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Stop ‘insurrection’ threat with gun control: Johns Hopkins report

Paper assesses threat ‘armed insurrectionism poses to democracy’

Lawmakers should pass gun restrictions in order to prevent an “insurrection,” an academic paper argues.

“This report is both an examination and a warning of the threat that armed insurrectionism poses to democracy in the United States,” the Center for Gun Violence Solutions at Johns Hopkins University stated. “It also counters the false narrative that the Constitution creates rights to insurrection and the unchecked public carry of firearms, and rejects the notion that violence has any place in our nation’s politics.”

The center is housed within the Bloomberg School of Public Health, named for former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a supporter of gun restrictions.

“As the events of January 6th showed the world with painful clarity, the threat insurrectionism poses to democracy in the United States is not hypothetical,” the authors wrote in their report, titled “Defending Democracy: Addressing the Dangers of Armed Insurrection.”

The center did not respond to two emailed requests for comment sent in the past week that asked for the motivation behind the report and responses to criticism of it provided by a former Department of Justice economist. The Fix emailed authors Kelly Roskam and Joshua Horwitz, but could not find an email for Tim Carey.

The study’s executive summary notes that the country’s increase in guns is a threat not only to “public health” and “safety,” but also to “the functioning of democracy,” pointing to the “January 6th insurrection.”

The violence was part of “a long line of events in which individuals have sought to use political losses to justify violence or threats of violence to disrupt our government and limit civic engagement,” according to the report.

“These attacks on our nation and democratic institutions are preventable, but not without taking purposeful action,” the report stated. The academic paper outlines what “purposeful action” might look like.

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The authors put forward six policy recommendations.

They included “regulat[ing] the public carry of firearms,” legislation against “paramilitary activity,” and banning guns “in locations essential to political participation.”

The authors also want “Extreme Risk Protection Order laws, otherwise known as red-flag laws, and to “[b]reak the insurrection permission structure by openly denouncing violence.”

But a former DOJ economist who has extensively studied crime and guns criticized the study.

Concealed handgun permit holders are “extremely law-abiding” and make up an insignificant portion of violations, John Lott told The Fix via email.

The Crime Prevention Research Center president said permit holders are convicted of firearms violations at thousandths or tens of thousands of one percentage point,” across the country. He pointed to a study he conducted that was published several month ago.

In particular, Lott took issue with the violence on January 6, 2021 being the basis for any gun regulation. “January 6th was not something anyone supports,” Lott told The Fix. However the evidence would seem to indicate political violence as stemming mainly from progressives he said, pointing to the 2021 Lafayette Square riot and the 2017 riots during President Donald Trump’s inauguration.

He also criticized the recommendation that people not be allowed to carry guns in polling places or government buildings. He shared a study, last updated in 2021 that found “23 states officially allowed people to carry guns in state capitols, and there were no problems reported,” Lott said.

He shared other research he conducted that questioned the value of “red flag laws.”

“If a person is a danger to themselves or others civil commitment laws are much better ways of dealing with these problems,” he told The Fix.

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About the Author
College Fix contributor Brendan McDonald is a student at Thomas More College of Liberal Arts in Merrimack, New Hampshire.