- Posted January 6, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Statistics Are Almost Never Believable, Especially On Gun Control
I overheard some older, ill-informed people in a restaurant this evening talking about the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut and they were making statements like, “Why did she need a military rifle anyway?” I didn’t bother to get in on the conversation, but for those that are not informed about guns, I would advise you to do research to understand what the AR-15 really is—which is not much different than any other semi-automatic rifle, except how it physically looks on the outside. It does not shoot some crazy high powered, armor piercing bullet that would stop a tank at nearly automatic firing speeds or any other nonsense people are led to believe. The type of gun has nothing to do with the outcome of the shooting because the shooter had two other handguns that might have done more damage and killed more people than the rifle depending on how he used them. I’m not going to get into an argument about the specifics of any gun because there are those who refuse to understand facts. However, I would like to share some information regarding statistics that are being used to garner support for gun control.
The use of statistics is generally misleading and only shows the story one wants them to tell. I have tried to explain to people for many years that anyone can take a large set of tabular data and manipulate it to get the results they need to support their cause and I have rarely seen data analyzed to the point it could tell an accurate story from all angles necessary to make educated decisions. I am quite experienced in the area of statistics and tabular data due to the places my career has led me and I thought I would provide some real examples of how statistics are only as good as how they are presented and they can greatly manipulate one's view on a topic if presented incorrectly or if presented to be misleading with a purpose.
Take for example the recent arguments stirred once again for gun control in the United States. Advocates of gun control will provide numbers like “12,000 deaths by firearms in 2008” and “nearly one gun exists for every American”. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg stated, “We are the only industrialized country that has this problem. In the whole world, the only one.” Let’s widen the lense and look at a bigger picture rather than focusing on one finite topic. Let’s first examine “Murder Rates” which are more of a tale of how effective crime prevention is overall and should be considered when discussing gun control. The United States is pretty much middle of the pack when examining homicide rates among industrialized nations instead of simply looking at the number of deaths by firearms alone. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Map_of_world_by_intentional_homicide_rate.png) In the UK it’s nearly impossible for the average citizen to own a gun, so guess what—they have serious problems with knife violence. (http://news.sky.com/story/1030482/knife-crime-funding-to-tackle-youth-violence).
Now, let’s take part of the information I gave you earlier that says “nearly one gun exists for every American” and consider that with the fact the U.S. is somewhere around the middle of the pack for overall homicide rates and apparently we lead the world in gun ownership, or at least the media leads me to believe that to be true. Doesn’t it seem logical that if gun ownership was the source of the problem, the U.S. would be leading the world by a country mile in overall homicide rates too? In fact, The Washington Post published this article recently that said homicide rates are at their lowest in 50 years. (http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2012-01-11/national/35438770_1_life-expectancy-homicide-rate-death-rate). How can it be that guns are killing so many people when the LA Times published this article that says in 2010 guns were not even in the top 15 leading causes of death? (http://articles.latimes.com/2012/jan/11/news/la-heb-death-rates-homicide-20120111) Should we focus on causes of death that are more prevelent first?
And with all this positive moves in the right direction and fewer homicides are happening when we have a government that has made negative progress in punishment of crime. Prisons did not have cable TV and the prisoners had no rights when Alcatraz was open, that's a fact. I thought when you went to prison, part of the deal was that you lost your rights, but over the years that has all changed and our government has tended to lean away from the things that made this the strongest nation on Earth over a 200 year period. We now allow pleas that result in home confinement for crimes that should require prison time.
Additionally, this quote is from Wikipedia regarding the assault weapons ban that expired in 2004:
“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention studied the "assault weapon" ban and other gun control attempts, and found "insufficient evidence to determine the effectiveness of any of the firearms laws reviewed for preventing violence," noting "that insufficient evidence to determine effectiveness should not be interpreted as evidence of ineffectiveness." A 2004 critical review of research on firearms by a National Research Council panel also noted that academic studies of the assault weapon ban "did not reveal any clear impacts on gun violence" and noted "due to the fact that the relative rarity with which the banned guns were used in crime before the ban ... the maximum potential effect of the ban on gun violence outcomes would be very small...."
So the next time you see a statistic regardless of the topic, published by itself without another counter-supporting statistic that says, “on the other hand…” you should be weary. The fact is, gun control is a hot topic because of a few nut jobs. I mean NO disrespect whatsoever to those who lost loved ones and my heart aches for them, but if you removed the mass shootings from the picture, let’s say the top 10 shootings over the past 10 years, the total number of deaths by firearms are not measurably changed and gun control is not even a topic in the news.
© 2013 Troy D. Young. All Rights Reserved.