Here’s What AI Says About Gun Control

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posted on April 6, 2024
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While the old saying “garbage in, garbage out” has been around a lot longer than artificial intelligence (AI), it seems to be an especially poignant way to describe AI concerning politics and gun control.

Sure, AI is, indeed, “artificial.” However, it’s not necessarily “intelligent,” as it simply uses information available to it to form conclusions, no matter how unreliable that original information might be.

To that point, recent research by John Lott, founder and president of the Crime Prevention Research Center, has revealed that AI has a distinct bias concerning guns, gun control and crime. Lott set out to determine how AI chatbots handle questions on guns, crime, and public-safety issues, and the results are disheartening, although not entirely unexpected.

Before looking at the results, a look at the methodology is in order. According to his commentary, Lott asked 20 chatbots whether they strongly disagree, disagree, are undecided/neutral, agree, or strongly agree with nine questions on crime and seven on gun control.

The crime questions addressed topics like bail reform, reduced criminal penalties, conviction rates, and prison sentences. The questions on guns included the topics of gun “buybacks,” concealed carry, so-called “assault weapon” bans, safe storage, “universal” background checks, “red flag” laws, and whether any countries with a complete gun or handgun ban experienced a decrease in murder rates.

What Lott learned was that there is a distinct Left-leaning bias on questions concerning crime. And on questions about gun control, the news wasn’t much different.

“The leftwing bias is even worse on gun control,” Lott reported. “Only one gun-control question (whether gun buybacks lower crime) shows even a slightly average conservative response. On the other hand, the questions eliciting the most liberal responses are background checks on private transfers of guns, gun-lock requirements and red-flag confiscation laws.”

Lott also named a few names in his discussion of the study.

“Only Elon Musk’s Grok AI chatbots gave conservative responses on crime, but even these programs were consistently liberal on gun-control issues,” he reported. “Bing is the least liberal chatbot on gun control. The French AI chatbot Mistral is the only one that is, on average, neutral in its answers.”

Lott further reported that, for background checks on private transfers, all the chatbots that answered expressed agreement (15) or strong agreement (3). Similarly, all the chatbots either agreed or strongly agreed that mandatory gun locks and red-flag laws save lives.

“There is no mention that mandatory gun lock laws may make it more difficult for people to protect their families,” Lott said. “Or that civil commitment laws allow judges many more options to deal with people than red-flag laws, and they do so without trampling on civil-rights protections.”

The study further revealed that 11 of the programs cited Australia as an example of where a complete gun or handgun ban was associated with a decrease in murder rates—despite the fact that neither was completely banned in that country.

“Australia’s buyback resulted in almost 1 million guns being handed in and destroyed, but in the years that followed, private gun ownership once again steadily increased, and the ownership rate now exceeds what it was before the buyback,” Lott reported. “In fact, since 1997, gun ownership in Australia grew over three times faster than the population, from 2.5 million in 1997 to 5.8 million guns in 2010.”

As NRA Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) wrote regarding AI and gun control, this anti-gun leaning can be dangerous to an honest conversation about the gun issue.

“As the use of AI spreads beyond applications in marketing/sales to research and content creation, such biases-rehashed-as-truth are liable to become much more influential and difficult to challenge,” NRA-ILA concluded. “This ‘digital gaslighting’ makes it all the easier for gun-control proponents, elected or otherwise, to exploit AI biases to justify ‘assault-weapon’ restrictions and bans, background checks on private sales and transfers, ‘red-flag’ laws, and similar measures, and to discount evidence that doesn’t follow their agenda.”

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