Correlation and causation have a similar profile and are easily conflated, but they are not the same thing. It’s useful to learn the difference, especially when it’s so easy for those with a political agenda intentionally confuse important issues.
Consider the following example: whenever the rate of sharks attacking swimmers goes up, so does ice cream consumption. This is an absurd comparison, but it illustrates that fact that just because two phenomena are correlated does not mean there is a causal connection.
It’s worth noting that every totalitarian regime that wanted to impose a tyranny on a population first had to place bans on certain weapons to curtail the ability of the people to defend themselves. Consider feudal Japan, for example. Almost without exception, all systems of martial art were the products of a population which was deprived of the means of self-defense.
Unfortunately, in the modern age, martial arts are not a viable substitute for high-powered long range weapons. Another good example is Nazi Germany, a state where the population was given underpowered vehicles (the Volkswagon) and limited access to firearms.
Now, consider the arguments for gun control. They say guns promote violence, but possibly the most deceptive claim is the following; every day in America, 80 people are injured by a gun. This is a fact, and it is a fact of the sort that few people would tend to argue with, or examine for more nuance. But there is more to this fact than meets the eye- as there is with all of the commonly touted gun statistics.
It should be enough to shut down gun control advocates to say that 70 out of those 80 people hurt by a gun each day in the United States are the failed perpetrator of a would-be violent crime. That means 87.5% of those injured by guns are criminals being successfully repelled by their victims.
There is much more to the debate than this. The amount of deflection, sophistry, and downright lies that have been used to attempt to shame people into giving up their legal right to own firearms is staggering. But when you see just how ugly the deception really is, it’s hard to imagine why anyone would be willing to give gun control advocates the time of day.
Whenever someone talks about gun deaths, chances are they are lumping in gun suicides with gun murders. The truth is that 62% of gun related deaths are suicides, while just 35% are murders and accidents. Unfortunately, gun control advocates are likely to throw the whole of gun deaths into their argument- and this wrongly wins them a lot of converts. However, you should never fail to point out that anyone who mixes these two statistics together is either misled or lying.
Gun control advocates may go on to say we could reduce the suicide rate by restricting gun access. But by that same reasoning, we would also need to abolish tall buildings, bridges, automobiles, large bodies of water, rope, and over the counter sedatives.
Of course, the only acceptable rationale for gun control is that it might keep guns out of the hands of criminals. But this falls apart when you realize that 40% of criminal gun users got their guns from an underground or black market source. We have an excellent analog for this with the drug war, of course — wherein we see that criminalizing a thing creates huge underground markets which are impossible to effectively regulate.
After all, a criminal is out to commit a crime from the get-go, so why would they shy away from breaking the law to access a gun? If you’re not impressed by the drug war analog- consider the fact that we can’t even keep drugs out of prisons.
Of course, if you’re going to call for a ban on firearms, you’re obligated to claim that it will reduce the rates of crime. However, the facts tell us that from 1994 to 2011, gun ownership in the U.S. increased from 150 million gun owners to about 290 million, and during that time crime rates have dropped from 9 murders per 100,000 people to fewer than 5 murders per 100,000.
To sum up, it is sufficient to say that more often than not, guns are used to prevent crime more than to perpetuate it- and in the absence of guns, suicides and violence are achieved by other means.