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Whenever something like the South Carolina mass shooting happens, I always have to brace myself.

Among all the letters advocating forgiveness, universal concealed-carry, universal disarmament and the like are usually more than a few featuring misleading or downright false information.

No, George Washington did not say, "Firearms stand next in importance to the Constitution itself. They are the American people's liberty, teeth and keystone under independence." That and several other spurious quotes are listed on the website for Washington's Mount Vernon as not appearing in his writings or reported utterings. Perhaps the person who advanced the idea that gun-control advocates think guns are capable of independent action came up with that.

No, indications are that Sarah Brady most likely did not say, "Our task of creating a socialist America can only succeed when those who would resist us are totally disarmed." This quote and a longer variant were supposedly printed in The National Educator in 1994; however, GunCite and other Second Amendment sites note that its provenance is more than a little iffy (some aren't even sure the publication actually existed).

No, there's not a proven link between concealed-carry laws and reduced crime in states that have those laws; as Fact Check's 2012 review of the literature found, crime also declined in states without those laws. This appears to be a case of correlation/causation in which the purveyors of statistics fer or agin something imply clear cause and effect when it's no more than a weak link or pure coincidence.

Not that that matters to some people--truth is merely an inconvenience. Winning an argument with truth? Passé!

Carlisle Moody, an economics professor at William & Mary, talked of semantics to Fact Check in reference to a statement by U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas. Moody said Gohmert is "factually correct" in stating, "The facts are that every time guns have been allowed--conceal-carry [gun laws] have been allowed--the crime rate has gone down." Crime had indeed gone down, but implying that concealed-carry was the reason is more problematic. There's that reduced crime in non-concealed-carry states, for one thing, and research that shows negligible effects directly related to it for another.

Statistically speaking, research shows that more gun homicides occur where there are more guns. However, that's not necessarily a causal relationship, either, and as Fact Check notes, it's highly doubtful any study could ever conclusively prove that the mere presence of more guns causes an increase (or decrease) in gun murders. Besides, you can correlate just about anything, such as the divorce rate in Maine and the per capita consumption of margarine (a 99.26 percent correlation!); Tyler Vigen proves that on his Spurious Correlations site.

What am I saying here in my long-winded way? Basically this: Trust no one with an agenda (gosh, I think I've said this before, and no, "agenda" doesn't mean a different opinion than yours). Quotes and statistics that too neatly make the point of a hot-button agenda (i.e., get rid of guns/give everyone guns, let gays marry/keep gays from marrying) might just be more than a little trumped up or taken completely out of context.

Context, for example, might add to the Jeanne Assam story being trotted out again that she was a former police officer and a volunteer security guard--as opposed to being simply a random church member with a concealed-carry permit--in the Colorado church where she stopped a gunman from killing more people in 2007.

We all know how important context is, which is why so many with agendas like to strip context away. And it's why I try my best not to use certain words in this column or on my blog just in case some crazy person not related to me wants to put forth the idea that I ... well, I won't finish that thought. Just to be safe.

What's my take on the whole gun issue? I don't see a reason to take away everyone's guns; I do, however, think it's far past time to inject some common sense into the debate.

The Second Amendment, like other amendments, is not absolute. There's nothing wrong with setting and enforcing reasonable limits to preserve a civil society. Because I just said that, I would probably be labeled as an anti-gunner by the pro-gun adherents. Yet I don't hate guns and, out in the country, I grew up around them and have a healthy respect for them. I simply don't like the absurdities of toothless or unenforced laws and people who brook no disagreement with their position.

Like most hot-button issues, guns tend to bring out extremes, with no room for the middle ground, and as long as that continues, common sense (and truth) will avoid the debate. No one side is all right or all wrong ... but boy, when they're wrong, they're reeeeeeallly wrong.

So what do we do now? Hopefully, we'll start actually speaking to each other honestly and making a constructive effort to fix the laws, rather than yelling false information and insults over each other and proposing absurd measures like banning all guns or arming toddlers.

Aaaaand now the armed-toddler lobby is going to come after me.

------------v------------

Assistant Editor Brenda Looper is editor of the Voices page. Read her blog at blooper0223.wordpress.com.

Editorial on 06/24/2015

Print Headline: Ask questions first

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Archived Comments

  • 23cal
    June 24, 2015 at 7:19 a.m.

    The only way to stop a bad toddler with a gun is a good toddler with a gun. More guns!

  • blooper13
    June 24, 2015 at 7:53 a.m.

