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More Guns, Less Crime? Reason/Soho Forum Debate in NYC on Sept. 13

Criminologist Gary Kleck and former head of the Brady Center To Prevent Gun Violence Paul Helmke will debate defensive gun use.

Soho ForumSoho ForumWhile laws that prohibit gun ownership would reduce crimes perpetrated by criminals, that benefit would be more than offset by the foregone opportunities for defensive gun use by victims of crime.

That's the proposition that will be debated at the next Soho Forum, a monthly debate series held at Manhattan's Subculture theater and moderated by journalist and economist Gene Epstein. The debates are Oxford-style, meaning that the audience votes before and after the speakers and the winner is the person who sways the most people in her direction. Reason is a proud to partner with The Soho Forum, which draws around 200 people to each event. Each live debate is filmed and released as a Reason video and podcast (full archive here).

Tickets to the live event cost between $12 and $24 and must be purchased online.

Here's more information on criminologist Gary Kleck, considered the country's foremost authority of the defensive use of guns, and Paul Helmke, the former president of The Brady Center/Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence, which supports stricter gun control.

Gary Kleck is the Emeritus David J. Bordua Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Florida State University. His research has focused on the topics of the impact of firearms and gun control on violence, deterrence, and crime control. He is the author of Point Blank: Guns and Violence in America, which won the 1993 Michael J. Hindelang Award of the American Society of Criminology. He also wrote Targeting Guns (1997) and, with Don B. Kates, Jr., The Great American Gun Debate (1997) and Armed (2001), and, with Brion Sever, Punishment and Crime (2017). His articles have been published in the American Sociological Review, Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, Law & Society Review, Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, and many other journals.

Paul Helmke is the former president and CEO of the Brady Center/Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and three-term mayor of Fort Wayne, Indiana. He is currently a professor of practice at Indiana University's School of Public and Environmental Affairs, and the founding director of the Civic Leaders Living-Learning Center in Bloomington. Helmke's professional interests include law and public policy, civic education and participation, mayoral and nonprofit leadership, urban issues, and gun control. His experience on gun control issues lands him frequent mentions and interviews in national news stories and programs. Helmke received a Juris Doctor degree from Yale University and a B.A. with highest distinction from Indiana University.

Here are details about the event. The ticket price includes a buffet of light fare and access to a cash bar.

Cash bar opens at 5:45pm
Event starts at 6:30pm
Subculture Theater
45 Bleecker St
NY, 10012

Seating must be reserved in advance.

From earlier this year, here's a Reason/Soho Forum debate about whether sex-offender registries should be abolished. Details on participants and vote results here.

Photo Credit: Reason, Nick Gillespie

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • SIV||

    BYOB>cash bar

  • BambiB||

    "The debates are Oxford-style, meaning that the audience votes before and after the speakers and the winner is the person who sways the most people in her direction. "

    I'm a little worried about Gillespie. Two men are debating - but he seems to think a female will win the debate.

  • Rich||

    *** meekly raises hand ***

    Can you say something about the nature of any security to be provided at the event?

  • DaveSs||

    Its in New York City where guns are effectively banned, and carrying them is prohibited unless you are politically connected so whatever possible reason could there be for a need to provide security?

  • Rich||

    I trust that will be cited during the debate.

  • Naaman Brown||

    How many recall news articles about the New York City enforcement of the Sullivan Act touting the fact there are only 25,000 legal handgun permits among a total population of 8,000,000 (and many of the NYC permits are held by retired NYPD to boot)?

    Just below the cut-off line, they usually quote ATF or NYPD (or both) as estimating 1,000,000 to 2,000,000 illegal handguns in NYC. You'd only see that on a slow news day when the paper had a lot of space to fill.

  • OpenBordersLiberal-tarian||

    With Democrats moving toward the Koch / Reason position on immigration, it's only fair we libertarians should move toward the Democratic position on guns. Doing so would not only strengthen the progressive - libertarian alliance, but also put us on the right side of history. Gun fetishists are powerful right now because of the obscene influence of the NRA, but that won't always be the case. A new generation of voters is ready to make sensible gun safety legislation a top priority.

