Statistics Don’t Lie, But People Do

Book GunNew to Uncensored Saturdays? Please read the disclaimer.

Otherwise, feel free to jump right to today’s tirade.

Disclaimer:

Saturdays here on Running in My Head are what I call “Uncensored Saturdays” in that I write what I really feel about a particular subject with no regard for tact or certain types of political correctness.

You may not like my point of view.

You may find what I have to say offensive.

And that’s fine.

However, I hope they won’t make you feel less of me or cause you to stop reading my blog on the “creative” days.

See something you don’t like, disagree with, or think I’ve got totally wrong?

Great! Leave a comment; let’s start a discussion.

I consider myself both educated and open-minded. I know why I believe what I do, yet I’m not so stuck-in-the-mud to consider other opinions or the fact I might be wrong.

Ten years ago, I was an authoritarian-leaning Republican; now I’m a centrist independent leaning mainly conservative or libertarian depending on the issue.

That change didn’t come about on its own, it came about because I was willing to listen to others with opposing views.

I’d like to think I still have that open mind.

I only ask you keep the conversation civil.

With that in mind, here we go:


Recently, a friend shared this chart and I saw it on my Facebook news feed:

propaganda gun murders chart
Getting shot
– at work
– at school
– at the movies
Isn’t something people in other developed countries worry about.

Based on my own research, the graphic and its caption originated at a page called “Everytown for Gun Safety” and let’s just say they have a knack for avoiding inconvenient truths.

My friend made this statement:

I’m honestly baffled how people who are against reasonable gun restriction laws and tougher background checks can feel the way they do with statistics like this.

While I addressed the issue directly on their feed, I also knew this would make an excellent topic for today’s Uncensored Saturday.

How can I feel the way I do?

Easy: this particular chart and these particular statistics don’t tell the whole story.

First, while it’s obvious that countries with tight gun control have lower gun crime (the countries listed here have largely outlawed gun ownership), the statistic you really want to look at is either total number of murders or overall violent crime. The graphic implies that reducing the number of guns would reduce murder and other violent crime; this reasoning is false. Other countries with tighter gun control than the United States have per-capita rates equal to or higher than the United States – the most notable being Australia, the oft-touted “utopia” of anti-gun advocates.

Second, this chart simply says “gun murders” meaning it also includes murders with guns owned or obtained illegally – guns that shouldn’t be on the street according to gun laws already on the books. Fact: tighter gun control would not have stopped the recent so-called “massacres” in the United States.

ASIDE:

I mean no disrespect to any families, but not all killings are massacres. A massacre is the indiscriminate and wanton killing of a large number of people. While what constitutes as “large” is up for debate, I personally would not classify the recent tragedies in America as massacres. The Holocaust was a massacre. The Russian pogroms were massacres. However, I realize that hyperbole is an American tradition; after all, it was Paul Revere (yes, that Paul Revere) who stirred up anti-Crown colonial sentiment over the Boston Massacre in which five colonists were killed. In fact, you might recognize his work:

Boston_Massacre_high-res

Back to the Topic at Hand

Many of the guns used in most of the recent killings were purchased at gun stores – not online or at gun shows – while others were stolen from their rightful owners (such as Sandy Hook). As gun stores already run background checks, increased background checks would not have stopped the murders.

Ultimately, criminals will be criminals; deprived of guns, they will carry out their schemes via other methods. See Point One.

Third, I have to balance safety with freedom. TL;DR: I don’t trust government as a whole. I believe the purpose of the second amendment is for the citizens to defend themselves from a tyranny, and a disarmed populace has no final recourse.

Finally, one can make numbers say anything they want. There’s a saying that numbers don’t lie; I counter that the people using numbers do.

I don’t mean to come across as mean, belligerent, or otherwise hostile. I feel the question asked deserves an honest answer – something more than “America!” or “The Constitution!” or other sound bites people like to spout off.

I respect the opinions of others – so long as they’re informed. We can’t make the country work if we’re ignorant of opposing views and treat them with hostility and not the respect and care we expect ourselves.

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12 thoughts on “Statistics Don’t Lie, But People Do

  1. I’m with you that it doesn’t really matter what laws we pass: criminals will be criminals. But I lean libertarian, too, so no surprises there.

    My two biggest issues with the latest shootings are (1) the mental health of the shooters and (2) the media sensationalism. I’d rather see all the outrage and clamoring go towards those two things, rather than it being lobbed at gun owners, most of whom are peaceable and law-abiding.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree on both counts. While I agree that the state of mental health care in the US is decidedly lacking, I also wonder how long before some politician came up with the bright idea that no sane person would want a firearm, so the only person who could own one would be a person who would never buy one in the first place. [I think I just channeled my inner Joseph Heller . . . ]

      How I feel about the media could be a topic in and of itself! Maybe in a week or two.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. But are they criminals before they commit this crime? Many of the more distressing gun incidents recently seem to be by people who are making a statement about their unhappiness, state of mind etc, and unfortunately the tool they are using to make it with – guns – is having a devastating impact.

