I’ve slept on this since I made my last substantive comment on the “76 Reasons” thread with venomlash, re-read the whole thread several times, and I want to change my strategy.
venomlash, the reason I moderated and deleted your comments, other than on the “76 Reasons” posts, was not to censor facts and ideas I couldn’t tolerate, but to focus your attention, to get you to step through the logic and evidence on a single point, the deal about accidental gun deaths among children.
You proved unable to do that on your own. So, please, let me show how to work a debate point like this.
You accused me thus:
“You have yet to post a single statistic or number. You just ask me to find them on my own. If you want to refute my arguments, refute them with EVIDENCE and I will do the same.”
It does seem unfair, doesn’t it, that I’m imposing a standard on you that I myself seem to be ducking.
I’m hearing your confusion and frustration, which is partially my fault, because I’ve been having way too much fun in this fight, and forgot that my goal here is not to win, but to explain. I apologize for that, truly.
I’m going to explain now why I’ve been holding back on the stats and other details, in order to demonstrate what’s been going on that you may well not be aware of. Think of this as me standing at the blackboard and working through a sample problem for the class, an experience you should be very familiar with. But remember, there will be homework, and if I help you with that, you won’t learn how to do it yourself.
Unfortunately, I’m going to have to say some things that will likely be very uncomfortable for you. I know this because I know how uncomfortable they were for me as I came to grips with them. Please, then, slow down, scan through the whole post, so you can see where I’m going, then go back and read through again, carefully, working the exercises as you come to them.
I’m not asking you to trust me, because you absolutely shouldn’t, but I am asking you to try to see the argument as I did, to follow my thoughts, and to see why I came to the conclusions I did. (This is, by the way, an excellent technique to find flaws in your opponent’s argument.)
I am now going to step through the argument on accidental child death from guns. Steady yourself, this is going to take some time.
You opened with “How about all the kids who die because their parents leave their guns lying around loaded?”
Now, to those of us who have been following the gun rights debate for more than a few years, this pops out as a standard line from the gun control play book. (And if you’re going to play this game on that team, you need to understand that there’s not much you can say that isn’t a standard line with a pretty widely accepted meaning. If you mean something else, you need to be very careful to say exactly what you mean.)
In fact, “kids die because their parents leave their loaded guns lying around” is usually shorthand for, “Gun owners are incredibly irresponsible, often drunken, idiots who leave their loaded, unlocked weapons lying around on the coffee table, and their neglected little kids end up shooting themselves and their playmates. And this happens all the time; it’s a major cause of child death. If we banned just a few more kinds of guns a little harder than we do, it would save the lives of many, many cute little innocent children.”
For instance, here’s a post where I responded to someone else making that claim, someone who did a better job of it than you did. I used WISQARS [explained below] on him, too. This why I say I’ve already done my homework.
Again, it doesn’t matter whether that’s what you meant or not. That’s the way it’s been used for many years now, and that’s the way it will come across in debate. Just so you know, almost everything in the gun-control playbook is loaded in the same way.
In your case, I elected to accept the statement as a fairly innocuous proxy for “accidental gun deaths of young children.” In other words, suspecting your inexperience, I gave you a lot of slack.
I responded: “Yeah, how about them? How many, exactly? Look ‘em up, and get back to us. And please, no outdated lies from the Brady Bunch or Violence Policy Center. Try the FBI, or the CDC, primary sources. Remember that ‘anecdote’ is not the singular of ‘data’. Give us the numbers, please.”
(The “anecdote” comment referred to a link you provided of a typical gun-related Darwin moment. Yeah, they happen, always will, and there’s not a darn thing we can do to stop them all. They’re necessary — please consider the true meaning of the word “Darwinism”)
I’ve learned not to trust the numbers from The Brady Campaign and the Violence Policy Center. That’s a long story, beyond the scope of this post. I’m not asking you to trust me on this, but please just accept, for now, for the sake of the argument, that I insist on numbers from a source that does not couch them in terms of the gun control v. gun rights debate on either side. A neutral source. (“Non-partisan” is meaningless. There are RKBA Democrats, and gungrabbing Republicans. To most of the gun-control groups, the parties are puppets.)
Instead, I strongly recommend the WISQARS tool from the Federal government Centers for Disease Control. CDC is by no means a Second Amendment advocate (it suffers from a close association with doctors, who treat gunshot wounds, and therefore have a bit of a skewed outlook), but as far as I know, the WISQARS data is honestly collected and reported. The tool is a little clumsy to use, but it can be massaged into presenting very enlightening reports at amazing levels of detail, and I strongly encourage you to play around with it for awhile. You will never have to trust anybody else’s numbers again. As I type, the last year for which data is available is 2006.
