Gee, the NY Times is anti-gun and science WSJ article

I conducted the largest-ever survey of American gun owners in 2021. The survey outraged gun-control advocates, who believed it could hurt them in court. They proceeded to disparage me professionally and tried to delay the progress of my research without any scientific basis.

The attorneys general of Illinois and Washington started issuing subpoenas for my documents and communications as early as the spring of last year, though I was neither party to nor an expert witness for any of their cases. The subpoenas were broad enough to create legal jeopardy if I didn’t continually turn over ongoing work. As a practical matter, I had to abandon my research for months at a time. After old subpoenas expired, new ones came in.

Journalists from the New York Times and the Trace—an online news outlet funded by gun-control activists—contacted me, armed with politicized talking points identical to those used by the state attorneys general in their subpoenas. These journalists visited my office multiple times while I was on leave. I caught one on camera trespassing at my family’s residence. When the subpoenas turned up nothing of interest, the Times journalist contacted my university, incredulous that I wouldn’t be “eager” to talk with him.

Finally, three days before the Supreme Court decided its latest Second Amendment case, U.S. v. Rahimi, in which I had submitted a friend-of-the-court brief, the Times ran a story attacking me and my research, complete with custom graphics and a podcast. The story included leaks of the high court’s deliberations in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen (2022). Justice Samuel Alitohad cited my brief in his concurrence on that case.

The article insinuated that my survey wasn’t credible because I had served as an expert witness in four firearms cases, some paid. The Times relied on vague criticisms by progressive academics who have themselves taken large sums of money from antigun litigants and advocacy organizations, which the Times reporters failed to disclose.

These included Louis Klarevas, an antigun expert witness in more than two dozen cases, who was paid $480 an hour by the state of Illinois for his criticism of my survey in May; Matthew Miller, who has received more than $1 million in grants from the Joyce Foundation, known for its support of the self-described “most aggressive group in the gun control movement”; and Joseph Blocher, who received grants from Arabella Advisors’ New Venture Fund and its donor organization, the Harold Simmons Foundation. The Times itself describes Arabella as a “dark money” group. It supports activities like “Project Unloaded,” the mission of which is to create a “new cultural narrative that guns make us less safe.”

The substantive criticisms of my work were even more dishonest. The article took issue with the wording of my survey, but the questions were peer-reviewed before being fielded and the complete questionnaire and all data have long been publicly available on Harvard’s Dataverse. I also provided the original questionnaire and all data in 2019 to the state of Vermont, where I ran my pilot survey. The article tried to cast doubt on the survey’s sampling, but it was a representative sample of 54,000 Americans conducted by a professional survey firm used by researchers at such institutions as Stanford, Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The Times article insinuated that I hid my funding, compensation and expert-witness work. But my funding has been fully disclosed, in accordance with academic practice, in every journal article accepted for publication. I fully disclosed my compensation, in accordance with legal practice, in the Vermont case. And I have listed my prior expert witness work in subsequent expert reports submitted to courts.

Perhaps strangest of all, the article calls my data “cherry-picked” because I separately listed examples of several affirmative replies to an optional free-response question. In fact, every summary statistic reported in my papers analyzed all survey data unless explicitly noted as part of a transparent methodology.

My survey results are hard to refute because they line up with other independent surveys from Pew and Gallup at the national level. The Times tried anyway. The article dismisses as implausible my finding that Americans use guns to defend themselves 1.67 million times a year, but that point lies squarely within the range of previous findings. As noted in a 2013 National Academies report, commissioned by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention during the Obama administration, “Almost all national survey estimates indicate that defensive gun uses by victims are at least as common as offensive uses by criminals, with estimates of annual uses ranging from about 500,000 to more than 3 million.”

Why would the Times run such a disparaging story on me and my work? Simple: To warn off other academics thinking of doing similar research, and to influence courts where states are losing on the merits. They want to pressure judges overseeing gun cases to ignore objective data and to allow further harassment of me.

The Times and other outlets are signaling that they will cancel academics who state inconvenient facts. Progressive law clerks and state lawyers are violating longstanding norms and laws in service to political agendas. Many journalists carry water for these causes by running poorly sourced articles larded with dishonest accusations. Those of us who want to foster an evidence-based public-policy discourse should reject these tactics, and courts should take note of them.

If these are the strongest criticisms that can be made of my survey after years of digging, it should make us more confident in the results. If these reporters want to uncover a well-funded, ideologically motivated plot to undermine objective firearms research, they need only look in the mirror.

Mr. English is an assistant professor at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business.

14 Likes

Keep up the good work, Mr. English. The facts and science are on your side. The left is the party of propaganda and lies.

All Americans are entitled to the basic human right of self defense.

11 Likes

Yes sir! And welcome to the community @RICHARD941! Glad to have you here. :us::us:

6 Likes

Hello and welcome @RICHARD941

5 Likes

@RICHARD941 Welcome to the community!

4 Likes