From the New York Times…
OVER the past two decades, the majority of Americans in a country deeply divided over gun control have coalesced behind a single proposition: The sale of assault weapons should be banned.
That idea was one of the pillars of the Obama administration’s plan to curb gun violence, and it remains popular with the public. In a poll last December, 59 percent of likely voters said they favor a ban.
But in the 10 years since the previous ban lapsed, even gun control advocates acknowledge a larger truth: The law that barred the sale of assault weapons from 1994 to 2004 made little difference.
It turns out that big, scary military rifles don’t kill the vast majority of the 11,000 Americans murdered with guns each year.
In all honesty it looks as if the author was trying to build up to a “ban handguns” argument, rather than a “don’t ban scary guns” argument. That’s fine, let them turn their focus to handguns. There’s a good reason Handgun Control Inc. changed it’s name to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence–arguing for banning handguns is almost a deadly a political stance as privatizing Social Security, without the benefit of actually being a good idea.
In the deadly force experiments participants (85 percent white) face a life-sized HD video screen on which the stance, clothing, hand motions, objects being held, and race of suspects can all be modified. The subjects are hooked up to brain wave measuring devices and can respond using a laser gun. The press materials from Washington State University detailing the results report:
Participants in an innovative Washington State University study of deadly force were more likely to feel threatened in scenarios involving black people. But when it came time to shoot, participants were biased in favor of black suspects, taking longer to pull the trigger against them than against armed white or Hispanic suspects…
[WSU researcher Lois] James’ study is a follow-up to one in which she found active police officers, military personnel and the general public took longer to shoot black suspects than white or Hispanic suspects. Participants were also more likely to shoot unarmed white suspects than black or Hispanic ones and more likely to fail to fire at armed black suspects.
“In other words,” wrote James and her co-authors, “there was significant bias favoring blacks where decisions to shoot were concerned.”
When confronted by an armed white person, participants took an average of 1.37 seconds to fire back. Confronted by an armed black person, they took 1.61 seconds to fire and were less likely to fire in error. The 240-millisecond* difference may seem small, but it’s enough to be fatal in a shooting.
This hesitation occurred even though the electroencephalograph generally identified brain wave patterns indicating significantly greater threat responses against black suspects than white or Hispanic suspects.
Read the full article at Reason.com.