You’ve heard this a thousand times — on TV or the radio, in a bar, at church or a conference, even on your telephone. It’s all the same: Someone attempted to prove guns or something about guns is absolutely good, or bad, based on some monster statistic.
Not only did it fail to prove the point, someone on the opposing side came up with another figure — just as high and mighty — from as indisputably good a source as the first guy, to positively crush the argument. But that’s right; he crashed and burned just as badly. Neither number negated the other to win the day.
Statistics don’t seem to work in the gun debate. In fact, they don’t seem to work well at all in most social, cultural, ethical or philosophical struggles — that is, political wedge-issue debates.
Somehow, no matter how good your numbers are, they don’t convince anyone except yourself. Yeah, they feel good to have, and you love having them, finding new ones and then cataloging them mentally. It’s especially great to recall them at a moment’s notice and use them to trounce someone in a rant.
It seems like the numbers should be the be-all and end-all, and should settle matters. But they don’t. This debate rages on, doesn’t it? Prof. John Lott did amazing statistical work, and settled some of these issues once and for all. His studies turned out to be accurate and above reproach, and the other side, well, they just went their merry way, seeking to destroy the right to keep and bear arms. Why is this?
Human rights are not subject to cost-benefit analysis. Statistics aren’t a proper gauge in this arena. This argument is better suited to analysis on moral, legal, logical, philosophical, historical, humanitarian, ethical, judicial and religious grounds — words, not numbers. It’s based upon civil rights and your unalienable right to survive, not on fungible figures manipulated to make points and support agendas. In this sense, it doesn’t matter what the numbers are.
There’s no rational way to assign values to lives and rights, and then do math based on it, so numbers don’t count for much here. If 99 percent of the public believes something about your right to defend your family, what does it mean? To borrow a phrase, if it saves one life, can you morally deny a person to life?
Furthermore, both sides have numbers and they don’t match. For some fun, put two statisticians in a room and let them have at it. There are numbers to support every position, making statistical arguments — especially on wedge issues — almost worthless. Just find out who supplied the numbers, and you’ll already know what the numbers will prove.
This lack of veracity in numbers is a field unto itself. Politicians have become inured to it. When they spout numbers, they know damn well they’ve been pitched hard from all sides, and have picked the numbers from the side they want to support. Accuracy isn’t an issue. “According to the Violence Policy Center … ” right — we can see your eyes roll from here.
Truth? Forget About It
People aren’t looking for truth; they want to win. Anti-rights people aren’t interested in learning the truth about guns — they don’t care about your numbers, or whether they’re right or wrong. The evidence could be overwhelmingly on your side (and it is). They just hate and fear guns and want them to go away. They are irrational (hoplophobic) about it. Your numbers bounce off them. Statistical approaches are wasted on them. If they cling to any numbers it’s only those to bolster their fears and help them rationalize their desire to rid the world of these horrible things. “Every 32 minutes … ” go ahead, roll your eyes again.
It isn’t about truth or numbers; it’s about surviving in the jungle. The right to keep and bear arms without infringement isn’t due to, and shouldn’t be limited or influenced by, statistics on crime, accidents, armed households, ammo sales, caliber performance, incarcerations, self-defense incidents, numbers of permitees … anything.
There are no valid statistics on the core issue of whether you can morally and legitimately protect yourself or others from crime or death. If more or fewer gun owners, carrying this or that, have some measurable effect on something — your rights are immune to it. Your behavior might change, but not your rights.
Mind The Sales Pitch
Surveys and stats are a subterfuge — it’s all about accumulating power against freedom. When you read or hear about new surveys and stats, especially from the so-called “news” media and politicians, realize this: You’re not getting facts, you’re getting pitched. Those numbers have been developed by someone with an agenda, paid for by someone seeking a result and promoted by someone who decided the numbers work for them.
The Brady’s do not promote numbers to support the NRA, and vice versa. “News” people actively suppress numbers showing guns stop crime. Did you see those stats at the beginning of this column? Even when numbers make a difference — are totally newsworthy and happening constantly — they hide them. Numbers don’t lie, but the liars can figure.
Alan Korwin invites you to write him or see his work at www.gunlaws.com.
By Alan Korwin