It's not my topic, but because numbers and logic do tend to be my topics, gun control comes up again.
When John Lott came out with More Guns, Less Crime, he claimed exactly that. More citizens having access to guns would reduce crime, not increase it. I never read it myself, but I recall from a review that even if true, the result was not large. Even before Volokh Conspiracy produced a great study for me to bookmark, I had been saying that the difference is cultural, not legislative. Northern New England has had the lowest homicide rates since colonial times. (See David Hackett Fischer) The Canadian Maritimes have the lowest rate in Canada. Those are somewhat but not greatly higher than the northern European countries with their very strict gun-access laws which America keeps getting compared to.
Also, the violent crime rate went down in those countries and they passed the gun laws later. That is a not uncommon pattern for many things that societies limit. They only go to strictness when there is a very strong consensus.
I might add in genetic at this point - these days I believe just about everything is genetic - but leave that off for the time being. Violent crime varies enormously by neighborhood, by city, by state, and by country.
Statistically, there is so little mass killing that we can't measure it and draw conclusions from it all that well. Too volatile. Single incidents skew the data very quickly. Because even sports call-in shows gravitate to news items as big as the Las Vegas shootings, I heard a caller again bring up the idea that mass killing is a white male problem. So we have forgotten Nashville and Edmonton already. That was quick. The narrative dominates even the news of a day or two ago.
Conservatives get very quick to accuse that liberals hold this gun-control idea right at hand, ready to pounce whenever there is a new incident. The desire for power, for cultural control, is believed to be the dark motive underneath. I'm sure there are some for whom this is true, and they likely go into government and journalism, so we see more of them. But I know people personally for whom the opposite is true. They side culturally with the gun owners - usually this is family - but believe this law or that one would really help, and think fewer guns overall would also just help, somehow.
I think something else is in play that explains more. I think liberals are looking at what would persuade them, and then using that to persuade conservatives. A very strong currency among liberals is that you should care. This is straight out of all that Jonathan Haidt Moral Matrix stuff. In their own behavior, the have identified - I think correctly - that they are sometimes convinced of the rightness of an action but do nothing about it because they just don't care enough. Then something happens to activate them, and they care more, and they start doing something.
This is also true for conservatives, but I think less so. Much less.
Trying to get other people to care can take many forms. The liberals who get on the news and irritate conservatives so much are largely those who take the hectoring approach. It can be a really punitive superego approach about what bad people you must be, because you don't care, not like us good people. You didn't take the subtle social hints that this is the opinion and the behavior that the good people have, so we have to turn up the heat. It becomes a classic example of that repeating-the-same-action-but-expecting-a-different-result we saw throughout the last presidential election. you just don't get it, a powerful phrase with much meaning.
Yet I don't think they all - in fact I know they don't all, because I can starting listing counterexamples and go on for quite a while - find that approach necessary. By disposition, they would rather appeal to you to care more. They tell heartwarming stories, they show pictures of sad people. Yes, these can be used manipulatively, but I think more often they are simply reading their own hearts and trying it on yours. This poor homeless man did/said something wonderful, so we shouldn't be so quick to reject them and look down on them. That woman you are judging comes from a life of misery you don't know. That is all innocent enough, but things can go wrong very quickly.
First, the stories aren't always true, and this really frosts me. Parables are fine when it's know to be a parable, but when it's presented as something that happened it's like illegal voting. Fiction is fine, but there is an agreement between author and reader that this is what I believe is how human beings do act in these situations. Without that, it turns into those miserably didactic Sunday School stories where the good little girl gave all of her toys to the poor and her friends were all so impressed that they came to church with her next Sunday and learned to love Jesus.
I know, I know, people mean well. They want you to be nice to waitresses, or remember to listen to old people, or whatever. But I don't know if they actually do mean well. These are often politically charged, and carry a secret accusation against all the people who don't believe this is happening every day! When this happens, there is this stream of FB congratulation to the person for being such a good and kind person who really cares. Just for posting. It's almost as if...nah.
Second, even if true, they are chosen anecdotes, and they may pretend to represent a larger percentage of the populace than they really do. NPR does this all the time. When they want to talk about the economy of Thailand, they recite a few numbers and then go straight to the guy who own a bicycle repair shop on a streetcorner. Maybe he's representative, maybe not. Who can tell? He represents what NPR thinks is true, anyway. (I don't think they do this consciously. It is as natural as breathing for them. Which I think is more worrisome.) The same what a good person you are for posting this comes into play here as well. It's like junior high or something.
Eh. I'm tired and my brain is broken. I'm going to do something more enjoyable.