Dan Kahan points to empirical evidence suggesting a sure-fire way to dramatically lower gun homicides: repeal the drug laws.
I now want to point out that in fact, while the empirical evidence on the relationship between gun control and homicide is (at this time at least) utterly inconclusive, there certainly are policies out there that we have very solid evidence to believe would reduce gun-related homicides very substantially.
The one at the top of the list, in my view, is to legalize recreational drugs such as marijuana and cocaine.
The theory behind this policy prescription is that illegal markets breed competition-driven violence among suppliers by offering the prospect of monopoly profits and by denying them lawful means for enforcing commercial obligations.
Here inside the Beltway bubble, the policy discussion does not revolve around reducing the risk of gun homicides. It instead revolves around questions like which gun control regulations will Obama enact by executive order, and which gun control regulations will be voted on in the Congress? Once we know the answers to those questions, we are told, we can then assess the performance of policymakers. The notion that repealing a law might be helpful is an utterly foreign concept here in D.C. Lawmaking and spending money on programs = progress. The media drum beat for new laws was captured when reporter Jake Tapper taunted President Obama at a news conference, “Where have you been?” The taunt was, basically, “You failed to enact new gun restrictions during your first term, didn’t you!?” The implication, understood by all inside the Beltway, is that there are so many proposed laws in limbo because the president and Congress dither.
Note also that the current discussion seems dominated by the phrase “gun violence.” That’s a sleight-of-hand designed to blur the distinction between self-defense and murder. Vice President Biden, for example, has a task force looking at ways to curb “gun violence.” Question: If a police officer had been able to get to the Newtown school sooner and shoot the deranged killer, would anyone say that the killer was a victim of “gun violence”?