    Dang it, you're right. I am duly chastised.

  • kdc72701
    June 24, 2015 at 9:20 a.m.

    Personally I am not all anti-gun either. If people want a hunting rifle, OK by me. If they want to tote a handgun into the restaurant where I am enjoying some fine Italian food... well I would like that not to happen.
    ````
    Speaking of fake facts, can we stop claiming more people are killed with hammers than with guns? Some idiot said it a while back, other idiots repeat it. And it ain't true. And obviously ain't true. I mean, people, please! How gullible are you?

  • blooper13
    June 24, 2015 at 12:31 p.m.

    But, but ... if you take their fake facts away, what will they have to say? :-(

  • kdc72701
    June 24, 2015 at 12:40 p.m.

    Not much to say without the fake facts. What I do not understand Brenda is how those on the Right all manage to be on the same page. Do they all get mass emails with the day's talking points? Complete with an outrage emotion transfer function. And Oh My Gosh the THOUGH POLICE are coming.
    ``
    "I don't belong to any organized political party, I am a Democrat." And I have to tell you I am a wee bit jealous of the group organization (or is it group think) that they manage to muster on the other side of the aisle. It is Uncanny!!!

  • kdc72701
    June 24, 2015 at 12:45 p.m.

    Oops I meant THOUGHT POLICE. Here they come. Oh Nooo

  • Pobucker
    June 24, 2015 at 12:57 p.m.

    I am forced to admit kdc is a world class troll. Better than me. I particularly love what I have come to call her "Constantly Rotating Deflection". If you say slavery, she says sexual slavery. If you name four Muslim slaving groups, she refers back to all Muslims. It is an amazingly artful ballet of words.
    I also appreciate her exquisite avoidance skills. On any subject of fact, she can introduce her own contrary fact instantly and without reference. Then she refers to her new fact as proof of your idiocy and dismisses your argument out of hand. Brilliant avoidance working synchronistically with ad hominem!
    Anyone experienced in playing resource games will recognize the last trolling tactic, which I call the tank rush. When pressed, kdc responds with an overwhelming volume of verbiage. The sheer weight of her postings is enough to discourage many prospective opponents, who retreat into despair. Indeed, I have personally glanced at many threads and quietly backed away from the chaos.
    I tip my hat to you, kdc. Welcome!

  • dman
    June 24, 2015 at 1:10 p.m.

    Yep, Po. When I see the page-long, multiple posts, I just scroll right on by.

  • kdc72701
    June 24, 2015 at 1:18 p.m.

    Po: I am not trying to ballet any words. I honestly thought you meant sexual slavery. You did not mean that so OK,I was mistaken. As for 4 Muslim "slavery groups" you named, it just seems to me that the war in Iraq killed a lot of Muslims that were just minding their own business and living their lives but that that war had little to No impact on the groups you mentioned. Is that true? Or untrue?
    ````
    The fact is you raised this issue of modern slavery out of context anyway. We were talking about racism and the Democratic party. YOU were the one who suddenly brought up -- out of nowhere -- modern slavery (which you did not define at first) in a vague attempt to accuse over 100 million US Democrats of being 'the party of slavery' and indifferent to slavery. In fact you DID say straight out that Democrats do not care about slavery which is a crazy statement to make about 1/2 the US population.
    ```
    So admit first that your remark was wildly tangential and was an attempt to switch gears and swerve in a new direction for the purpose of proving an entirely different point, a false point, namely that democrats do not care about slavery. Was it such an attempt? I may be wrong but it seemed to be an attempt to try to besmirch half the USA population? Please correct me if I am wrong.
    ```
    As for my confusion about what you were saying..The confusion was genuine. I thought you were talking about sexual slavery. As for the Muslim groups you mentioned, I pose this question : Do you think our costly war in Iraq, costly in terms of money and lives, especially Iraqi lives, has done anything to curtail these groups?
    ```
    Recap: 1) I genuinely misunderstood what slavery you meant. 2) You were trying to make an insane point that 1/2 of Americans do not care about slavery now (as in the past) ,namely Democrats. 3) I do not believe the Iraw War which killed many many innocent Muslims has had any impact on the groups you mentioned. Do you believe it did? This entire discussion has swerved from one highyway to the next and the dangerous driver in this conversation is, as usual, you. You changed gears. My mistake was responding to your insanity at all.

  • kdc72701
    June 24, 2015 at 1:20 p.m.

    Also Po: Why is this post under Brenda's Article. It does not have anything to do with her article. Again you are changing the topic.

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