Unless you’re just awaking from a deep coma, you’ve heard about the recent Colorado theater massacre. Click here if you want some background; but I’m not going to rehash it all here.
I’m not trying to minimize the horror of this matter or add an insensitive touch to the indescribable anguish the families, friends, and acquaintances of those either murdered or wounded must feel.
For the families and other loved ones of those murdered, the devastation has been personal and its affects will be long-lasing… entire lifetimes, actually.
Of course the passage of time will ease their pain. And although it will never let them forget the ones they lost, it will provide the scar tissue the human brain needs in order to learn how to live without them.
But, for the rest of us, although our sense of loss and concern is sincere, it is nevertheless clinical; it’s another set of gun violence statistics for us to absorb and talk about until either time diminishes the impact or something even more horrendous comes along.
So, my point in bringing it up in this week’s posting is to address all the rhetoric that inevitably follows such incidences: relentless coverage of it all by hordes of TV talking heads, endless pontification by an army of talk-radio pundits, analysis by the blogosphere (including this one), and a litany of brain-dead tweets by an exponentially expanding brigade of Twitter-Twits.
First, please notice that it isn’t that our politicians aren’t talking about the Colorado massacre; they most certainly are talking about it. However, they’re talking about it within the usual safe political pandering venues: “we feel your pain” and “self-professed righteous indignation.”
But, also as usual, they are woefully short on solutions—and neither side of the aisle is willing to touch gun control… not even remotely! Other than a few Righties trying to goad some Lefties into bringing it up… DEAD silence. Not even Nancy Pelosi is THAT dumb.
At the outset of this posting, I want people to know that I am AGAINST gun control for three basic reasons.
First, the U. S. Supreme Court has ruled that our 2nd Amendment Right to gun ownership and our righteous use of them is an independent PERSONAL right and NOT a functionally-based one entirely contingent on a voluntary or obligatory military obligation.
Second, outlawing guns will not end gun violence. We will not be seeing any massive conga-lines of criminals heading for the nation’s police stations in order to surrender their guns. Outlawing them will not even put a dent in criminal acquisition and use of guns.
All it will do is violate the 2nd Amendment of the U. S. Constitution by taking away law-abiding citizens’ rights to own guns and use them for righteous purposes, not the least of which is the protection of themselves, their families, and others in need of protection.
As well, relative to this second reason, I am 100% in favor of a state’s right to ban duly convicted lawbreakers from owning ANY deadly weapon, including GUNS.
The third reason I’m against blanket gun control is purely academic. For close to 40-years of my life—up until my retirement in January of 2003—professional research was my primary function.
And, for people who do this for a living, an integral knowledge of inferential statistical methods is critical to professional survival. We learn—early on in our careers—a critically important skill: identifying false pattern recognition.
As a result and keeping my emotions out of the picture, I view gun statistics differently than those who incessantly call for a blanket-disarmament of the American people.
The problem with most gun violence statistics is that they tend to be all-inclusive.
Whenever people read gun violence statistics, they assume that all those numbers come from people shooting other people. But, this is rarely the case. Politifact.com recently provided a great analysis of this.
The FBI numbers for 2011 have not been published. But in 2010, the numbers came to about 13,000 violent deaths, of which about 8,500 were attributed to guns. However, about 3,600 of those were INTENTIONAL suicides and about 900 others were ACCIDENTAL suicides.
Regardless, there is no question that whenever we look at raw absolute numbers, gun-related violence in this country is very high. But, on the other hand, absolute numbers, more often than not, fail to paint the whole picture.
America is the THIRD largest country on the planet in terms of population. But, in terms of per capita LEGAL gun ownership, the United States leads to world in overwhelming numbers.
My goodness, based merely on my late father-in-law’s weapon collection—he could have held the entire former Soviet Union at bay all by himself for at least two years before he would have run out of ammunition.
In point of fact, when I consider the number of gun-violence incidents in this country as a percentage of the total number of guns in the hands of its citizens, it comes to about 0.000027%.
And, of this number, over 97% of the homicides are being committed by criminals intentionally killing innocent people, and NOT by law-abiding people owning guns for their own righteous reasons, including the right to protect themselves.
Finally, let me put a perpetually raging hissy fit between the pro-gun advocates and the NO-gun proponents back into the realm of statistical inference. I’ve actually run these statistics for a few groups throughout this country.
The argument by the pro-gun set that gun proliferation among law abiding people REDUCES crime in general AND the counter argument that a blanket gun proliferation INCREASES gun-related crime specifically is—and I sincerely apologize for using such a highly technical descriptive term—pure bullshit.
Many factors cause crime reductions. But statistically, even though a well-armed society may play a role, the best relative confidence level regarding such a contention is between 50% and 53% due simply to the difficulty involved with identifying false patterns.
On the other hand, one of the easiest things to track relating to gun crime increases is what happens to the crime rate whenever a given state makes it easier for law abiding folks to own and carry guns.
So far, there are no noticeable increases in gun-related crime, let alone any SPIKES in in that statistic. And, the associated relative confidence level of this assertion ranges between 96% and 98.6%.
And please note, as well, that these comparisons are relative to this country ONLY. Comparing the United States gun statistics to other countries is statistically meaningless and a sheer waste of time.