In an exchange with Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn explicitly rejected a practical distinction between correlation and causation in arguing that, from his perspective, the 1994 assault weapons ban was a policy success.
The senator asked for his personal experience, whether he observed a change in 1994 or when the ban was phased out in 2004. Immediately, Chief Flynn dismissed the objection that empirical studies had not found any causal relationship regarding the 1994 Brady Bill which enacted federal background checks.
He said there was a clearly identified correlation, but not causation, between the change in law and reductions in gun violence. When considering the assertions by professional scientists that such a distinction merits serious consideration, his response was that “PhDs take forever to make a decision.” From his perspective, the law worked. He conceded that ‘we did not conduct a control [sic] study … we also changed tactics and did some other different things,’ but it seemed to him that “taking weapons out of the hands of violent criminals” reduced gun deaths. “It depends on how you want to spin the data,” he concluded, “and that is an entire industry itself.”
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