Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Editorials: Where I rant to the wall about politics. And sometimes the wall rants back.

Why don’t gun owners trust the left?

Jerry Stratton, June 22, 2016

The real concern of gun control

Immediately following new of the Orlando shooting, the left’s finger nannies got onto social media and began trying to convince their friends to support new gun control laws—specifically, gun control laws that wouldn’t have stopped the Orlando shooter.

Here’s an example from my feed:

I think the terrorist thing, while real in this particular case, is not really the issue. As I stated before, from my point of view, the larger issue has more to do with the relative value we put on our right to free and easy access to fire arms and the cost in human lives that access entails… guns make us less safe, not more, by a huge margin…

To support this, he also wrote:

You are 800 times more likely to die of gun violence if you have guns in the home. That is a fact.

That is “in fact” a pretty huge margin. It was also, of course, completely false. When challenged on it, he immediately dropped it from 800 to 8—no longer a huge margin, but still with no references. Challenged on that, he provided a study that didn’t mention any 8 times greater likelihood of dying from gun violence, or any 8 times greater chance of anything whatsoever.

Then he clammed up, claiming the other people in the discussion (me, mainly) were “just looking to win instead of learning” and that we should “learn some critical thinking skills.”

It turns out that in order to reach “8 times more likely” he was adding two unrelated rates of increase together, and, as is often the case when the left begins to realize that their arguments are filled with bad logic and worse math, he accused those questioning him of his own failures.

Now, no one expects random social media posters to be mathematically literate or even logical. What was amazing to me, though, was how closely his evolution in that one set of comments over a few days mirrored what gun owners get from the left in general, and has been getting, for decades—since before I stopped supporting gun control.

Ironically, the study he quoted just before he petulantly clammed up in the face of a collapsing argument was a 1993 study by Kellerman, once a leading light on the left who followed the same pattern: first, a wildly outrageous statistic (43 times more likely to die from your own gun!) downgraded to a merely moderately outrageous statistic (2.7 times more likely to die from your own gun!) to, when it was pointed out that it looked like, from his tables, that there was actually a moderate benefit to owning a firearm, clammed up and refused to release his data. It was this latter study that provided the “800 times more likely!”, then, “8 times more likely!”, to “you’re a meanie, I just wanted to talk about larger issues”.

I’m familiar with that study because it was one of the studies that convinced me to stop supporting gun control back in the early nineties, because it was so blatantly biased and even then so blatantly misrepresented by politicians and the press.

Gun owners see this numerical nonsense all the time, and not just from the mathematically illiterate on Facebook. It comes from all facets of the left. They’ve seen the left lie, make up numbers, and try to divert public discussion from the real issue to “wider issues” that are unrelated to the murder that started the discussion. Just about every time.

But the point of this numerical innumeracy, from the mainstream media to social media, isn’t to inform their position; it is their position that allows them to hallucinate those numbers, first seeing some ridiculously huge 800 times or 43 times, then misrepresenting the data itself to show something it doesn’t.

Simple reflection would have told them that their figures were wrong, just as simple reflection would have told the finger nanny on social media that you can’t add two rates of increase together in that way and have a meaningful number.

Gun owners see the left, called on outrageous numbers, not back up the numbers with data but simply retreat to less outrageous numbers that still are not backed with data. Then they see the left, on pointing out that the data behind the numbers doesn’t even match what they’re claiming about them, clam up and hide the data.

And when it’s pointed out that their solutions wouldn’t even have stopped the murder that prompted them, they talk about a “larger issue”.

Gun owners reasonably assume that the left has an agenda behind their lies, and that this agenda has nothing to do with stopping murders but rather is to ban effective self-defense. And that the left will misrepresent any statistics they can to reach that goal.

It’s happening now in Orlando, it happened in San Bernardino. A mass murder occurs due to existing laws not being enforced, the left wants to add new laws on top that would do nothing to stop murder and everything to make it harder for law-abiding gun owners.

And to top it all off, every time a murder like this happens, they claim that you know, maybe gun owners are okay, but the evil NRA is literally causing these murders. Even when, in this case, it was a Democrat who was not an NRA member who committed the murder. Gun owners know that the NRA is nothing more than the sum of law-abiding gun owners. The NRA is not an industry or trade group; it is a grass-roots organization funded and run by law-abiding gun owners. When the left calls the NRA “the enemy” as Hillary Clinton does, and as the media does in countless editorials, gun owners rightfully hear that the left considers them the enemy.

Orlando shows this exact pattern. The terrorist wasn’t on the watch list; he should have been, but the FBI took him off for, most likely, politically correct reasons1. And the left? They want to ban everyone on the watch list from owning a gun.

They claim the NRA is against this. But the NRA supports it: as long as there’s a way for people who shouldn’t be on the list to get off the list reasonably easily. Democrats in congress have refused to compromise. They don’t want innocent people off the list. It’s perfectly reasonable for gun owners to think that this is because they don’t care so much about terrorists, but rather care a whole lot about just banning guns from non-terrorists.

So gun owners reasonably assume that the true goal of Democrats is not stopping mass murders, but banning guns from the law-abiding. Because Democrats want to pass a law that wouldn’t have stopped this mass murderer, they don’t want to let non-mass murderers get off the list, and they don’t seem to care that this murderer succeeded because existing law wasn’t enforced.

Then, the left calls the second amendment “vague” and “unclear”. But it’s a simple declarative statement preceded by a reason. There’s nothing vague or unclear about it, unless you want to legislate it away by pretending it doesn’t mean what it clearly says.

Why don’t gun owners trust the left?

The laws the left wants would not have stopped these murders, but existing laws would have, if enforced, and the left focuses on demonizing gun owners, hand-waving away their second amendment protections, and misrepresenting statistics.

Current law says that the FBI must be notified immediately when a person on the watch list buys a firearm. They weren’t notified this time because they took this guy off the watch list despite what he’d said and done. If the FBI is unwilling to use the tools they have, no warnings or bans will help. The debate over firearms purchases and the watch list is a debate over something that would not have stopped this terrorist, who both was not on the list and had already infiltrated federal security contractors.

There were already laws in place that would have stopped these murders if the FBI had enforced them.

It’s very disingenuous for the White House to use a tragedy caused by them not enforcing the law as an excuse to pass more laws targeting, not murderers, but the law-abiding.

It isn’t unreasonable for gun owners to think that targeting law-abiding gun owners is, in fact, their true goal. Because either the left has an appalling lack of connection with reality, or their stated goals differ from their real ones.

I know the gun laws I want wouldn’t have stopped this mass murder, and I know that gun owners are happy to talk about enforcing existing laws that would have stopped it, but I’d rather exploit these deaths to talk about taking access to firearms away from everyone else. And I’m going to use dodgy, unverifiable non-references to justify it, demonize gun owners, and pretend the second amendment doesn’t exist.

This is what what gun owners hear from the left. In the media, on Facebook, from politicians up to and including the White House. Nothing but mathematical innumeracy, magical thinking, and clueless non-sequiturs. It would be surprising if gun owners did trust the left.

In response to U.S. homicide rate compared to gun control measures: Extrano’s Alley lists the U.S. homicide rate from 1885 to 1940, and somebody else puts it into a chart.

  1. The FBI is stonewalling, so we don’t know yet what their reasoning was, but the evidence is the reports we do have, from the killer’s colleagues and from what the FBI has released, that the killer’s excuse, which was accepted by the FBI, is that he threatened to instigate a confrontation with law enforcement in order to become a martyr only because he felt like he was being discriminated against for being Muslim.

  1. <- Soft bigotry kills