Readers React

Polls of anti-gun researchers don't indicate scientific consensus

To the editor: Harvard public health Professor David Hemenway's research is a prime example of a scientific determination by a show of hands. ("There's scientific consensus on guns -- and the NRA won't like it," op-ed, April 22)

Without giving any specifics on the studies that the experts used as a basis for their opinions that guns are more of a danger than a benefit, Hemenway wants the reader to believe that there is sufficient scientific evidence for stronger gun control. We will never know whether the studies used flawed data or resulted in biased interpretation. Were the experts' opinions, in turn, partially based on their own "surveys"?

The fact that there was not 100% agreement on any of the questions involving the presence of guns in relation to suicide, self-defense, women's homicide and danger in the home should be enough reason to question the studies.

William Vietinghoff, Thousand Oaks

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To the editor: I've seen misleading statistics before, but Hemenway's "scientific consensus on guns" takes first prize. That's because he was interviewing researchers and not gun owners. These same researchers arrived at their conclusions by reading "scientific" literature.

If Hemenway wanted to find out the true consensus on guns, he should've been asking the people who own them the questions.

I'm sure that most scientists are all for stricter gun control; we don't need another poll to confirm this. But if you ask gun owners whether their homes are safer, I bet 100% of them would say yes.

And that's the poll that counts.

Charles Reilly, Manhattan Beach

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To the editor: This is a free country — to a point. Just as we are not allowed to yell "fire" in a packed theater, we must not be allowed to endanger other human beings by ignoring proven evidence that has resulted in laws that protect us all.

If unvaccinated children are not allowed in public schools, they are still a public danger at local parks or libraries. Likewise, the pro-gun advocates continue to tout opinions not based on fact and that endanger us all.

I applaud The Times and experts like David Hemenway and strongly encourage them to continue educating the public with facts.

Eileen Flaxman, Sherman Oaks

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