No More Debating Gun Control. It’s Science! - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
No More Debating Gun Control. It’s Science!
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H. Holden Thorp reflects on global sustainability during the 2021 Nobel Prize Summit Our Planet, Our Future (Stockholm Resilience Centre TV/YouTube)

Does science editorialize? Science does.

The academic journal just moved gun control from a public-policy dispute to a scientific question. Without citing any data, Science declared science firmly against the National Rifle Association and on the side of Everytown for Gun Safety.

“The common thread in all of the country’s revolting mass shootings is the absurdly easy access to guns,” the editorial claims. “The science is clear: Restrictions work, and it’s likely that even more limitations would save thousands of lives. So why not take the laws much further, as other countries have done?”

The scientific experiment that took place in a 758,449 square-mile laboratory to our south provides an answer. Mexico bans firearms in all businesses not attached to homes, requires universal gun registration, makes it very difficult to carry, prohibits private gun shops, and permits just one firearms store, run by the government, in the nation of around 130 million people. For every gun sold legally in Mexico, about 2,000 such legal firearms sales occur in the United States.

The science, or at least the data, is indeed clear — just not in the way Science imagines it.

Mexico, containing far less than half the number of people as the United States does, endures double the number of homicides.

But Science depicts gun control as possessing scientific weight — perhaps the editorialist concedes its standing as somewhere beneath heliocentrism — in the face of practice refuting theory. The editorial, written by H. Holden Thorp — a chemist who resigned as chancellor of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill amid a scandal involving no-show classes for athletes — presumes to know the findings of the research it urges.

“Scientists should not sit on the sidelines and watch others fight this out,” the out-of-place editorial reads. “More research into the public health impacts of gun ownership will provide further evidence of its deadly consequences. Science can show that gun restrictions make societies safer. Science can show that mental illness is not a determinative factor in mass shootings. And science can show that racism is measurable and leads to violence.”

What happens when the data, as it does in not just Mexico but almost the entirety of the Western Hemisphere, undermines suppositions held by Science regarding the right to bear arms leading to increased gun deaths? Rational minds who favor gun control might then conclude not that science rebuts their public policy preferences but that some questions remain outside of the bounds — yes, science tells us next to nothing about poetry, theology, and many other fields (just as so many fields offer little when it comes to science) — of science to answer.

The editorial essentially instructs scientists: lay down your beakers and boiling flasks and pickup sandwich boards and bullhorns.

“Make protest signs,” it advises. “Start marching. Push lawmakers to finally break the partisan gridlock that has made moments of silence a regular observance. The National Rifle Association and its minions must be defeated. It’s up to us because the victims of gun violence are tragically and devastatingly not here to protest themselves.”

Is the work of professors in the biology department really so trivial that they should find role models in their students by taking up activism?

The gun control screed appearing in non sequitur fashion in a journal calling itself Science illustrates two disturbing trends bound to undermine Science in the first and science in the second. (READ MORE: Mass Shootings: The Media Misinformation Campaign)

First, the article represents a corruption of purpose. The total-politics tic, the one that transformed late-night comedy shows into agitprop, nudges a journal from a mission summed up in its very name toward one bizarrely fixating on the anti-science of ideology. Recent articles published under Thorp’s woke editorship include “How a Culture of White Privilege Discourages Black Students From Becoming Physicists,” “Black Scientists Matter,” and “For LGBTQ Scientists, Being Out Can Mean More Publications.”

Second, the editorialist embraces the unscientific idea that reduces all to a “scientific” explanation. In imagining science as the Rosetta Stone of everything, votaries begin to look upon science as a religion, complete with imprimaturs, heretics, saints, sins, and articles of faith. It ranks near impossible to persuade a member in good standing of the Church of Science that applying its methods universally guarantees category mistakes.

Science titles the editorial, “We know what the problem is.” Indeed, we do.

Daniel J. Flynn
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Daniel J. Flynn, a senior editor of The American Spectator, is the author of Cult City: Harvey Milk, Jim Jones, and 10 Days That Shook San Francisco (ISI Books, 2018), The War on Football (Regnery, 2013), Blue Collar Intellectuals (ISI Books, 2011), A Conservative History of the American Left (Crown Forum, 2008), Intellectual Morons (Crown Forum, 2004), and Why the Left Hates America (Prima Forum, 2002). His articles have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, New York Post, City Journal, National Review, and his own website, www.flynnfiles.com.   
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