J and D's Corner

From the Letters Archive

The local paper gets steady streams of letters from one-subject sources.  One of them is the local vegan/vegitarian community, who make sure there is at least one anti-meat letter a month.  Another is the gentleman named below, who is chairman of the local chapter of the anti-gun Brady Campaign. 

My big thing is that laws against guns have no effect on law-breakers, since by definition they don't give a shit what the law says.  The old phrase "When guns are outlawed only outlaws will have guns" may be trite but is definitely true.  Come up with some effective way to take the guns away from the lawless sector and I might be a little more supporting of these things.


To:  AV Press
Date: 1/10/2012
Re:  Guns & Statistics

The latest in the series of anti-gun letters offered by Bob Harris of the local Brady Campaign chapter caught my eye, not because I am in any way unsympathetic with his aversion to violence but because of the misuse of statistical data to advance his case.

In campaigning against gun ownership Mr. Harris used the argument that “an individual is four times more likely to be shot…if the victim had a gun than if the victim didn’t.”  This is a favorite statistic of the anti-gun lobby and you see it used over and over. 

Here’s the problem I have with that statistic:  Because of anti-gun laws and the general social stigma related to guns, only a tiny percentage of those around you are carrying one.  Of that tiny percentage having guns immediately at hand, who are they?  If you answered “virtually all are gang members or others up to no good”, you get a gold star in logical thinking.  So when there is a confrontation between gang members or other aggressive no-good-nicks, what happens?  If you answer “gunplay” you obviously follow the news.  So duh, there’s the bulk of that statistic.

My counter statistic is the incidence of carjacking in Texas, where a gun in the car is very common and self-defense is broadly permissible, versus California, where almost no law-abiding citizens have one available and injuring a criminal can put you in jail.  The per-capita incidence in Texas is about half that of California. 

Understand that I’m not a fan of having some wild-west society where everyone carries a gun, but until someone figures how to get guns away from criminals rather than only from the law-abiding, I’d prefer to keep the criminals guessing.  I also strongly support the notion that a law-abiding individual should be able to make their own choice to resist or submit, even though in resisting they risk injury or death.

John Wilson