[One problem with it is that the charts are dynamically generated according to your specific request, so I can't, literally can't, link to specific results. You'll just have to play with it. Sorry about that.]
Your response to my demand for data was, “In 1999, 3,385 kids under 19 died from firearm-related deaths, according to the U of Michigan Health System, which got its facts from the 2002 edition of Injury Facts from the National Safety Council.”
I objected to this, strongly, because first of all, you did not provide links, as requested. And, second, when I searched on Google (what, you think I couldn’t find it from your hints? That I work blind?) I discovered your numbers came from a report with a specific, anti-gun bias — exactly what I wanted to avoid. Two strikes against you, albeit small ones. The implication was that you were running a script, but were probably not aware of it.
Most disturbingly, though, you shifted the terms of the argument, a tactic known as “moving the goal posts”, and you did so in two dimensions.
First, you moved from “accidental death” to “firearm related death”. As I noted at the time, “firearm related” includes anything and everything that results in a child getting shot. This is a much larger set than simple accident.
Second, you went from “kids”, which is meant to conjure up images of cute little grade school kids, toddlers, and infants, to “under 19″. That means, at 18, at least some “kids” who have graduated from high school. “Kids” who are old enough to vote. “Kids” old enough to drive. “Kids” old enough to be parents. Most importantly, “kids” old enough to be in gangs, something that starts in earnest around 14 or 15. Old enough to be in gang fights. Old enough to commit armed robbery. Old enough to commit rape. Old enough to be in juvie, even prison. These “kids” are not playing with guns found in their parents homes, as your “what about…?” implies; these “kids” walk around all the time with guns stuck in their pants, looking to shoot and waiting to get shot on purpose.
Do you understand now why this goal-post shift set off loud alarm bells? When you did that, you didn’t just shoot yourself in the foot; you cut yourself off at the knees. You blew the fight, right there, and if I weren’t such a nice guy, I’d have pitched you out the door on the spot as a lying jerk not worth the trouble of sparring with. I didn’t just flat-out ban you, though, because, again accounting for your evident inexperience, I actually felt sorry for you.
Sit tight, now, and learn. Here’s what the real deal is:
The number of gun deaths due to outright murder, as well as legitimate self defense on the part of intended victims, goes way up at about fifteen, which is why I encourage you to plot, year by year, in an actual graph, gun deaths as a function of age, newborns to twentyone. Do it now, please. I’ll wait.
See what happened when they included the fifteen-to-nineteen year olds?
Pretty sobering, eh?
For those of you playing along at at the office, here’s roughly what you get:
A quick glance at WISQARS shows these firearm-homicide numbers, by age group:
5- 9 62
From the 5-9 group to the 10-14 group, firearm homicides double, which admittedly is pretty grim.
But when we look at the 15-19 group, homicides go up by an order of magnitude, a factor of ten. This one group completely swamps the numbers for the groups comprising what most of us think of as “kids”. Adding that group into the mix, as the study you cited did, tells a filthy, lousy lie with completely valid numbers. Neat trick, huh?
In these ranges, firearm homicide is the top cause of violence-related death. In the 1-4 age range, it’s third, with 42 deaths. However, firearms, apparently, are not the weapon of choice when dealing with the under-1 baby threat; they’re not even in the top ten.
Now look at accidental death.
For ages 5-14, firearms accidents are ranked eighth. In the 15-19 group, it’s still only fifth, at 100 deaths over the course of an entire year.
Now, here’s why I like WISQARS: the chart that I’m looking at shows all top ten causes of accidental death, not just the gun deaths of the report you referenced. Here’s what beats out guns:
For infants under the age of one, “Unintentional suffocation” is top-ranked. I bet this means that most of these babies died in their cribs, strangled by their pillows, blankies, and teddy bears. Eight hundred and forty three of them died this way in 2006. That’s right: 843, just under half the number of gun homicides among teen gang-bangers. You wanna pass a law that takes away the babies’ lovies that help them sleep through the night? You are going to have a lot more than 843 angry, exhausted parents beating on your door at three o’clock on a work day morning.
In the one to fourteen age group, the number one accidental killer is “accidental motor vehicle traffic”, at about 500/year. At 15-19, that category shoots up to just under five thousand a year, as those crazy teens get the car keys.
In any case, cars and traffic are ranked number one. Number two is drowning or poison.Then comes fire/burn or “other land transport”. A lot of kids seem to die of suffocation; I have no idea what that’s about.
