There’s a war going on in this country. Well, maybe not a war, but a duel, at the very least. The duel is over gun control, with our side and theirs battling back and forth using data as our weapons. They trot out a study that claims gun control works or is popular and we set about to debunk that data.
They do the same when we bring out data saying the opposite.
However, someone asked me a question this morning that I wanted to address a bit more broadly. “Tom, what kind of data would prompt you to change your opinions on gun control?”
Now, this is an interesting question. I’ve often asked people if there could be any data that would change their opinion on a subject, so it’s only fair that someone asked me the same question.
So let’s imagine a world where there really wasn’t any information suggesting that gun control didn’t work. Let’s say the anti-gun Meccas were considerably safer than pro-gun states and cities in such a way that it’s obvious to everyone. How would that impact my thoughts on gun control?
Well, it wouldn’t.
See, when I ask people what data would make them rethink their position, it’s because their position is fundamentally framed as being data-driven. As such, data running completely counter to what they think should also play a factor in their decision-making process. When it doesn’t, it’s fair to ask why and what data set would make a difference.
My support for gun rights isn’t predicated on data.
Sure, I use data regularly to support gun rights and to oppose gun control, but that’s not the reason I oppose those kinds of laws. As such, data won’t really sway me one way or another.
Instead, my support for gun rights stems from my belief that our rights are sacred, something that should not be touched no matter what else is happening in the world.
Yes, I believe that for all of my rights just as equally.
See, I’m fairly absolutist when it comes to our rights. I won’t tolerate restrictions on my right to free speech or my right to worship as I so choose so no, I won’t just roll over on my Second Amendment rights–rights that predated the amendment, just to be clear–simply because being free can be messy.
The problem too many people have is that they believe the world should be clean, sterile, and that we should all live in perfect safety and stability. They want to restrict what we can say on social media or in the real world to some degree. They want to restrict what can be said or done in church, particularly if it spills over into politics somehow. And yeah, they want to restrict our gun rights.
But the problem is that even if it would work, it’s still infringing on our basic liberties as human beings.
Any government with enough authority to ensure perfect safety is one that can turn that same authority on whoever they find inconvenient. You’ll find that the safety you craved was really just window dressing. What you got was totalitarianism with some fancy decorations to hide what it truly was.
Freedom is messy. It’s chaotic. It’s so chaotic that I don’t want to live in a country without any government to speak of, but the bounds of that government need to be clear and those established lines protected. Our Founding Fathers looked at government as a kind of necessary evil, and I share that view.
Yet to embrace gun control is to trust the government far more than it should be trusted. Remember, this is the same government that conducted the Tuskeegee Syphilis Study. This is the same government that engaged in the MK-Ultra experiments.
So no, no amount of data could possibly change my mind on gun control because my opinions about it arose independently of any data showing that it doesn’t work. For me, it’s a moral position. It’s the proverbial hill I’m willing to die on.
And, considering the alternatives, it’s also the literal hill I’m willing to die on.