In the debate over gun control, the public typically receives soundbites—bits and pieces of politicians talking, gun policy experts debating, or sometimes parents, crying. TIME Magazine’s interview with professor of constitutional law, James Jacobs, director of Center for Research in Crime and Justice at New York University School of Law and the author of Can Gun Control Work? goes in-depth into what this criminologist believes could and couldn’t work in helping the fight against gun violence.
The article, A Criminologist’s Case Against Gun Control, is a simple Q & A format-style piece. Written in the wave of anti-gun sentiment after the Planned Parenthood shooting of 2015, the piece explores different angles and perspectives on gun control.
Jacobs, while seeming to be a supporter of stricter gun control, recognizes both sides. He states that a lot of facts about gun control are skewed in order for one person or another to gain more, such as, since the 1990s, there has been a substantial drop in gun violence, despite the number of guns rising by millions between then and now. Another fact he disproves is that most gun-related deaths are suicides, not murders. As he says, “Over and over again one reads that 30,000 people have been killed with guns, but what’s not said is that 20,000 of them took their own lives.” However, he does sum up his entire belief set by saying that there is no easy way to regulate guns and reduce gun violence.
As the interview goes on, Jacobs debunks various solutions that have been presented in the past, such as an assault weapons ban, using the UK as an example, gun registries—although he agrees background checks are necessary, and expanding the range of the mentally ill. The only solution, Jacobs, says, is enforce gun control on people who are more likely to commit gun violence, such as gang members. He believes working in terms of crime instead of gun control in general is more likely to garner support.
Generally speaking, TIME Magazine is a reputable legacy news source. They have history of interviewing powerful people and writing excellent investigative and feature pieces. Here, they clearly state who Professor Jacobs is, so the reader can make their mind up on his expertise level. While there was most likely more questions than what was presented online and the answers that are online are slightly edited for clarity, the reader can safely assume the original intent of Jacobs’ message was not skewed in transcribing this interview. Since the piece is simply Q & A, there is little bias in using Jacobs’ words against him, only choosing the specific questions you want to be chosen.