In the debate over gun control, it is often difficult to know which so-called “facts” are real, given the conflicting claims that are rampant. Not being able to analyze every claim we hear, it is helpful to identify trustworthy sources.
But what do we do when we learn our faith has been misplaced? I’d long trusted the Snopes.com website to deflate the urban myths I and my friends would find on the web. Unfortunately, I discovered to my dismay that Snopes.com fell for the fake facts peddled by public-health propagandists.
Snopes relegated a paper, “Would Banning Firearms Reduce Murder and Suicide?” that Don Kates and I wrote some years ago, to the status of an urban myth as a result of its periodic rediscovery by reporters who juxtapose our findings with whatever rehashed claims are currently being pushed by public health polemicists. Kim LaCapria, a Snopes reviewer, claims that our paper “was not peer-reviewed, it didn’t constitute a study, and it misrepresented separate research to draw shaky, unsupported conclusions.”
Her criticism is based entirely upon comments made by public health campaigner David Hemenway in 2009 and were repeated in an article in The Trace in 2015. Hemenway has been characterized as having a “‘blinding bias’ that ‘colors his science … and ultimately his credibility as a scientist.’” According to Wikipedia, Snopes.com was created by a Californian couple, Barbara and David Mikkelson, who have been well-regarded for giving even-handed analyses of common rumors. However, their unquestioning reliance upon Hemenway in critiquing our article suggests animosity towards firearms owners.