1/12/13 Overwhelmed with Conflicting Statistics

Amid the furor over the Vice-President’s indication of executive orders being used to limit constitutional rights, I decided I would write something refuting an article on gun control I read in The Huffington Post. That I would disagree with an article from Huffington is hardly surprising, is it? And many of you are wondering why I would even bother to read The Huffington Post. I think it is important to read what others are thinking, particularly those who don’t think like me. I already know what I think. I know what people who think like me think. I want to know what those who don’t think like me are thinking. Huffington is a reliable starting place.

I won’t even post a link to the Huffington article here, but it quoted some gun statistics which I found a bit dubious. Me finding them a bit dubious and them actually being dubious are two different things. One is perception and the other is fact untainted with perception. The truth can be very hard to get at. I have written before about the great Talleyrand who told us how easy it is to arrange facts for public consumption. In the case of crimes committed with firearms, there are so many statistics out there that you can just keep on searching until you find the ones that suit you, ignoring those that don’t. I searched and searched, found what I was looking for, found lots of things I’d rather not have found, and found so many distorted, twisted facts that soon, I was in a bewilderment over the the veracity, or lack thereof, of everything I had read. I spent hours trying to research for a rebuttal, but everything I came across was suspect. I even became suspicious of my own motives since I have an agenda. I am not dispassionate about my 2nd Amendment rights but am not willing to ignore facts that don’t support my cause in favor of only those that do, so I will just ignore facts altogether. They are so easily arranged.

The fact is <GRIN>, there are tremendous numbers of statistics available on-line from many, many different sources, including pro-gun sites, anti-gun sites, liberal media outlets, conservative media outlets, The United Nations (UN), The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the US Department of Justice (DOJ), and hundreds of others. Many of these sites have statistics which are in an uncontrolled flat-spin conflict with each other, some even internally. It seems to me that the facts should make themselves clearer if they want to be taken seriously. I’m sure the facts would do so if they had the power, but they silently stand by and allow miscreants and ruffians to manipulate them for their own purposes. One would think the facts would have more spine than that, but, no, they say nary a word while so many do violence to them. I would serve as their protector, but I don’t think people would take me seriously, nor should they. The voice that claims loudest to be in control of the facts is the voice that, in all likelihood, is actually in control of the facts. I’d rather my facts not be controlled by others, but be reliable and consistent. Apparently they have no desire to be so. Perhaps the real facts are really like reliable Buddhists; they have learned to abandon their desire.

The facts quoted by the Huffington article came, apparently, from Wikipedia, which apparently uses facts gleaned from a UN website where they are difficult to extract. Wikipedia made it easy since the extraction of the facts was done by the Wiki author, who may have had an agenda of his own. Oddly, the UN site had facts available for 2011, but one had to go back to 2004 to find the facts that seemed to fit the Huffington article. Facts that were applicable a decade ago are perhaps less than applicable today, unless, of course, they are the facts I happen to be searching for. I’d like to take this opportunity to recommend that Huffington writers use something besides Wikipedia for their facts, and recommend that the facts, themselves, at least consider acquiring, legally, of course, a small-calibre pistol to thwart further violence from being perpetrated on them, though merely having a firearm does not automatically guarantee its successful use for an intended purpose. It can be handy, though, just like any other tool.

The DOJ website has a link to crime statistics that indicate violent crime has dropped dramatically in our nation since 2004, including violent crimes involving firearms. The CDC, on the other hand, seems to point to facts that deaths by firearms are up. They separate out accidents, homicides, and suicides. Some of the other sites I visited didn’t bother to do so, leading one to mistakenly think, perhaps, that all the firearms-related deaths were homicides.