    #LibertariansForGunSense
    #BanAssaultWeapons

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    #StillWithHim
    #InternsToo
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  • TxJack 112||

    Congrats.. you are an idiot.

  • BambiB||

    This is so wide of the mark - I'm thinking you're trolling... unless you think 170 million people slaughtered by their OWN GOVERNMENTS (after first being disarmed by those governments) was the high point of last century.

  • AlmightyJB||

    What's really to debate? Guns are the great equalizer.

  • AlmightyJB||

    When seconds count, cops are only minutes away. Possibly hours if you include the time they wait for all the bad stuff to finish happening. As long as all of the heros go home safe, that's all that matters.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    While laws that prohibit gun ownership would reduce crimes perpetrated by criminals...

    Probably not the newly minted law against gun ownership, it wouldn't. It would likely, as most new laws do, create more criminals out of thin air.

  • sarcasmic||

    Yup. Illegal gun owners, owning guns without permission. Or you could just shorten it to "illegals." Deport the fuckers.

  • Adans smith||

    God made man,Samuel Colt made man equal.

  • TxJack 112||

    A gun makes a 110lb woman and a 200lb man equal if he wishes to harm her.

  • TxJack 112||

    When people fully understand that police do not prevent, but investigate crime, this issue will no longer be debated. The notion that police "prevent" crime is the greatest myth in this country. If police had the ability to actually prevent crime, there would be no crime. The problem is police can only respond when a crime is reported and by the time they arrive, it is usually too late. The core of this debate is very simple. The right of a person, when their life and/or safety is called into question, to decide if they will fight to defend their life or simply cede the decision to the person who is a threat. The anti-gun crowd prefers that the attacker have the right to make the decision if their victim lives or dies whereas the pro-gun crowd prefers the decision be in the hands of the person attacked. The debate is really that simple.

  • sarcasmic||

    When people fully understand that police do not prevent, but investigate crime, this issue will no longer be debated.

    Even then most of the time all they do is take a report and then do nothing else.

  • ace_m82||

    CDC's own stats (they failed to publish because it didn't fit their narrative) show Kleck's stats are close to correct:

    www.reason.com/blog/2018/04/20.....t-plenty-o

    So, the debate is pretty much over for anyone who cares to honestly research the subject*.

    *Ha!

  • Naaman Brown||

    "While laws that prohibit gun ownership would reduce crimes perpetrated by criminals, that benefit would be more than offset by the foregone opportunities for defensive gun use by victims of crime."

    The swap of 400,000 gun crimes for 2,000,000 defensive gun uses is a false benefit/offset offer.

    Laws that prohibit gun ownership would mostly affect the law-abiding.
    _ Currently about 1 out of 10 criminals surveyed who carried or used guns acquired them from retail purchase or trade. 20 years ago, 2 out of 10. 30 years ago the first armed inmate survey showed most acquired guns from "hard to regulate sources in hard to regulate ways". Recently, the biggest source has been drug or street dealers 25%, other gray or black markets 63%.
    _ Gun crime is usually cited as 400,000 to 800,000 per year. ATF NIBIN crime scene matches show it's not uncommon for criminals or gangs to commit multiple crimes in one year with the same gun.
    _ Replacing crime guns to sustain the current crime gun rate would be done by a black market trafficking less than 400,000 guns per year.
    _ Gun prohibition aimed at 65 million owners of 300 million guns would result in both millions of guns entering the used gun market off the books & reluctance by owners to report stolen guns and be costly.
    _ Gun prohibition is not likely to disarm the criminal element.

  • Naaman Brown||

    /2/

    No benefit to offset the loss IF the majority of law-abiding gun owners complied with the gun prohibition.

    Even with total compliance by both sides, criminals would no longer be deterred by the prospect of facing an armed victim. The strong or numerous would have no reason fear to the weak or out numbered.

    The worst result would be a wide-open black market in guns supported by criminals and victims of criminals alike. The war on guns could be like the war on alcohol, war on marijuana, or war on E.C. Comics, more cost than benefit.

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