One of the joys of publishing written diatribe for public consumption is the comments and feedback from the… internet. Consider this recent example.
Phil from Australia writes…
I’m glad I live in Australia, with controlled gun ownership, where all guns must be locked away. EG. I read a story where a 3 year old boy shoots himself…….go figure.
Well there you have it. A random anecdote trumps decades of factual data, at least in Phil’s mind.
But when you step back and look at a comment like this, it just illustrates the real challenge behind the gun debate. You see, Phil is not alone. Think about how many people have their views about gun policy shaped by random “I heard that…” anecdotes.
I heard about a shark attack once. But that didn’t stop me from taking showers. For long.
If one invests about four minutes to research the gun debate, it becomes pretty darn clear that guns themselves aren’t the driving issue for crime. Gun ownership is way up. Crime is way down. When folks aren’t robbed of their rights of self-protection, crime falls. Accidents are at an all time low. The vast majority of gun-related crime involves convicted felons. Guns are used far, far more frequently to prevent people from getting hurt than for hurting people. Let me repeat that.
Guns are used far, far more frequently to prevent people from getting hurt than for hurting people. In other words, a rational look at the data to examine the pros and cons of gun use yields a clear result. Guns save lives.
So what has so much power to trump decades of historical data and cause people to hold so dearly to viewpoints that have no basis in fact?
Hint: It’s fear.
You see, the power of fear is mind-bottling. You know, just like Chazz Michael Michaels so eloquently explained. “You know, when things are so crazy it gets your thoughts all trapped, like in a bottle?”
Phil is a perfect example of the power of the fear mentality.
You see, Phil lives in a country where children are 94.3 times more likely to be eaten by a crocodile than win a regional spelling bee. Well, maybe I made that statistic up, but I’m sure it’s happened at least once, so that pretty much settles the argument.
Conclusion? If you don’t want to become croc-lunch, practice spelling the word “insouciant.”
I decided to consult famed behavioral psychiatrist, Dr. Emil Shuffhausen, to explore Phil’s case further. Based on preliminary analysis, there are a number of other things that frighten Phil.
At risk of causing Phil more undue stress, I want to point out some other hazards of living in Australia.
- 715 people died tripping, slipping and stumbling, which makes one think Fosters Beer should be locked away.
- 26 Australians fell off chairs to their earthly end. Consider working in the Lotus position. Yoga is all the rage right now.
- 58 people died just falling out of bed, although there are not footnotes on which activity immediately proceeded these tragic accidents.
- Australians are equally susceptible to death from human bites as dog bites. No comment.
- More venomous arthropod warning signs might be in order, as urticating caterpillars are more likely to kill than crocodile attacks or earthquakes.
But here’s the thing. People like Phil aren’t really concerned with all these other potential hazards. Why?
Fear dominates attitude towards guns because people don’t assign any potential benefits to gun ownership – they only consider the negatives.
That’s right. When subconsciously evaluating the cost / benefit of various life activities, which might kill us, people always consider the benefit side of the equation for things like swimming, walking, sitting, sleeping and even keeping pet urticating caterpillars. Yes, any of these activities can be lethal, but that’s OK because a larger upside is perceived to balance the risks.
We all just assume there are plenty of benefits to sleeping, sitting and caterpillar husbandry, right?
So Phil, and others like you: Be intellectually honest about the debate. There are always two sides to any decision. Even a fart has benefits, so consider the other side of the scale before opining on gun control.
Oh, and Phil. One more thing. Nine people died in Australia last year as a result of horse-drawn vehicle incidents.
I sure am glad I live in a country with controlled horsepower transportation, where New York’s new Mayor is banning horse-drawn carriage tours.
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