Many people believe that just because someone has some “facts” or statistics or some other form of “infallible” information, we should believe them and move forward. With today’s abilities to “manipulate data” to say just about whatever they want or support whatever the cause, it requires us, as citizens, to do more investigation into what really are the facts.
Gun Law discussions are one of the worst offenders of this situation. We see facts thrown around all the time about this and that and how many more deaths are caused by this ruling, etc. Unfortunately, this will continue for quite some time…if not forever. So it is more important than ever to try and separate small facts from the overall facts…meaning, don’t pick out a few small numbers and try to use them to prove really big numbers. This is one of the biggest offenders of misusing statistical information and facts as they are given.
The good part of research is that someone is actually doing it and has to put their name on it…most are very reputable and want it to be as accurate as they can with the information they have. Here is a great case in point. There was an article by Clayton Cramer, a software engineer of Boise, in the Idaho Statesman on this very topic related to “gun facts”. The article, “Guest Opinion: Gun control laws don’t create safety, only illusions,” that demonstrated this issue relating to so called “facts.”
The focus of the article was on the idea that the facts presented (in support of HB 89) were not really the facts that were being reported as the facts. For example, here are the real facts he discovered…
“In Alaska, murder rates for the period 1993 through 2003 (when Alaska had a concealed weapon permit law similar to Idaho) averaged 7.0/100,000 people; after passage of a law similar to HB 89 murder rates for 2004 through 2012 averaged 4.6/100,000. Similarly, Arizona and Wyoming passed laws similar to HB 89 in 2010 and 2011 respectively. Wyoming’s murder rate fell from 2.6/100,000 (for 2002-2011), to 2.4/100,000 (for 2012). Arizona’s murder rate fell from 7.4/100,000 (for 2001-2010 ) to 5.8/100,000 (for 2011-2012). In the case of Alaska and Wyoming, murder rates fell faster than the national murder rate.”
His premise is that people supporting more gun control have created an “Illusion” of the facts being what they are rather than what they really are in this case. He also said that, “…states that have adopted mandatory background checks on firearms transfers since 1960 are more likely to have murder rates rise than fall.”
He closed with a great quote from criminologist Cesare Beccarin in “On Crimes and Punishments” in 1764 where he said, “laws forbidding the carrying of arms primarily disarm victims and have little impact on people who intend to commit some of the worst crimes such as murder and rape.” So while there are a lot of “facts” being thrown around on gun control (pro and con) it is important to stay focused on the overall, more detailed research numbers that give us a better picture than some tiny facts someone comes up with that may or may not have the depth of research behind them. This can lead to distortion and inaccurate conclusions.