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Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Yet Another Awful Pro-Gun Video

(this was meant to go out on 5th January)

Some gun nut sent me this video and proclaimed that "Ima leave this here.Remember the sad trolls we have around here so rabidly anti-gun? Yea, this just bitchslaps them to Mars."

Predictably, it was an awful video, coming from someone who proclaimed that this awful meme was "reality, facts, and cold hard logic" and had a "shitton of cold hard facts" about how guns prevent violence (when in reality it was just about how gun control isn't 'compromise'):

Throwing silly YouTube videos is no substitute for making a real argument. Especially videos as bad as this one - it's an awful video which spent most of its time being snarky and contemptuous rather than making any real argument. I wasted 14 mins listening to it and many more debunking it.

To be fair, it was better than that silly meme he posted that was totally irrelevant, but it also wasted a lot more of my time so I'm not sure it was more worthwhile.

Apparently it was responding to another awful video (which I think is bad too), but this video is claiming that that other awful video is representative of all who advocate gun control (e.g. "the left wants to take away all of our guns").

This is what we call a straw man..

There are only 2 real claims that I found in the video:

1) Gun rights are fundamental, non-negotiable rights

2) Guns save more lives than they cost

In turn:

1) Gun rights are fundamental, non-negotiable rights

This is an article of faith.

Strangely, more or less the whole world does not hold this article of faith.

Well, the ability to hold slaves used to be considered a fundamental right in the US.

And in Muslim countries their fundamental rights include include the ability to have 4 wives.

2) Guns save more lives than they cost

So at 8:40 it claims that 2 million crimes are prevented with guns each year, and cites what are allegedly CDC figures for this (in contrast, the claim that "virtually all of the research" shows that guns are mainly used for self-defence is totally unsourced)

Yet, this number does not seem to be a CDC figure but apparently comes from a 1995 study (How Often Do People Use Guns In Self-Defense?) - you will see mention of the NRA and Gun Owners of America using this figure too (How often are guns used to stop crimes?), but they come from the same place. And this study's figures is contentious because all the people supposedly shot don't appear to be shot in real life.

Plus defensive gun use as classified by this survey is not the same as a gun being used to prevent a crime.

People were only asked - "have you yourself or another member of your household used a gun, even if it was not fired, for self-protection or for the protection of property at home, work or elsewhere? Please do not include military service, police work, or work as a security guard" (Armed Resistance to Crime: The Prevalence and Nature of Self-Defense with a Gun / Kleck and Gertz 1995).

Consider, for example, that just because I use a gun in self defence does not mean a crime was not committed. Or that I might say that I was using a gun to defend myself, but this was just my perception (e.g. A big burly guy comes up to me and says 'what's up' in a tone I consider menacing. I tell him: 'woah, get away from me' while brandishing my weapon. I then consider this to be an instance of defensive gun use - when really I was just being paranoid).

There're other methodological problems with this figure. A more reliable estimate (as per the NPR article) is that there are 100,000 defensive gun use incidents a year. The figure may even be 67,740 a year (as per the Wyff4 one).

The video then claims that 300,000 crimes are committed with guns each year. I don't know where the figure comes from, but according to the National Crime Victimization Survey (Gun Violence | National Institute of Justice), 467,321 people were victims of gun crime in 2011. Note that this undercounts the number of crimes committed with guns - because the same person could be a victim of gun crime multiple times in a year.

So clearly there're more crimes committed with guns than are prevented.

Going back to the video, the figure of 10,000 killed in gun homicides, however, seems right.

The video then did some dodgy math from 2 million crimes prevented with a firearm to claim that guns are used to prevent 5,479 violent crimes a day. Did you spot the mischievous conflation? Even if you take the figure of 2 million defensive gun uses meaning 2 million crimes were permitted, you need to assume that all of these 2 million crimes were violent crimes.

Next they observe that there are 300,000 gun crimes a year, and 13,000 are homicides, so 4.3% of gun crimes are gun homicides. This bit checks out - at least the numbers are not an order of magnitude away from the source I found (the NIJ page). However, the video then goes on to claim that we can infer that out of 2 million crimes prevented with guns each year, 86,666 crimes would've resulted in a death so guns save 86,666 lives saved a day.

Did you spot the mischievous conflation here? It is more subtle but still evident.

Basically even if we accept the figure of 2 million crimes prevented with guns each year, we cannot assume that the proportion of gun homicides in the actual crimes *committed* is the same as the proportion of crimes *prevented* that would've resulted in homicide (if they had not been prevented). So their extrapolation is nonsense.

The video then claims that this figure of 2 million crimes prevented is an underestimate since it excludes instances where brandishing a weapon scared off a perpetrator.

Yet, that only looks at one side of the equation. One can also look at cases where a weapon was brandished (but not used) in order to commit a crime. Plus it misunderstands how defensive gun use was classified in the survey - actually firing the gun was not required for it to count (NWU paper - page 14/39)

Other nonsensical claims in this video:

It claims gun control won't work. Strangely, gun control works in much of the world. Especially the developed world.

Gun control is collective punishment since it punishes some people for what others do. Great. I can have my own nuclear bomb now, since I shouldn't be punished for what rogue states do with theirs.

It brings in contempt of court for some reason - what does this have to do with gun rights?

Apparently only totalitarian governments ask you to make sacrifices for the greater good. This misunderstands the nature of the social contract. Living in a society we all make sacrifices (willingly or otherwise). For example libertarians and anarchists don't like to pay taxes. So presumably a government that taxes you is a totalitarian one.

There is a claim that tyrannical governments strip people of gun rights - citation needed.

Then it invokes Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia and spouts fantasies about overthrowing a "tyrannical" government. You can ask the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto how that worked out. And good luck now that militaries have even more powerful weapons than were available in the 40s.

Well, guess what? The Nazi Germany point is a lie. Nazi Germany actually *loosened* restrictions on gun ownership (Adolf Hitler and the Myth of Nazi Gun Control Laws).

(Naturally the gun nut didn't react well to my debunking, but that was expected - at least I got a blog post out of this exercise instead of just wasting my time)
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