Now do you understand why I asked you, in a later post, about what else you would have to ban if you want to save as many children as you (allegedly) would by banning guns?
Go back to WISQARS. Play with the charts. Study the age groups, look at the causes, the rankings, the numbers.
The ugly truth is, guns are simply not an important cause of death in young children, accidental or intentional. Guns only become a problem when kids get old enough to shoot each other with malice aforethought, and even then it’s a fraction of what cars do. What matches and stoves do. What bug spray and weed killer do. What, for crying out loud, water does. You really want to ban water?
Anyway, guns are not the problem.
Now do you see why I wanted you to do the research and run the numbers yourself? If I’d just come out and said, “According to the CDC, gun deaths are a negligible cause of death in children under the age of fifteen”, and spat a couple of numbers at you, would you have believed me? Would it have meant anything to you? (And you wouldn’t have learned how to use WISQARS.)
Now that you’ve spent some time looking at the details yourself, the real numbers, in context, are you beginning to feel as cheated and lied to as I did when I ran across this the first time (in a much cruder fashion), lo these many years ago on Usenet?
I know, I know, the pre-programmed defense lies are kicking in about now, and causing you to feel angry. They’re not there to defend you, venomlash. They’re there to defend the core boss lie, to re-direct your anger from the people who fed you those lies to me and people like me. We haven’t talked about the Core Boss Lie yet, but we’re close. Get up, pee, do some breathing exercises. Clear your head.
[While waiting, Good Old Uncle Dave reads through the comments again, and stumbles across -- Oh, lordy!]
Back now? OK, venomlash, here’s something else you said:
Give me a statistic and I will find one to refute it with.
Kid, I just gave you the entire United States of America Federal government National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (one of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) official Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System. Not just “a statistic”, but a whole dataset, along with the online front end tool to view it with. This dataset is what the U.S. government bases public policy on; Congress even uses it to design laws, when Congress can be bothered to look at the facts, not the polls. It’s as official and thorough and complete as this sort of thing gets.
What the hell are you gonna put up against that?
You tried to fight me with a half-lie and a grossly unfair tactic, stuff entirely typical of the gun-control movement and its propaganda.
I’ll bet you didn’t come up with this. I bet you read it somewhere.
Somebody fed you this lie. Somebody wound you up, gave you a nice safe can of dollar store pepper spray, and sent you out to do battle for the Glorious Cause of Citizen Disarmament.
Eventually, you ran up against a real opponent with real guns and real ammo.
If this were a real fight, I’d be wiping spray-can taco sauce from my face, and you’d be dying of two sucking chest wounds and massive blood loss.
Don’t hate me, venom. Not yet. Just wait. This next bit will be short, not least because I need to get up for work in less than six hours.
At some point in the original thread, it looks like you began to realize that the numbers really didn’t line up on your side. And you typed, “Personally, it does not matter to me if one kid dies in a firearm accident or one hundred do vis a vis safety-oriented gun regulation. One death is one too many….”
“One death is too many.” Is 843 deaths also too many? How about the six thousand five hundred kids between the ages of 1 to 19 killed by cars? Is that too many? Are you seriously gonna take people’s cars away from them? Really?
Compared to other risks, accidental child death by firearms barely rises above the noise.
Even if you could, in fact, take away the guns — which you can’t, particularly not from the bad guys — it would barely make a dent in accidental child death.
Do you really think you can make people safe by taking away their tools?
Do you really think you can make people safe by taking away their liberty, their freedom, their control over their own safety, their control over their own lives?
Do you really think that tyranny is safer than liberty?
That’s the Core Boss Lie, venomlash, that people cannot be trusted with their own lives.
Gun control isn’t about controlling guns, kid. It’s about controlling you.
That’s why the Second Amendment prohibits infringing the right of the American People to own and carry the only class of tools, other than the printing press, protected by the Constitution.
Together, the First and Second Amendments establish a Fourth Branch of government: We, The People, ourselves. We rule here, venomlash. We rule across every square inch of America. We have the right to speak our minds, the right to argue, even the right to shout at our Congress Creeps at town meetings ["peaceably assemble and petition the government for the redress of grievances", it says here] — and we have the right to back up the babble with deadly force if we can’t our dedicated public servants a.k.a. the State to pay attention any other way. Good help is so hard to find, you know.
Let me turn your comment around, venomlash. Vis a vis the Second Amendment, it doesn’t matter to me if one kid or a thousand die in gun accidents.
Not that I don’t care about the kids themselves; I do, and I hate it that we can’t save each and every one of them. Not because I love me my guns more than I love the lives of all the little children.