    If the tool they were using was not mentioned in the Constitution it is clear the opposition to doing something about it would be different.

    For example cars, elevators, toxins, knives etc all have laws around them which are accepted and have a positive impact. It’s about time guns were treated the same.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment! You raise a few good points

      First: no, criminals are not criminals until they commit a crime. If it were otherwise, we’d be living in a state where thought crime is a thing (well, more than it is already) and I’d oppose that, too. I suppose in this case my argument only really works retroactively in that if a person would have committed a crime with a gun, the absence of a gun would not deter them; they’d find another means to their end.

      Second: if people feel they must make a statement with a gun, that is indicative of a failing in some other area; guns are neutral, cannot make value judgments, and cannot of themselves incite violence. It saddens me that when one of these events occurs, the media jumps on the so-called “gun culture” and not the issue which drove the individuals to their violence.

      Third: I know many that would disagree over how much the government control of cars, toxins, and knives constitutes a positive good (elevators are a cost-prohibitive non-issue). While the laws the United States have have proven ineffective in several cases, they are effective in the majority – hundreds of thousands of gun owners did not use guns to commit a crime yesterday. The answer is not “more regulation” but “more responsibility”. Again, it comes down to how much liberty one is willing to trade for security. [Don’t even get me started on the farce known as “Fast and Furious.”]

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hiya

        Thank you for your thoughtful reply. You’ll be pleased to know I sort of agree!!
        Partially agree with your first point, totally agree with your second and almost agree on the 3rd.

        On the first I agree in some instances the absence of a gun would not deter people, however it appears to me from across the pond that the relatively easy access to guns in the US does create bigger problems. We are not seeing here in the UK lots of deaths from other means in schools, malls or cinemas. Perhaps we are wrong to link that to ‘gun access’ but we could also be right?
        On the third point I do actually totally agree about the need for ‘more responsibility’ and am with you on liberty . . Also agree that the behaviour of a minority should not impact on the freedoms of the majority. Unfortunately though many cultures and modern society is moving us away from that. For example it is common sense to wear a safety belt in a car, to not use your mobile when driving and for us all to pass a test before we drive on open roads. Yet individuals are not showing that common sense or taking personal responsibility consequently we need laws to make us all behave appropriately .. hence me thinking the gun laws need to change at least a little bit.
        However I’m not American so accept I am probably biased against whatever the arguments presented to me.
        Becky
        PS Forgot to say excellent post. Really thought provoking, perfect for a Sunday read.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I’m sure American gun laws must seem quite loose to many outside the U.S., but the laws vary from state to state and from city to city. In some places the fees alone may be as low at $75 (included necessary classes and licenses) and others must pay over $1000 just to be considered – and may ultimately be turned down. At least, this was the case in New Jersey back in the 90s. [Note: these figures don’t include the cost of actually purchasing a firearm – which also includes paying for a background check.]

          What bothers me – and I’m not sure how to reconcile it – is the fact Americans have to pay to use a right clearly expressed in the Constitution.

          Thanks for input from across the pond; new insights are valuable insights!

          Liked by 1 person

      2. I think that’s one of the most interesting places to start this debate: what would you trade for perfect security? It’s an unobtainable goal, of course, because humans make mistakes and there’s no such thing as “perfect,” but it lends a lot of insight to hear what people would be willing to sacrifice to achieve a utopia where people don’t harm each other.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I’m discussing this very concept with my Civics class (high school seniors). It’s one of those things to which there’s no clear right or wrong answer – I direct them back to the concept of Social Contract and try to help them see they’re responsible for the future framing of that contract – no matter which direction it takes.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Thoughtful considerations. Thanks. I’m looking at things systemically. The public killings seem to be multiplying like a contagious disease in the US taking place in the midst of world-wide loss of the value of human life. I don’t have answers. I think asking the question is important.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good Question!

      First initial thoughts:

      Changing airport security screening may have prevented further attacks, but I read the TSA is relaxing some of that screening.

      Changing our gun regulations would not prevent the school shootings for two reasons: either the guns were obtained illegally (regulation wouldn’t have stopped them) or the proposed regulation would not have stopped the attacks (i.e. the shooters would have passed the new guidelines).

      I suppose the argument could be made along the lines of “this is why we need a universal ban on personal firearms” to which I reiterate my question: how much individual liberty / freedom are you willing to trade for security?

      I would point to the Israeli model: Israel arms its teachers. Granted, those teachers have also served in the Israeli military; therefore, I would also require extensive training for teachers who carried as well.

      IMO, Gun Free Zones are simply screaming “Attack Here, We’re Unarmed!”

      Like

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