Careful with the whole stats argument…thing

 We like to toss out statistics that bolster the pro second amendment position.  That’s something of an oxymoron, really.  I’ve done my share of it, certainly.

For example, there is the decline in our murder rate as gun ownership has gone up.  That’s nice and all, but I heard the other night that if our medical and response training and technology were that of the 1960s, our murder rate would be three times what it is today.  A person must actually die, you see, before it’s actually murder.  I haven’t looked it up (that’s your job – I’m not your servant) but it certainly sounded plausible.  If it’s true, then it means that there is in fact much more violence, but that yet more lives are being saved.  Gun owners couldn’t very well take credit for that.

I’ve been harping on this stats issue, and probably pissing off some people.  It may seem like a subtle point to some, but if so it is a subtle point of crucial importance.

Like Tam said, and I paraphrase; “Even if every other gun owner on the planet tried to kill someone last night; I didn’t, so leave me alone!”

And that’s really it, isn’t it?  As the story goes, Sodom and Gomorrah would have been spared for just one righteous person.

The concept of a right is a purely moral concept, and if you can find where the Bill of Rights was to be dependent on statistics, I’d like you to show me.

The communists hate the concept of unalienable rights, and will use stats as a way of changing the subject– of completely reframing the conversation.  I call them “tweakers” because all they care about is tweaking this and tweaking that, using the force of government ostensibly to get some predicted result in the statistics.

That’s a communist premise, and it stinks right from the get go.  It puts us into disparate groups, each being ruled according to its status.  Statistical arguments alone, either for or against a “right” imply the non-existence of rights by ignoring them.  Conversely, if rights truly exist, stats have no bearing on them, and the discussion is purely about morals– right verses wrong.

Our premise is, or should be, that justice demands the respect of all human rights, all the time, that rights belong only to individuals, just as criminal prosecutions are of individuals.  If you didn’t violate, or attempt to violate, someone else’s rights, you are to be held harmless in all regards.  If there were only one, that is the American principle.  If that ideal is not upheld, you have no rights and in that case your statistics won’t save you.

The communists know exactly how this works, and you all know that they know it, and of course they hate the very concept of rights.  They will ignore it and fall back on statistics.  It’s a pretty clever, evil trick.  I’ll give them that, but what else have they got, being that they’re on the wrong side?

That is where we (I hope) differ.  Not only is the moral rights concept all we need, it is all that can work in the long run to persuade good people.  If we rely on stats, we’re relying on the weather, essentially, because stats, like the weather, are not only very fickle but are subject to interpretation, while rights are eternal.

Sure; bring out the human interest stories– we probably don’t do near enough of that, all told, but start them, and finish them, with the moral Declaration.  There’s not a Republican alive, and very few in the NRA, who can do this, so it’s up to us.

5 thoughts on “Careful with the whole stats argument…thing

  1. Possibly one could use the fall in violent crime to buttress the argument that there is a strong non-medical component to the fall in murder rate.

  2. “I heard the other night that if our medical and response training and technology were that of the 1960s, our murder rate would be three times what it is today. ”

    OK, I hadn’t heard this before so I looked it up.
    http://www.ucrdatatool.gov/Search/Crime/State/RunCrimeStatebyState.cfm
    So, compared with the 1960s, current murder rates are about the same and all other violent crime rates are much higher. To say that 1960s medical care would have a murder rate of 3X what our current rate is, wouldn’t change the overall violent crime rate (approximately 10 aggravated assaults would be moved over to the murder column), and the all of the violent crime rates would still be higher than the 1960s. So I would conclude that we are a more violent society than the 1960s (assuming that reporting of crime/definition of crime has not changed). However, by that same token we are less violent than the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s. In fact we have approached 1960s levels for murder and robbery and trending that way for rape and aggravated assault. Assaults make up the largest component of violent crime so the overall rate basically follows this value.

  3. The thing about the statistics arguments is that those are the ones most likely to win over the fence-sitters and the uninformed or misinformed. Someone who doesn’t think of it as a Right in the first place, or that believes the right statistics can justify the restriction of a Right, is not going to be convinced simply by the idea that Rights are absolute. Additionally, some people either do not believe or are doubtful that 2A Rights should be human rights. Again, these are people that are more likely to be swayed on 2A issues by statistics.

    Once they acknowledge that 2A Rights should be protected for practical reasons (i.e., that the anti-Rights cult’s claims of “more guns = more crime”, “blood in the streets”, etc., are demonstrably false), we can begin approaching them with the idea that it is an Inalienable Right and should be protected for that reason alone. For one thing, at that point most of the work of explaining why it is an Inalienable Right is already done, and they are more willing to listen.

  4. So, statistically speaking speakers rarely actually incite listeners to immediate and violent action, so therefore the First Amendment should be as broadly written as it has been for the last 60 years?
    Statistics have rarely been applied to any of the First Amendment rights, so it would be an eye-opener for statistics to be applied to them, or the 4th or 5th Amendments.
    And what are we to make then, of the fact that statistically speaking few people are put to death wrongly, certainly a lower percentage, even in the evil red states (full of true blue Americans. The blue states are, to be clear, run by Reds), than people imprisoned and released due to developments in DNA matching.
    I can’t find it right now, but John Ross, author of “Unintended Consequences” had a page of proposed answers to gun grabbing anti-liberty hopolophobes that did not contain the insinuation that if statistics showed we’d be safer without the right the right should go bye-bye.
    We don’t accept it with the First Amendment, we shouldn’t accept it with the Second. Remember, more people have been murdered by non-firearm means in the 20th century than have been with firearms.

  5. The problem with this argument is that many gun control advocates are arguing from fundamentally different moral first principles. The advocates of gun freedom (tend to) believe that disarming an innocent person against their will is in and of itself an unacceptable moral cost; advocates of gun control (at least, those who are arguing in good faith) believe that gun control can save lives by reducing the crime rate and/or preventing tragedies like Sandy Hook, and that the moral benefit from this outweighs the moral cost of disarming innocents. To use Haidt’s formulation, gun control arguments prioritize the harm basis, while gun rights arguments prioritize the liberty basis. And this fundamental moral disconnect is not something one can really argue; it’s a personal value which cannot be objectively proven or disproven without circularity. Thus, attacking the factual proposition that gun control will save lives strikes at the same position without trying to argue someone out of the moral position that saving lives is worth disarming innocents—which is usually impossible.

Comments are closed.