Chad Perrin: SOB

29 April 2009

gun control arguments aren’t exactly “rigorous”

Filed under: Cognition,Liberty — apotheon @ 11:04

I’ve seen many, many arguments advanced by gun control advocates over the years. Most of them suffer from some rather extreme failings. Among them:

  1. People will argue that guns are too dangerous because of the number of gun-related deaths. They almost never compare those numbers with the number of deaths by other means, or differentiate between different types of gun-related deaths (e.g., separating self-defense from murder).

  2. They’ll also argue that guns are too dangerous because of the number of gun-related crimes. These crimes may just be any other crime, but with the perpetrator carrying a gun, under some laws where carrying a gun is in and of itself a criminal act when done while committing another crime. Other such crimes may just be a case of someone keeping and bearing arms in violation of local ordinances, regardless of whether the act in question actually exposes anyone to any danger. Aside from those little statistic inflators, they almost never compare those numbers with the number of crimes committed without guns.

  3. They’ll compare crime statistics between two locations, one of which has had guns in wide circulation for a long time and the other of which has not had guns in wide circulation for a long time, that are separated by thousands of miles and significant variations in cultural characteristics. What they should be comparing, if they want to come up with an indicator of whether a change in the law will result in higher or lower crime rates, is before-and-after statistics in areas where gun laws have changed significantly. This eliminates the problem of differing cultures, and focuses on the real point of interest: changing gun laws.

What I have discovered by paying attention to such key factors is:

  1. Where gun control laws have been relaxed, the number of gun-related deaths by murder and accident tend to decrease.

  2. Where gun control laws get stricter, sometimes gun-related crime rates go down, but sometimes they go up. Overall violent crime rates tend to remain constant or increase.

  3. Where gun control laws change drastically, the stricter gun control laws tend to correlate with higher violent crime rates, and the more relaxed gun control laws tend to correlate with lower violent crime rates.

When Florida became the first state to adopt a shall-issue policy for concealed carry permits in a long time, violent crime rates plummeted.

When Kennesaw, GA passed a law making it an official requirement for heads of household to keep and maintain firearms (yes, you can opt out), violent crime rates dropped and remained absurdly low for decades afterward, despite being a rapidly growing “suburb” of Atlanta that has been absorbed by the urban sprawl of Atlanta itself.

If you want to argue for the efficacy of strict gun-control laws in reducing violent crime rates, please focus on the important statistics: before and after numbers for violent crime rates in places where similar laws have been passed, in close chronological proximity to the passage of the law. The less your statistics conform to those requirements, the more likely they are to be skewed by other factors.

Regardless of all that, though, outlawing the ownership of small, inanimate objects in the name of eliminating violent crime is tantamount to imposing a policy of guilt by assumption, where people must prove themselves innocent to be treated as such. There’s simply no ethical justification for outlawing guns while still claiming to adhere to a Western liberal legal ethic, wherein one is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

1 Comment

  1. […] for purposes of determining the effect of gun control legislation is, as I pointed out in gun control arguments aren’t exactly “rigorous”, to compare crime statistics before the passage or repeal of a gun law to those after the passage […]

    Pingback by Chad Perrin: SOB » Statistics 101: US Gun Crime vs. UK Knife Crime — 2 June 2009 @ 01:09

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