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Pick Better Statistics

May 28, 2014

I think anyone that read this blog knows my position on gun ownership, and most of you also know that I was polar opposite of my current views on gun ownership less than ten years ago.  So I’m familiar with statistics from both sides of the equation.  I caught this article from Mother Jones tonight though (this looks to be a just post-Newtown article by the way), and I have to comment… the statistics that both sides use have a lot of flaws.  Given the example in front of me, let me make a couple comments:

Myth #4: More good guys with guns can stop rampaging bad guys.
Fact-check: Mass shootings stopped by armed civilians in the past 30 years: 0

So, um, how do you know that the bad guy that the good guy shot wasn’t about to go on a rampage?  This just says that when an armed civilian has the opportunity to intervene, violence is typically deescalated.  I can’t back mine up with statistics, but I can clarify the logic of your dumb statistic.

Myth #5: Keeping a gun at home makes you safer.
Fact-check: Owning a gun has been linked to higher risks of homicidesuicide, and accidental death by gun.

Most of these statistics miss the fact that gun ownership tends to be higher in higher-crime neighborhoods, which would of course have, um, higher crime rates.

Myth #6: Carrying a gun for self-defense makes you safer.
Fact-check: …
• A Philadelphia study found that the odds of an assault victim being shot were 4.5 times greater if he carried a gun. His odds of being killed were 4.2 times greater.

So all those people in high-crime areas carrying a gun (many of them probably illegally) get in trouble in gun fights.  Check.

You could argue I’m cherry-picking the statistics that are dumb here.  No, I was just skimming.  The point is that statistics won’t help if they’re pretty easily seen as just talking points that can’t stand a couple questions.  That goes for the pro side, too, by the way.

My term for stuff like this is: “Term Paper Marketing.”  You decide on your conclusion and then only look for facts that back up your point.  Yea, don’t do that, at least not if you want to try to reason with me.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 23, 2014 10:53 pm

    The attack on “Myth #3,” on “an armed society,’ is also completely false. And the authors refused to provide their data, though the full analysis in the paper shows that liberals are far more likely than conservatives to exhibit rude behavior and act aggressively, in a proportion larger than that for people “who have had a gun in their car at least one time over the past year.”

    Note that the condition says nothing about whether they owned the gun, owned it legally, whether it was in the trunk or the cabin, if it was within reach, or if they were even in the same car at the time. Bad science, but these authors hired by the Joyce Foundation (as well as other Soros groups) have a track record of this. But in the state where this study was done, the grand total of reported incidents of road rage involving the use (even brandishing) of a gun was one. In eight years.

    As an aside, I was amused by one commenter asserting after reading the details that “the executives of the Joyce Foundation should be in jail.” At the time, one of the executives was just leaving his post at the Joyce Foundation (where they had offered to kick him up to chairman) to run for the Senate. Obama ultimately wound up being President, but never gave up the Joyce Foundation’s goal of removing all gun rights from non-government Americans. That is, of course, why he joined.

    They also fund grants and groups aimed at the incitement of racism, the spread of vandalism, and the destruction of education; Bill Ayers’ group is one of the grantees of this organization with almost $1b in last-reported assets.

    Here’s Lott’s commentary on that study:
    http://johnrlott.tripod.com/2006/02/research-on-guns-and-road-rage.html

    ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

    • June 24, 2014 9:42 am

      Nice additions. Thanks, Keith.

      Again, I think statistics cited by either side are not likely to change minds of anyone who actually has details. Every once in a while, someone tosses the, “well, I have x hundred dead children on my side, you can’t argue with dead children,” and that’s where I just stop arguing, since then we’re down to name calling.

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