After his daughter was shot and killed on live television, Andy Parker, the father of slain WDBJ journalist Alison Parker, vowed to fight for gun control laws in Virginia. A few days later, a prominent member of the NRA suggested Parker might want to calm down.
On August 30, four days after the shooting, Colion Noir, a news host for the NRA, posted a video response in which he suggested Parker was being emotional by advocating for gun control: "Sometimes in a fight we can become so emotional everyone and things starts looking like the enemy, even if they're there to help us."
In an interview with CNN's Carol Costello posted by Media Matters, Parker responded, stating, "To suggest that we shouldn't be emotional is insulting and disingenuous. … I want the nation to know I'm not trying to take away anybody's guns. I'm for the Second Amendment, but we have to do something to prevent these shootings from happening by crazy people."
It is of course incredibly insulting to tell a father whose daughter died in a shooting just a few days before to stop being "so emotional." But if cold empirical analyses are what you want in the gun policy debate, there's still a lot of evidence for gun control laws.
More guns mean more deaths, and more gun control means fewer deaths
Whether at the state or country level, studies reviewed by the Harvard School of Public Health's Injury Control Center have consistently found that places with more guns have more deaths after controlling for variables like socioeconomic factors and other crime. "Within the United States, a wide array of empirical evidence indicates that more guns in a community leads to more homicide," David Hemenway, the Injury Control Research Center's director, wrote in Private Guns, Public Health.
Other research has also found that more gun control can lead to fewer deaths. When economist Richard Florida took a look at gun deaths and other social indicators, he found that higher populations, more stress, more immigrants, and more mental illness didn't correlate with more gun deaths. But he did find one telling correlation: States with tighter gun control laws have fewer gun-related deaths.
"The map overlays the map of firearm deaths above with gun control restrictions by state. It highlights states which have one of three gun control restrictions in place — assault weapons' bans, trigger locks, or safe storage requirements," Florida wrote in the Atlantic. "Firearm deaths are significantly lower in states with stricter gun control legislation. Though the sample sizes are small, we find substantial negative correlations between firearm deaths and states that ban assault weapons (-.45), require trigger locks (-.42), and mandate safe storage requirements for guns (-.48)."
It is entirely possible for somebody to look at these figures and conclude that gun rights are still too important to restrict. But when looking at the data, it's all very suggestive in one direction: More guns mean more deaths, and more gun control means fewer deaths. And there's nothing emotional about that.