Gun control: excuses, excuses

The Second Amendment is the reset button on the Constitution. But can the Deep State achieve gun control or gun confiscation without enablers in office? Gun control takes that away. Those who seek gun control often use mass shootings to press for it.
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Excuses, excuses. Barack Obama comes from the extreme statist wing of the Democratic Party. Everybody knew that during the 2008 campaign. So on Wednesday evening (June 17), a young man walked into a church, waited for an hour, then pulled out a gun and killed nine people with it. And before the bodies had cooled, Barack Obama called for the same remedy he called for before: gun control. He and other gun control advocates use the same statistics to make their point. Americans own a lot of guns. Americans with guns kill a lot of their fellow Americans. Other countries keep guns out of the hands or ordinary citizens or subjects. So America should do the same. Or should we?

The common gun control statistic

Barack Obama gave the usual gun control litany:

I’ve had to make statements like this too many times. Communities like this have had to endure tragedies like this too many times. We don’t have all the facts, but we do know that once again, innocent people were killed in part because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun. Now’s the time for mourning and for healing, but let’s be clear. At some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries.

Yes, we know. Barack Obama made a statement like that after the Newtown, Connecticut or “Sandy Hook Elementary” Incident. He might as well have said what Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said twenty years ago:

If I could have gotten the votes for a complete, outright ban–Mr. and Mrs. America, turn them all in…

She didn’t, of course. But statists, on both political wings, always call for gun control. They know the real meaning of the Second Amendment to the Constitution:

A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

For “militia” read “you and me.”

An anti-abortion and anti-gun control messageBack to what Obama said: “this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries.” Lay aside, for a moment, those who suspect someone made Adam Lanza, the Newtown suspect, a patsy in a false-flag pseudo-op. (Ironic, that term “patsy.” In Hollywood that stands for Performing Animal Top Star of the Year. One could argue Adam Lanza acted like an animal. The conspiracy theorists suggest he did not merely act but performed like an animal with training.)  Lay aside, also, the drugs Adam Lanza and Dylaan Roof each took for months, or years, before going on their respective rampages. (The incidence of rampage shooting since the first use of drugs like Nardil, Marplan, Parnate, Elavil, Desyrel, Prozac, and now Zoloft, does cry out for someone to look into.) Instead, let us examine the central claim: only in America, with its gun culture, do its people shoot each other to death so often. Contributors to IJReview can now say: false.

Rampage shootings per capita

Anyone who takes the Law School or Graduate Management Admissions Test will remember this kind of question: “Can you spot the key flaw in the argument?” Classically, according to Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions, Inc., the flaw consists of comparing numerators and ignoring denominators. Other flawed arguments use only two data points when several others will weaken the argument. So to argue for gun control, statists argue one of two things, and sometimes both:

  1. Rampage shooting deaths in the United States, with its permissive gun laws, exceed by one or two orders of magnitude such deaths in any country in Europe, with restrictive gun laws.
  2. Rampage shooting deaths per capita in the United States exceed those in the United Kingdom, The Netherlands, The Federal Republic of Germany, and several other countries.

Together these facts would seem to say in America one stands a greater chance of dying from criminal gunfire than in any other country in the world, outside of an obvious war zone (including the “terror zone”). But these two facts do not represent all the facts.

The volunteer web archive or “Wayback Machine” has this table of the full statistics on rampage shooting incidents, and the populations of the countries they happened in, over five years. Best of all, that link will load an interactive version of that table. So one can re-sort the rows, in ascending or descending order, using any column as a key.

In fact, the United States ranks sixth in rampage shooting deaths per capita, behind (in order) Norway, Finland, Slovakia, Israel, and Belgium. The United States ranks fifth in rampage shooting incidents per capita behind all the other countries named except Belgium. So yes, the United Kingdom has a safer record, as does Germany. But whatever adversely affects the United States, affects Finland and Slovakia worse. And whatever that baleful influence might be, all those countries except Belgium have restrictive gun laws. So gun control does not work as its advocates claim.

In the version of the Rampage Shooting Index that IJReview had available, Switzerland had pushed the United States back one step in both rankings, after an update in 2013. (The Wayback Machine has this link to the 2013 totals, but the archive seems slow to load and incomplete.)

