Chicago gun ban is one of the most poorly reasoned editorials I’ve ever read. Two excerpts:

Once again, the court’s conservative majority imposed its selective reading of American history, citing the country’s violent separation from Britain and the battles over slavery as proof that the authors of the Constitution and its later amendments considered gun ownership a fundamental right. The court’s members ignored the present-day reality of Chicago, where 258 public school students were shot last school year — 32 fatally.

Mayors and state lawmakers will have to use all of that room and keep adopting the most restrictive possible gun laws — to protect the lives of Americans and aid the work of law enforcement officials. [emphasis added]

Really? Are liberals still arguing that because the U.S. has a lot of gun violence, gun bans work? How about one shred of peer-reviewed social science showing that any of the myriad state and local regulations of firearms have actually had a robust negative influence on violent crime rates? Is the NYT stuck in a 1994 time warp?

4 thoughts on “NYT: “Guns Are Bad, Because… We Say So”

  1. Jason, you’re right that that’s an astonishing bit of absolutely unsupported opinionating. What’s also shocking is that they think that, in interpreting the requirements of the Constitution, the SC should somehow be driven by the “present-day reality of Chicago.” That, I thought, was precisely not the purpose of Constitutional interpretation, which serves to tell us what legal constraints there are are dealing with that “reality,” rather than vice versa. I’d say the gray lady is getting a little fuzzy in her thinking.

  2. Jason and Mark:

    I have never looked to the NYT editorial page for sound legal arguments (and I have never been surprised). But as policy guy, I always find the logic of the above astounding.

    1. Chicago has a de facto gun ban on handguns
    2. Chicago has a stunning level of handgun violence
    Therefore, gun bans work, QED

    Another of my favorites:

    1. The United States spends more than other OECD countries on education
    2. The United States performs poorly relative to other OECD countries
    Therefore, the United States needs to spend more on education

    The quality of argumentation is higher among my freshman students (or “people of frosh” as I guess we now have to call them).

  3. At the risk of promoting myself too shamelessly, I’ll add this to my reasons why I will shed no tears when the New York Times and other traditional media outlets pass into the electronic cache of history. Ed Lopez’s recent article on the economics of media is a must-read.

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