The argument goes that because we currently target money to those in need, by spreading out existing revenue to everyone instead, those currently targeted would necessarily receive less money, and thus would be worse off. Consequently, the end result of basicincome could be theoretically regressive in nature by reducing the benefits of the poor and transferring that revenue instead to the middle classes and the rich. Obviously a bad idea, right?
The problem is that those who make this particular argument are building somewhat of a straw man, not only because of the blanket assumptions they are making around a very specific tax-neutral design, but also because they aren’t publicly acknowledging just how poorly our present means-tested programs are targeted by virtue of their applied conditions, and just how unequal one dollar can be to one dollar, however counterintuitive that may seem.
As a criminologist, I have reviewed recent research in hopes of debunking some of the common misconceptions I hear creeping into discussions that spring up whenever a mass shooting occurs. Here’s some recent scholarship about mass shootings that should help you identify misinformation when you hear it.
#1: More guns don’t make you safer
A study I conducted on mass shootings indicated that this phenomenon is not limited to the United States.
Mass shootings also took place in 25 other wealthy nations between 1983 and 2013, but the number of mass shootings in the United States far surpasses that of any other country included in the study during the same period of time.
The U.S. had 78 mass shootings during that 30-year period.
The highest number of mass shootings experienced outside the United States was in Germany – where seven shootings occurred.
In the other 24 industrialized countries taken together, 41 mass shootings took place.
In other words, the U.S. had nearly double the number of mass shootings than all other 24 countries combined in the same 30-year period.
Another significant finding is that mass shootings and gun ownership rates are highly correlated. The higher the gun ownership rate, the more a country is susceptible to experiencing mass shooting incidents. This association remains high even when the number of incidents from the United States is withdrawn from the analysis.
My study also shows a strong correlation between mass shooting casualties and overall death by firearms rates. However, in this last analysis, the relation seems to be mainly driven by the very high number of deaths by firearms in the United States. The relation disappears when the United States is withdrawn from the analysis.
#2: Shootings are more frequent
A recent study published by the Harvard Injury Control Research Center shows that the frequency of mass shooting is increasing over time. The researchers measured the increase by calculating the time between the occurrence of mass shootings. According to the research, the days separating mass shooting occurrence went from on average 200 days during the period of 1983 to 2011 to 64 days since 2011.
What is most alarming with mass shootings is the fact that this increasing trend is moving in the opposite direction of overall intentional homicide rates in the U.S., which decreased by almost 50 percent since 1993 and in Europe where intentional homicides decreased by 40 percent between 2003 and 2013.
#3: Restricting sales works
Due to the Second Amendment, the United States has permissive gun licensing laws. This is in contrast to most developed countries, which have restrictive laws.
According to a seminal work by criminologists George Newton and Franklin Zimring, permissive gun licensing laws refer to a system in which all but specially prohibited groups of persons can purchase a firearm. In such a system, an individual does not have to justify purchasing a weapon; rather, the licensing authority has the burden of proof to deny gun acquisition.
By contrast, restrictive gun licensing laws refer to a system in which individuals who want to purchase firearms must demonstrate to a licensing authority that they have valid reasons to get a gun – like using it on a shooting range or going hunting – and that they demonstrate “good character.”
The type of gun law adopted has important impacts. Countries with more restrictive gun licensing laws show fewer deaths by firearms and a lower gun ownership rate.
#4: Background checks work
In most restrictive background checks performed in developed countries, citizens are required to train for gun handling, obtain a license for hunting or provide proof of membership to a shooting range.
Individuals must prove that they do not belong to any “prohibited group,” such as the mentally ill, criminals, children or those at high risk of committing violent crime, such as individuals with a police record of threatening the life of another.
Journalists sometimes describe mass shooting as a form of domestic terrorism. This connection may be misleading.
There is no doubt that mass shootings are “terrifying” and “terrorize” the community where they have happened. However, not all active shooters involved in mass shooting have a political message or cause.
For example, the church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina in June 2015 was a hate crime but was not judged by the federal government to be a terrorist act.
The majority of active shooters are linked to mental health issues, bullying and disgruntled employees. Active shooters may be motivated by a variety of personal or political motivations, usually not aimed at weakening government legitimacy. Frequent motivations are revenge or a quest for power.
#6: Historical comparisons may be flawed
Beginning in 2008, the FBI used a narrow definition of mass shootings. They limited mass shootings to incidents where an individual – or in rare circumstances, more than one – “kills four or more people in a single incident (not including the shooter), typically in a single location.”
