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Gun Misinformation

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never miss viewpointsKerby Anderson

This week I spent some time talking about misinformation and disinformation. Therefore, it is worth mentioning a commentary by John Lott with the appropriate title “When Misinformation Drives Bad Policy.”

He is the author of books and scholarly research on many topics but is probably best known for his research and writing on guns, crime, and gun policy. He has been on my radio program many times, and I trust his careful research. You can imagine my surprise when I read a statistic that seemed totally inaccurate.

He has found that the average American assumes that guns are involved in nearly half (48%) of all violent crimes. The true figure is less than 8 percent. That just didn’t seem right. Does that mean that over 92 percent of violent crimes in America do not involved firearms? Yes, that is exactly what he means. You can check his link to the US Department of Justice and its National Crime Victimization Survey for 2020.

In his commentary, he cites a survey of 1,000 likely voters that shows how misinformed Americans are about guns and violent crime. The survey found large differences across groups. Democrats are much more likely to assume that a majority (56.9%) of violent crimes involve guns. By contrast, a much lower percentage (37%) of Republicans believe that.

These perceptions also influence the policies Americans propose. Respondents who were close to the actual percentage of guns involved in violent crimes believe the best way to fight crime was to arrest violent criminals. Those who thought more than 80 percent of violent crimes involved guns support more gun control laws along with stricter enforcement of current gun laws.

All of this makes sense. If you think most violent crimes involve guns, you are going to propose more gun control laws. If you know the actual percentage, you are going to propose other law enforcement policies.viewpoints new web version

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