Over the weekend, I came across this post about gun control. It is simply brilliant. As the author says, “You can have your own opinions, but not your own facts.” And the facts are not on the side of these pro-gun arguments. This is a great read: 10 common pro-gun arguments, blown away by facts. I emailed and asked if I could publish–didn’t get a response…so I’m going out on a limb, just because the information is so good. And I will remove if requested to do so.
You can have your own opinions, but not your own facts.
I think I’m staying on the firearms story because there are two parts of my identity that are stronger than any others: being a Vermonter and being a professional analyst. The first means I neither fear nor loathe guns, which are all over the Green Mountains, but the second means that I can’t stand bogus arguments and lying about data. Well, that and mass murders. Those are really getting annoying, too.
So guys, I’ve been compiling A Children’s Treasury of Gun Arguments with Data Pulled From Somebody’s Butt As Opposed to a Database. What I find fascinating about the gun debate is this chorus of dudes who all say the same thing, each which sound pretty nice in support of their end goal (“Mass murder? I don’t give a crap. Change nothing.”) but which in reality are supported by precisely – now let me count this up – bupkis.
Here’s my master list so far. Have I missed anything?
#1 “This isn’t about guns – it’s about the mentally ill.”
Only 5% of gun homicides are by those with a DSM-V diagnosed mental illness. The other 95% are toddlers shooting their moms, guys at traffic accidents getting pissed and blowing each other away, men shooting their spouses, etc.
#2: “But I need this gun to protect against criminals! What if someone broke into my house?”
The Bureau of Justice Statistics studied 29,618,300 violent crimes from 2007-2011 and tabulated all of the reported “self-protective” behavior. Repelling criminals with a firearm was only 0.8% of all incidents. Yelling and running away represented 26.2%, punching your way out was 22.1% of incidents, and doing nothing was the most popular choice, 43.8% of the time.
When it comes to home invasion, property crime, successful firearm defenses were a mere 0.1% of incidents.
In 2010, for example, there were only 230 justifiable gun homicides, while there were 11,078 criminal homicides. For perspective, that’s 0.02% of the total number of gun deaths of “good guy vs. bad guy” as opposed to “guy killing his eight-year old while he cleans his gun and oops it’s loaded.”
#3: “Gun laws don’t work. Criminals get all the guns they want anyway.”
Nope, everywhere guns are available more freely, they get used more often. When they aren’t around as much, they get used less often.
Gun Homicide rate per country (per 100,000):
United Kingdom 0.05
New Zealand: 0.26
Japan: 0.00 (2-10 per year of 110,000,000 people)
Those countries all have criminals. (Canada: Hells Angels, Japan: Yakuza, UK: Bankers) and yet they miraculously don’t end up with those firearms that aren’t available by the bazillions. In America, where there is the world’s largest civilian arsenal, criminals, toddlers, nutbags, and anybody else can – and do – use guns to kill people. Lock the guns down from a little to a lot and the outcome is better than America’s.
There’s no counter example in the developed world where they have gun control without a significant drop in gun crime while still maintaining an absence of Hitler. Still, when the gun lobby wants to pull a fast one, you’ll see a whole bunch of MYTH! FACT! articles where they throw in apples-to-engine-blocks comparisons because the true believers don’t notice. They’ll chuck in Brazil data or Moldova and say, “they have gun control and it don’t work!” (Also, aren’t developed nations.) Otherwise, they’ll include “violence data” that fails to explain that the UK is counting bar fights and the US is counting just the rape, robbery and murder part.
Anyhow, yeah, restricting guns works, even if you hate the idea with a passion.
#3b: “Gun laws do nothing, etc.”
Hey, why don’t more criminals get automatic weapons in the U.S.? They’re illegal. You almost never see them in crimes. Seems like the gun control might be working there. Just throwing that out.
#4: “Ha ha, libtard! You missed one!!! Look at Switzerland! They have lots of guns, and they have lower gun homicide than the U.S.!”
True enough. However, they have about the highest gun death rate in Western Europe, far higher than their neighbors. Homicide is low, suicide is high (3.0 per 100,000) Moreover, the Swiss government issues all of the guns and keeps all of the ammunition locked up. (They used to let you keep it in the house, but it was too dangerous.) The Swiss Gubmint inspects your home to make sure you are keeping your gun properly. You are in big trouble if you go shooting without the permission of the government.
I am assuming that this is not what you are suggesting for America.
If it is, cool! The Swiss actually have a well-regulated militia! Low taxes too – conservatives should love these guys as role models.