In 2013, the FBI changed its definition, moving away from “mass shootings” toward identifying an “active shooter” as “an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area.” This change means the agency now includes incidents in which fewer than four people die, but in which several are injured, like this 2014 shooting in New Orleans.
This change in definition impacted directly the number of cases included in studies and affected the comparability of studies conducted before and after 2013.
Some researchers on mass shooting, like Northeastern University criminologist James Alan Fox, have even incorporated in their studies several types of multiple homicides that cannot be defined as mass shooting: for instance, familicide (a form of domestic violence) and gang murders.
In the case of familicide, victims are exclusively family members and not random bystanders.
Gang murders are usually crime for profit or a punishment for rival gangs or a member of the gang who is an informer. Such homicides don’t belong in the analysis of mass shootings.
Editor’s note: this piece was updated on Oct. 2, 2017. It was originally published on Dec. 3, 2015.
We need government led programs that engage and involve a range of players including adolescents. For this to happen, coordination systems must be in place to engage key sectors such as education, draw upon the energy and expertise of civil society, recognize the complementary role that the public, the private sector and social marketing programs can play, and to meaningfully engage young people.
Some countries have shown us that this can be done. Over a 15-year period, employing a multi-component program including active contraceptive promotion, England has reduced teenage pregnancy by over 50%. This decline has occurred in every single district of the country.
A powerful predictor of children’s ability to learn and succeed in school is their vocabulary size when entering kindergarten, and this 30 million word gap contributes to differences in early vocabulary development. In addition, more recent research has suggested that parental language use could influence child executive function. Executive function skills like discipline, self-control, and planning are critical for future success and health.
It’s the one thing libertarians, lefties, tech gurus and feminists agree on. But does that mean government should pursue it?
Basic income is a simple, radical idea. In essence, it is that a government should give each of its citizens enough money to live on, with no strings attached. What people do with it is entirely up to them.
It could end poverty and the indignity of the welfare state at a stroke, while making mincemeat of red tape and regulations. Or it could turn us into feckless layabouts and destroy the economy. It depends who you ask.
Either way, it has people’s attention. The governments of Finland, Ontario, and numerous municipalities in Holland are launching experiments to test basic income. The charity GiveDirectly is running one in Kenya with 30,000 participants. Y Combinator, a tech industry incubator, is doing its own, secretive trial in Oakland, California. And just this week Scotland committed to several local basic income tests.
Democratic alliance leader Mmusi Maimane says the African National Congress (ANC) has not done enough to include black people in the economy.
Maimane, who addressed supporters at the old Johannesburg Stock Exchange building in Newtown, says the institution is a reminder of how race was used to exclude people of colour.
The opposition leader says the governing party has cemented these divisions by introducing black economic empowerment (BEE) policies that have benefitted a small pool of politically-connected individuals.
Solving the crisis in social care provision for older people is not just a matter of building more care homes, argues Carol Jagger. She explains the various ways in which dependency has changed compared to 20 years ago, and suggests some of the solutions the government should consider.
As winter and the flu season approach, health and social care services are bracing themselves for what has become the inevitable surge in older people falling ill. Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England has already warned that Britain may well experience the same heavy burden of flu cases that Australia and New Zealand are just coming out of. But it isn’t just hospitals that will feel the effect – when an older person who lives alone is admitted to hospital, they may not be able to be discharged as quickly as both sides might like because of delays in organising a package of care. Add to this mix a cold winter and/or fuel poverty, and England and Wales might be in line for another record year for excess winter deaths.
However the crisis in social care provision is not just a winter phenomenon. Part of the problem is the greater numbers of old, and particularly very old, people due to the larger post-war birth cohorts and the steady increase in life expectancy over the last decades. What is most surprising is that there has not been more notice taken of these trends which have been visible for many years. Perhaps it is because some have equated longer life expectancy with a healthier population and, indeed, anecdotally there is a belief that today’s older adults are fitter and healthier than previous generations. But our recent research suggests this is not true.
The fall in the number of homeowners leaves the Conservatives unable to sell capitalism to those with no capital.
For the Conservatives, rising home ownership was once a reliable route to government. Former Labour voters still speak of their gratitude to Margaret Thatcher for the Right to Buy scheme. But as home ownership has plummeted, the Tories have struggled to sell capitalism to a generation without capital.
At the 2017 general election, homeowners voted for the Tories over Labour by 55 per cent to 30 per cent (mortgage holders by 43-40). By contrast, private renters backed Labour by 54 per cent to 31 per cent. As long as the latter multiply in number, while the former fall, the Tories will struggle to build a majority-winning coalition.