On guns, neutrality is hard with biased data

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Gun control advocates seemingly control much of the mainstream media, which is where most people get their news and facts even today. Further, these entities have the ability to put their reports much higher in search results than, say, we do.

As a result, their reporting on guns tends to be the first things people find.

So I understand why so many people are so horribly misinformed. It’s hard to be neutral and present a topic like guns and gun control in an unbiased manner when there’s so much misinformation out there.

I give this guy credit for trying, though.

Just as it’s impossible to know what came first, the chicken or the egg, it’s equally hard to decide which of the two things caused the other when it comes to the relationship between violence and guns in America.

Questions about the origins of poultry’s existence and whether guns are causing the current levels of violence may appear to some to get us nowhere. To me, it’s worth looking at the various shades of gray in such matters ― especially when the black-and-white-only arguments of both sides of the gun control issue have us faced off like a sheriff and an outlaw about to draw on each other, ready to send the loser of the “shootout” to an early grave.

While it’s true, as the National Rifle Association has famously said; “Guns don’t kill people, people do.” It’s equally true that people with guns kill people, and far more efficiently than people without them ― So efficiently, more Americans died of gun-related injuries in 2021 than in any other year on record, according to the latest available statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s also a sad fact that guns have now become the leading cause of death of children and teens in the United States.

Here’s the problem with that whole “more Americans died” statistic: It’s not wrong, but it’s not exactly right, either.

The claim, in and of itself, doesn’t appear to be inaccurate, you see. The problem is that it lacks any relevant context.

You see, in 2021, the homicide rate itself dropped from where it was in 2020 and was well short of the historic highs in the homicide rate.

Even the rate of “gun deaths” was nowhere near historic highs.

So how are the raw numbers a record high but the rate isn’t? Because the rate allows us to compare regardless of population. The historic highs in the rate of gun deaths occurred when there was a smaller total population.

After all, if you have ten people in a population and one is killed with a gun, it’s a higher rate than if you have 100 people and nine are killed with a gun, though nine is a much higher raw total.

Now, as for the rest of the piece, the author does a pretty good job of trying to present an unbiased, neutral view of the topic. I applaud him for that because few people even bother.

He even presents a good pro-gun argument:

RGJ readers who have contacted me for this piece made points like, “The majority, if not all, of the shootings in America are carried out by criminals or other nefarious individuals. Making the good guys helpless will not make the bad guys harmless.” Actor James Earl Jones agrees: “The world is filled with violence. Because criminals carry guns, we decent law-abiding citizens should also have guns. Otherwise, they will win and the decent people will lose.”

An example of that also hit close to home for me. UNR student Amanda Collins was a neighbor and a constituent of mine when I was in the Nevada Assembly. Unable to carry a firearm for protection while on campus, concealed- carry permit holder Collins was raped on the UNR campus by James Biela, a local construction worker who then went on to rape and murder another female student in Reno, Brianna Denison. It haunts Amanda to this day that had she been able to have her concealed firearm with her on the night of her rape, she may not only have stopped Biela from attacking her — but prevented the death of Brianna.

There are a number of stories not unlike that, where a person who would have carried was disarmed and unable to stop an attacker.

The author, Pat Hickey, does his best to show both sides, and I appreciate it.

The problem is that it’s made far more difficult when so much of the information out there is from a supposedly neutral media that tries to hide its bias from the world.