#5: “All the cities they have liberals and gun control, like New York and Chicago, they have the highest gun crime.”
Nope. Those cities are the largest and have the highest numbers, but are on the low end of per-capita. The champs? St. Louis, Detroit, Flint, Bawlmer.
Counter-example: Washington DC – strict gun control (the President lives there, diplomats, yada yada,) yet lotsa drugs and crack and tons of gun homicide, mostly in Southeast and Northeast. Hey, it is an example of gun control without lower crime, though you can say it’s a special case.
LOGIC-FAIL ARGUMENTS ABOUT WHAT TO DO
#5: “Guns are only bad when used illegally. Well, we don’t sue car manufacturers or drug companies when their products are used illegally.”
The state government and local police keep a tight control on automobiles, the former keeping a strict database of who has a car and where they live, while the latter has the right to pull you over while you are traveling freely about and can fine you or imprison you for improper use.
When drug companies put out a bad product, they are immediately fined. The best comparison to firearms would be putting out a product that is fine for most, but which has huge consequences for all of society. The example here is Purdue Pharmaceutical, whose drug OxyContin was fine for “law-abiding” users, but the abuse of which has caused billions of dollars of damage. The state of Kentucky is currently suing Purdue to collect damages – a major precedent.
#5b: “But I’m a law-abiding gun owner! Why should I be penalized by extra laws, like tighter restrictions or being forced to carry liability insurance?”
You’re probably a law-abiding car owner too, but because we all drive, every driver has to carry liability insurance, since the collective threat and likelihood of accidents are so high.
Perhaps you’d be willing to treat weapons like your car. After all, cars have other uses other than killing people.
Either way, we all suffer from poor use of both cars and guns, which kill the same number of people in the U.S. (30,000 or so.) It’s just that we take responsibility for automobiles and regulate them tightly.
#6: “Guns aren’t for killing people.”
Too stupid to dignify with a response.
#7: But I need this gun to oppose the government!
While that’s dangerously close to planning treason, let’s take your argument. First of all, no citizens have opposed a national army *on its home turf* with success since the Revolutionary War and the Haitian Revolution. Since then revolutions usually happen because the people simply refuse to follow a weak, unjust regime and it’s civil disobedience, not armed insurrection (examples: Poland and Estonia at the end of the Cold War.) When things end up as set military battles of armed civilians, things more often resemble Vietnam, Nicaragua, or Syria. This scenario would be a nightmare beyond all measure for America.
HOWEVER, if you still want to do The People versus The Government after all, you’ll be facing Abrams M-1 tanks, Apache AH-64s, cruise missiles, a nationwide phone surveillance network, the Marines, the NAVY Seals, the CIA, the FBI, and the cast of all thirteen seasons of So You Think You Can Dance.
You and your cousin with “tactical” pop guns are not looking good on Vegas odds.
#4b: “But wait, The Military is Good, and would never fire on U.S. citizens. We’d just be using guns against, you know, The Government.”
Then you’re talking about shooting Congressmen and the mail man. That’s either treason or a coup d’état, take your pick. I’ll be asking for The Military to light you up like a Christmas tree. Voting in elections, or if you’re pressed for time, demonstrating in the streets would probably be a much better way to express your political concerns.
If you decide that your gun empowers you to pick and choose which laws you follow, then you cease to be a law-abiding gun owner, and we know how you feel about criminals.
#8: “You meanie! You’re asking for the CDC to study firearms and health! Don’t you know the Jews are all dead because Hitler had gun control?
Gun control in Germany started in the Weimar Republic, well before Hitler. True facts,though, the Nazis did forbid Jews to own guns around the time they made them second class citizens around absolutely everything. Still, Jews were only around 500,000 or 0.75% of the German population in the 1930s. The Wehrmacht numbered over 2 million in the largest military assembled to date. It’s not clear that small arms would have opposed the Panzer divisions with much effect.
#9: “How dare you change anything! This is the Bill of Rights! Original intent!”
This is the most subjective piece, but here it goes.
America had just broken with the British Empire, and had no standing army, no royal regiments, no gold to conscript soldiers. It made sense in this new democracy to empower the citizens themselves to serve as a well-regulated militia. We now have a standing army, a National Guard, and a (sadly) militarized police force. Did the Founders ever envision urban population density like Los Angeles, mass-produced semi-auto rifles, and toddlers blowing each other away as part of this civilian militia?
That’s up to the Supreme Court. It’s above my pay grade. My opinion? Nope.
#10: “This is all about Obama seizing Texas for Kenya!!!”
Did I miss any?
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