If there is one area of the law where there are buckets full of numbers it’s in the area of Gun Law. Everyone has a number for something related to firearms…regardless of which side of the fence you might sit on when it comes to firearms and gun control.
The gun control advocates can put together statistics that prove their point in just about every situation. The same can be said for those who want less gun control and favor maintaining their 2nd Amendment rights. Regardless of which side of the argument you might be on, someone always has numbers to prove their point.
Rather than get mired down in debating whether or not a particular statistic is right or wrong or valid or invalid, maybe it’s time to think about this with a different angle…common sense.
If someone comes up to you and gives you a statistic that is outrageous, your first instinct is to say this can’t be true. This is your common sense kicking into gear and asking normal questions about the numbers. You know deep down it is probably a number someone came up with using a unique combination of variables to prove their point and so you generally would ignore it or discredit it. This is your intuition and common sense coming into play and discounting the information.
But what if the number doesn’t seem too outrageous but a bit unbelievable? This is where most statistics get confusing and often times construed in such a way so as to prove the point the person is trying make. The same rule applies…if it doesn’t pass the common sense test for you, leave it alone. As an attorney, statistics become very powerful when making a point. The question is always, is this an isolated statistic that is being used to just prove a point or is it the big picture.
All too often we find a whole host of statistics surrounding a situation and someone pulls one or two they like out of the pile and makes a case around it. It isn’t giving you the entire picture and usually doesn’t pass the common sense test. Think of it this way…you bake a pie and use 5 different berries in the pie, each in its own area of the pie. If you cut a small piece out of each area and served it to your guests they would see that there are 5 different berries and would realize each berry represented 20% of the pie. But what if you just cut into one section of the pie and served it. Your guest would think it was only a blackberry pie or blueberry pie, depending on the berry they got. This would not be an accurate representation of the pie…similar to how many use isolated statistics to prove their point.
So the next time you read an article about gun laws, realize that most of the time someone is more than likely taking one slice out of the pie and trying to convince you it is a blackberry pie. Your common sense should tell you to look further and realize that there are other berries in the pie, other statistics that are part of the overall analysis. Do your homework when you see statistics…validate them with other research…check them against your common sense. In most cases you will realize they are just trying to serve you blackberries and ignoring the other 4 types of berries.
Be cautious and validate the numbers…the real story always comes out when all the berries in the pie are identified.