The magazine Security noticed these baleful facts:

Between January 1, 2009, and December 31, 2013,there were 413 fatalities from mass shootings in the 34 member states of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). From the five-year period of 2008-2012, there were 373 total spree shooting fatalities.

According to the OECD’s latest version of the Rampage Shooting Index, a pair of deadly shootings in Switzerland in early 2013 pushed the U.S. out of the top five OECD nations for the most per capita fatalities, but the U.S. continues to have the most rampage shooting deaths (one reason could be its size – The U.S. population accounts for 25 percent of the OECD total). However, the U.S. saw a drop in mass shooting deaths from 93 in 2012 to 68 in 2013.

A fair statistical analyst must throw out Norway as an “outlier.” One incident brought 77 deaths. One should probably throw out Israel, too, considering the political motive behind most rampage shootings in that country. That still leaves Finland and Slovakia. In Finland especially, people seem to make a habit of shooting their fellow citizens, and not for obvious political motives. (Once is happenstance; twice is coincidence; and the third time, it’s a habit. Apologies to the late Ian Fleming.) But people seize on the numbers for the United States. Thirty-eight shootings! One hundred eighty-six people dead! Mr. and Mrs. America, TURN IN THOSE GUNS! But as Security‘s editors point out, look at the size of our country, and compare it to the size of Finland. Also, do the arithmetic on those thirty-eight incidents: they average less than five per incident. This includes the Sandy Hook and Aurora Incidents, two of the largest in history. If one should ignore Norway as an outlier, one should also readjust the American rampage shooting statistics to ignore the Sandy Hook and Aurora Incidents. But no gun control advocate will do this. They care more about proving a point than about doing good statistical science.

Kyle Becker at IJReview makes five further points about gun death rates:

  1. Mass shooting incidents and fatalities are still rare, whether one includes the Aurora Incident or not.
  2. The history of the last thirty years shows no significant trend in mass shootings.
  3. The overall history of the last thirty years, of mass or one-time shootings, shows overall gun deaths have declined.
  4. Mass violence need not involve guns. They also have demonstrably involved bombs, blades, and other weapons.
  5. The total rate at which people kill other people, in the United States and elsewhere, does not track with the rate at which people own guns.

A real answer to the rampage shooting problem

Gun control advocates never have a real answer to how to stop rampage shootings. They don’t want an answer. They want an excuse to take your guns away from you.

But gun control opponents do have an answer. First, when those in authority, or especially those having a “duty to warn,” notice someone talking or acting crazy, they should go to court seeking to enjoin that person from owning, carrying, or coming anywhere near a gun. Second, let the country build a national database of court orders, injunctions, convictions, and so on. With such a database available, any gun dealer would know in advance when someone seeking to buy a gun, has lost his legal right to buy. As a result, a person wanting to inflict harm would not find a gun so easy to get.

Now perhaps Dylaan Roof would not have found a gun unobtainable. But suppose the pastor and deacons had each had a gun handy? That incident might have ended with only two or three deaths, including that of Roof himself. Pastors have stopped mass shooting incidents in their churches by shooting back.

The only sure defense against a bad guy with a gun, is you with a gun. And if more people carried, numbers alone would deter many of those thirty-eight incidents of the last five years. The rest would end when a target refused to play the victim. “An armed society is a polite society.” So said Robert A. Heinlein. We should remember that today of all days.

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Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.

14 Responses to Gun control: excuses, excuses

  1. tex_rich says:

    (very) Small-number statistics are meaningless in this case. Almost all of the countries with ANY incidents ONLY have ONE, including your example country Slovakia. Do yourself a favor – add up all of the incidents for EVERY country aside from the US and calculate a new per capita rampage statistic – yeah, ouch. Now get the statistics through 2015 – again, ouch. Now also look at homicides per capita (which is included in that table, but you conveniently forgot to mention) – ouch again! Yup, more guns make a country more dangerous. Period. Embrace the second amendment, though – it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. Pretty sure there are too many crazy people with guns that would stop that from ever happening ;)

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