Last month when I went out for my AT-4 class I met Howard Nemerov. I bought directly from Howard a copy of his book: Four Hundred Yeard of Gun Control… Why Isn’t It Working?. I finally cleared it off my reading list and wanted to write down my thoughts on the book. Note that the following is my own opinion. I only met Howard the once, do think he’s a nice guy, but I’ve no vested interest one way or the other regarding his book.
It’s important to remember that Howard originally was a tried and true gun control supporter, but converted. In his own words:
I set out to find the answer, if possible, when I couldn’t easily rebut a law enforcement client who was clearly for civilian firearms ownership, and what I found surprised me and led to my conversion. The idea that I set out to prove a predetermined conclusion makes me appear to be a biased researcher. I began with questions at the outset: Does gun control benefit society? Are women safer in countries with civilian disarmament? Did violent crime rise or fall after gun bans are enacted? Are the conclusions and sound bites promulgated by gun control and pro-gun proponents credible? What do their data sets show, when examined in toto? If their data sets do not corroborate their conclusions, then is their agenda valid? I made one predetermined decision: I would not accept numbers, or even sources, from gun-rights proponents; everything they claimed I would rebut or corroborate using government sources or sources that were cited by––and therefore validated by––gun control organizations. Then I gathered data and saw where the preponderance of the data led. This created the conclusion. That’s the way investigative research was taught to me.
This book is the end result of his extensive research.
To that end, the book actually reads like research. It’s not loaded down with emotional appeals, with how Howard feels about the topic. There’s no drama. As a result, the book can be a little dry and hard to read because it’s packed cover to cover with data, statistics, analysis, citations (I did find myself nodding off at times because the sheer volume of numbers and statistics is well… boring). In fact, the book lists 257 pages, 25% of which are pure tables of data and citation endnotes. So you can’t expect to pick up this book and find it to be some dramatic, engaging read, unless data and statistics really turn you on. But that’s exactly the point: there’s no drama, just the facts, ma’am.
The book looks at the history of gun control (and its racist roots). It looks at the common reasons given for why we need gun control. It looks at the politics of it all. It looks at the media handling of it. The book works to cut through all the myths and hersay, backing it up with facts and figures. Howard shows how the gun control lobby twists and distorts, avoids, and flat out lies and works to perpetuate falsehoods all to keep itself going. It’s quite a read.
What I find valuable about having Howard’s book is that it provides a great reference. You want the facts? You want the data? Here it is.
What I’d like to see now are a couple things. First, I’d like to see some anti-gunners read this book. I’d like to see what their reaction is and if it changes anything for them. To me, when you get presented with this much fact, with this much overwhelming evidence, I cannot see how someone could rationally deny it. But yet I know that will be done. Second, I’d like to see someone take Howard’s book to task. Not some biased attempt to discredit it, but just as Howard set about performing scholarly research, it now needs further research to be done on the work itself to test it, either to properly validate it and lend further support, or to find holes or flaws. That is, let the scholarly study continue. I’d like to see that happen and what comes from it.
It’s welcome to see such a work of research being done and published. Now to get more people to read it, and maybe, just like Howard was won over by the facts, maybe some others will be too.