Gun de­bate not about statis­tics

Daily Nation (Barbados) - - Comment -

EVERY TIME A MASS SHOOT­ING hor­ri­fies Amer­ica, gun con­trol ad­vo­cates trot out statis­tics and charts prov­ing that more guns pro­duce more vi­o­lent deaths.

Then pro-gun peo­ple re­spond that the over­all gun homi­cide rate has dropped 50 per cent since 1993, de­spite a boom in gun sales, and point to polls show­ing a de­cline in sup­port for gun reg­u­la­tion. At such times, I am al­ways re­minded of the sham­poo di­rec­tion to “lather, rinse, re­peat”.

Both sides of the gun de­bate are cer­tain that the facts are on their side, and keep mak­ing the same ar­gu­ments over and over to no ef­fect. Amer­ica is dead­locked on gun con­trol be­cause this de­bate is based more on first prin­ci­ples than ev­i­dence. Peo­ple who op­pose re­stric­tions on firearms do so for in­stinc­tual and cul­tural rea­sons, and see gun own­er­ship as a mat­ter of per­sonal lib­erty and safety.

Those who favour stronger gun laws be­lieve statis­tics prove that fewer guns would re­sult in fewer deaths, and that the en­su­ing re­duc­tion in gun deaths would out­weigh any ac­com­pa­ny­ing loss of lib­erty, re­cre­ation or psy­cho­log­i­cal ben­e­fit.

But statis­tics don’t change peo­ple’s minds, es­pe­cially when the sub­ject is so emo­tional and deeply tied to cul­tural iden­tity. To change the sta­tus quo, Amer­ica needs to change how peo­ple FEEL about guns.


PEO­PLE flee­ing gun­fire out­side the Route 91 Har­vest Mu­sic Fes­ti­val in Las Ve­gas, Ne­vada, re­cently. ( FP)

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