It’s because I believe history shows, unequivocally, that the alternative to a thousand accidental child deaths a year is children and their parents dying by the tens and hundreds of thousands, by the millions, at the hands of jack-booted thugs on the orders of tyrants who swear they are honestly, really, truly, only trying to protect us from ourselves and each other.
I may shoot myself in the foot. I may shoot my niece in a range accident. I may go crazy and shoot up the office.
But I will be go to hell and fry in the devil’s skillet before I will meekly get on that train, and take my free ride to the showers, or kneel in front of the ditch and wait for the bulldozer to push me in still breathing.
You’ve been lied to, venom. You’ve been lied to, and used, and wadded up and thrown away, by people who think you are an idiot who will shut up and do as he’s told, because, hey, it’s not like you can fight back or anything, you having voluntarily given up your arms, and the force of will to use them.
Here’s Poor Richard himself, good old Ben Franklin, “The only President of the United States who was never President of the United States”:
They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
As I said, I’m opening comments, as a gesture of good faith.
But before you start shitting all over my blog again, comment here and let me know that you read this.
Don’t try to argue every point, because, guess what? I really don’t care. Just let me know: Are you still willing to stand by “all the kids who die because their parents leave their guns lying around loaded” debate point? If so, explain exactly what changes in the law will achieve that. (Note that “changes” means you will have to explain what the law is.)
Are you still willing to trade liberty for safety?
Read, study, think. Talk. Ask questions, even here. You’re still young, you may not even be a member of the unorganized militia yet (USC TITLE 10 > Subtitle A > PART I > CHAPTER 13 > § 311, by the way, if you want to check.), you’ve get plenty of time to get things straight now; before you’re an old fart like I was even ten years ago.
Please, please, please: Read the Reference links in my side bar. Look up the Washington D.C. v Heller Supreme Court case, read the decision[PDF], read at least the briefs of the two principals (That would be D.C. and Heller, themselves) if not the all the amicus briefs (there’s more than a hundred of those, and they’re heavy going.)
Check out the laws in your state, and figure out how hard your elected officials have made it for you to exercise one of your fundamental, constitutionally-protected, un-infringe-able liberties.
Go back to the original thread, and read my comments again. Every time I say “do your homework, and report back”, that’s a flag that I could do an analysis like this one on that point, because I myself have already done that homework. You should learn to do that too, now that I’ve showed you how.
Think about the people who set you up for this fight, and ask yourself if you really want to trust them with you life. They don’t trust you with their lives, or even your own.
That’s the big difference between them and me. They think that they are competent to judge you and me, to decide if we’re competent to take care of ourselves. (Answer: almost always “no”.) They’ve tricked you into agreeing with them.
I, on the other hand, assume you are competent to own, carry, and operate even a real, honest-to-Stoner assault rifle.
If you can, get a gun. Get trained. Practice. Become “well regulated”.
If you want to see the sort of thing “well-regulated” could turn into if the control freaks meant what they said about “right to form a militia”, the sort of thing that would be an actual compromise in gun policy, check out my plan for training a real citizens’ militia, here and here.
Choose your ground well. Stand your ground. And equip yourself to do so.
Understand that if you do all the homework I’ve assigned, and still don’t agree with me, you will have become a formidable debating opponent. You might have a career in the law, or even politics. You might even convince me. I’d rather have that, than continue to see you as the wishy-washy weakling you’ve shown yourself to be in this debate.
(The last time somebody made such a poor showing in front of me, it was my toddler niece, crumbs all over her face, trying to convince me that no, she hadn’t stolen any of the forbidden cookies, and besides, she didn’t know they were forbidden. She was a lot cuter than you are, though.)
You are my fellow citizen, and I trust you with my life, if only because I can shoot back if it turns out you are untrustworthy. (And because I frankly think you’re probably a decent guy, when you’re not being a statist mouthpiece.) I hope you can trust me in the same way.
The day may come, soon, before I die of old age, when we might meet in the trenches, in an alley, in some dark dungeon, and please that we would meet as brothers in arms, and not as enemies.
We will certainly not meet as fellow slaves, because I, for one, will be dead first.
Good luck, and God Bless, whatever that may mean.
[Good morning! I left this thing in kind of a mess last night, but I'm back at the keyboard again, briefly, and have made a few edits. There may be more edits later, particularly to the last part with all the fiery, ill-considered rhetoric, if I get the chance. Till then....]
[More edits, nothing substantial. Except for minor typos, I'm probably pretty well done.]
[More edits, mostly adding links. Fixes for clarity and flow. Thanks, venom, for goading me into writing this. I'm tweaking it because I have a feeling I'm going to be referring to it often.]