From New on MIT Technology Review: The Scientific Case for Outlawing Guns

A new study suggests that U.S. laws should go further to limit gun ownership and improve enforcement.

Efforts to pass new federal gun control laws in the aftermath of the Newtown massacre are making progress, while the NRA has argued that arming more citizens, even teachers in schools, is the answer to stopping gun deaths.

Two researchers, an evolutionary biologist and a mathematician at University of California, Irvine, have now stepped back from the emotional debate and taken a dispassionate look at which kind of gun policies would save more lives, both in a one-on-one attack (as in a homicide) and in a shooting in a crowd (as in a movie theater or mall). 

Their findings suggest that President Obama, who has said he supports the right for private individuals to own a gun, is not going far enough if he wants to prevent the greatest number of gun-related deaths.

The study starts by showing that the optimal survival strategies could be either of the extreme approaches: a total ban on private gun ownership, or a policy allowing anyone in the general population to get a gun.

Which of the two save the most lives in practice depends on a few key parameters that are at the center of the gun debate: how effectively illegal gun purchases are stopped; the fraction of people who purchase guns legally and also carry them around; and, finally, the extent to which a gun is effective at stopping an attacker. In mass shooting scenario, this also depends on the “efficiency” of the shooter’s weapon compared to any weapons in the crowd.

from New on MIT Technology Review

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