Freedom ain't free

A short note on “gun violence” and the idiotic tallying thereof

October 4, 2016

We are not gun people in the Blueberry Town household, but neither are we fans of gun regulation that is not closely tailored to solving a specific problem at a reasonable burden, as most proposed gun control is not. And, no, being a lover of freedom your Editor does not believe if it saves one life is ever a reason to regulate anything, even if the object of the regulation is not a fundamental right enshrined in our Constitution. Freedom ain’t free, dude.

So if you believe that if it saves one life is all the reason we need to ban something, carry on. You are unlikely to give up your safety-first authoritarianism on account of this post.

Regardless, one of the reasons we end up with silly gun regulation is that the media is not, in the main, intellectually honest on the topic of “gun violence.” Urban liberals, in particular, have long been irritated that we devote massive national resources to combating terrorism but will not pass “common sense gun control.” This morning’s CNN feed brings us a typical story — American deaths in terrorism vs. gun violence in one graph!

The linked story is especially precious, insofar as CNN published it because “[President Obama] asked news organizations to tally the number of Americans killed through terrorist attacks in the last decade and compare it with the number of Americans who have died in gun violence.”

Seriously. That was the reason. President Obama asks, and CNN is right on it! This approach will pay huge dividends during the next Clinton administration, required kneepads notwithstanding.

But we digress.

Never mind the free-floating factoid that deaths from “gun violence,” however counted (of which more below), overwhelm deaths from terrorism. One cannot leap from that fact to what we ought to do even if one promiscuously traffics in “is/ought” violations in one’s daily life. No doubt more Americans died of “gun violence” in 1941 than at Pearl Harbor on December 7, but that was not a good reason to confiscate civilian guns that year, either.

The smoking gun — if you will — in the story is CNN’s use of the “gun violence” metric promoted by anti-gun activists, of which Barack Obama is now the leading light. It is a grossly inflated number, because it includes suicides, which account for more than 60% of the total per CNN’s own data. Even those of you who deny Hume’s guillotine and believe that the fact that there is “gun violence” inexorably means that we ought to enact “common sense” gun control cannot possibly believe that we will meaningfully reduce suicides even on the small chance that gun control “worked” otherwise.

Wait. You do?

Then consider this: The suicide rate of the United States is 50th in the world, behind such gun-free socialist paradises as France, Finland, Belgium, and Japan, among others. Sure, outright confiscation of all guns in private hands might prevent a small number of American suicides, but the vast majority of that “gun violence” would pretty quickly convert to “rope violence,” “razor-blade violence,” “pill violence,” or “carbon monoxide violence.” Unless, of course, you believe Americans are more easily frustrated in their suicides than, er, the Belgians.

In other words, including suicides by gun with “gun violence” figures to “prove” that we need “common sense” gun control is the tell that you are reading the transmitted talking points of activists rather than journalism, even when the author doesn’t admit that is what she is doing.

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1 Comment

  • Reply E Hines October 4, 2016 at 3:28 pm

    Neglecting suicide by gun and by car, the latter whether by deliberate accident or by CO poisoning from a running car engine in, say, a closed garage, I find per the NYT, gunshot homicides totaled 8,124 in 2014 (the NYT cited FBI numbers), and 32,675 car-caused (because drivers didn’t do that, the cars did) in 2014.

    Cars are 8 times more dangerous to a helpless, un-led American than are guns.

    A grueling 30 second search via Google turned up the datum that there are some 300 million guns in the US, or (my 3rd grade arithmetic calculation) roughly one gun per American. That same harrowing search turned up the parallel datum of 253 million cars and trucks in the US, or (3rd grade again) roughly 5/6 of a car/truck per American.

    Cars are more than nine and a half times as deadly as guns.

    The answer presents itself. If we’re going to pass “sensible gun control laws” to save just one life–and for the children–than we need similarly sensible car control laws. Banning guns (which is the end goal of gun control) will only save those eight thousand or so lives. Banning cars not only will save those nearly 33 thousand lives, think of the associated cost benefits. We can move all those drivers onto public transportation systems–save the climate–and we can reduce the demand on our highways and bridges, reallocating those dollars to green energy–more save the climate–and we can reduce the number of traffic cops needed and reallocate those dollars to local green energy projects–still more save–oh, never mind.

    Eric Hines

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