I found websites that indicated dramatic drops in violent crimes in Washington, DC, and Chicago, which have occurred since the Supreme court ruled that local laws prohibiting homeowners from keeping firearms in their homes were unconstitutional. (If so, how does New York still get away with this?) I need to do some more research on it, but I don’t want to since for every fact I find, I find another which frustrates it, which in turn frustrates me. I am tired of being frustrated with conflicting facts. I want the truth. I’d prefer that the truth line up with my preferences, but the truth, unlike those spineless, casper milke-toast facts, will not do so.

I also encountered articles that indicated that homicides involving firearms (not all crimes involving firearms are homicides) in Chicago, where it is illegal to have a firearm outside your home, were up significantly. Maybe someone failed to notify criminals that possessing firearms and then using them during the commission of a crime is, first, illegal, and then, doubly illegal. I also found several articles about the dramatic rise in violent crime in Australia, including armed robberies and home invasions, that has occurred since Australia disarmed its citizenry. Violent felons will no doubt confirm overwhelmingly that they prefer unarmed victims. This makes so much sense as to need no statistic in its support, though there are some.

About 20 years ago, the US News and World Report had a whole issue dedicated to “Guns in America.” In that issue they had a segment where they interviewed inmates in correctional facilities who had been convicted of using a firearm during the commission of their crime. I remember that 98% of the inmates interviewed said they preferred their victims to be unarmed. 98% is an overwhelming majority. It makes me wonder about that other 2%, though. I still wonder about that 2% to this day. That 2% is a game bunch. They must be in the business they’re in (or were formerly in) for the adrenalin rush of the hunt. Apparently, they prefer their victims armed. Folks, let me assure you . . . an encounter with one of those 2% is dangerous business.

Having said that, let me go on to also assure you that being alive is dangerous business. There are many things lobbying for the chance to kill you: accidents, viruses, cancers, cancer treatments, bacterial infections, anti-biotic resistant bacterial infections, arterial blockages, aneurisms, pulmonary embolisms, cigarettes, alcohol, drunk drivers, bad drivers, distracted drivers, recreational drugs, designer drugs, stress, pharmaceutical companies, genetically modified foods, trans-fats, saturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, hydrogenated fats, pollutants, heavy metals, international corporations, airlines, asteroids, comets, volcanoes, carbon emissions, solar radiation, nuclear accidents, nuclear proliferation, domestic terrorists, foreign terrorists, floods, fires, tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, incompetent medical care, nursing homes, old age, bad restaurants, and, remarkably, even felons. There are more things waiting for the chance to kill you than you can name. We hardly stand a chance of something not killing us. The statistics support it. The facts support it.

I will make up some facts. Here’s one . . . The local and state law enforcement officers in Mississippi who say they do not want to be the one who knocks on your door and greets you with the words, “We’ve come to take your guns,” is 98%. The other 2% is a worrisome lot.

With the Defense Authorization Bill’s indefinite detention amendment, The Patriot Act, and other things that place restrictions on our rights as citizens, concerns over restrictions of our 2nd Amendment rights are legitimate. As for me, I have to make an admission that I believe is as true as anything I have ever heard: The 2nd Amendment is the greatest assurance that there will always be a 1st Amendment. If the facts one is seeking are being sought by those who believe that the 2nd Amendment guarantees us the right to use firearms to deer hunt, they will find what they’re looking for, or invent them if the facts they find are inconvenient.

For those who like to pick and choose when convenient, as we are all wont to do when we are being coy or disingenuous, and will get all school-girlishly giggly when referring to the 2nd Amendment’s “well regulated Militia” language, please let me point out that the 1st Amendment says, “Congress shall make no respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” The Supreme Court has interpreted these to mean something different than what they actually say. Many who don’t like how the court interpreted the 2nd  Amendment would not even so much as dream of criticizing how the court has interpreted the 1st Amendment.

A Goose tastes better than a gander, they say . . . I don’t like either one. Remarkably, many of those whose livelihood depends on the 1st Amendment and are its greatest proponents are those who would deny us our 2nd Amendment rights. That is a fact. Use it as you will . . . the facts just don’t care.

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