The Gun-Control Machine Really Hates This Georgetown Researcher

posted on July 2, 2024

For the crime of running a huge survey on defensive gun use in the U.S. that was not forced into the narrative structure of today’s gun-control activism, William English, an assistant professor at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, has been subpoenaed, attacked in The New York Times and by many other “mainstream” outlets and, basically, pilloried in order to, as he put it in The Wall Street Journal, “warn off other academics thinking of doing similar research, and to influence courts where states are losing on the merits.” 

English supervised the 2021 National Firearms Survey. Data from the survey of 54,000 American adults estimated that citizens use their guns defensively about 1.67 million times annually; and, indeed, the survey found that “in most defensive incidents (81.9%) no shot was fired.”

To gun-control activists in politics and the media, this finding had to be marginalized, shunned, cancelled, and chased from polite society. They don’t want people to know that law-abiding Americans do need their freedom.

The opinion article by English is titled “Antigun Activists Ambushed Me.” In it, he says, “The survey outraged gun-control advocates, who believed it could hurt them in court. They proceeded to disparage me professionally and tried to delay the progress of my research without any scientific basis.”

English says that the “attorneys general of Illinois and Washington started issuing subpoenas” for his “documents and communications” so that he “had to abandon [his] research for months at a time.”

Meanwhile, members of the media contacted him “armed with politicized talking points identical to those used by the state attorneys general in their subpoenas.”

Then came the media attacks on his research, but they could not find any actual problems. English’s survey questions had been peer reviewed and the complete questionnaire was made available on Harvard’s Dataverse. He had also used a professional survey firm that is also “used by researchers at such institutions as Stanford, Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.”

Still, the attacks on his “inconvenient” (to the gun-control activists) data continued without finding any actual problems.

“My survey results are hard to refute because they line up with other independent surveys from Pew and Gallup at the national level,” said English.

Indeed, they do. For a comprehensive analysis of research studies on this topic, check out this analysis from David Kopel, research director of the Independence Institute.

So why aren’t these members of the mainstream media just ignoring English?

“The Times and other outlets are signaling that they will cancel academics who state inconvenient facts,” wrote English. “Progressive law clerks and state lawyers are violating longstanding norms and laws in service to political agendas. Many journalists carry water for these causes by running poorly sourced articles larded with dishonest accusations. Those of us who want to foster an evidence-based public-policy discourse should reject these tactics, and courts should take note of them.”

In the end, English says that if “these reporters want to uncover a well-funded, ideologically motivated plot to undermine objective firearms research, they need only look in the mirror.”


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