Saturday, March 14, 2015

Quote of the Day — Beth Alcazar (March 10, 2015)

Today's Quote of the Day comes from Beth Alcazar's article at the USCCA entitled, "The Problem With Statistics":
According to them, and to these vast collections of statistics, there is a direct correlation between gun ownership and gun accidents. To that I say, well, of course there is. Isn’t that kind of a pointless statement? For instance, wouldn’t it also be much more likely for someone to have a fireplace accident in the home if there is, indeed, a fireplace located somewhere inside?


The thing that a lot of people seem to overlook with these statistics is that guns don’t automatically equal violence. Period. To believe that extreme, you may also have to believe that alcohol automatically leads to alcoholism and that a sweet tooth automatically yields gluttony. Preposterous, right? There are just too many factors, circumstances, experiences, values, and decisions involved for it to be “that easy.”
As anyone who's studied statistics knows, correlation does not equal causation. Just because the numbers show that variable 'A' and variable 'B' seem to be related does not prove that 'A' causes 'B', or that 'B' causes 'A'.

Now, the argument over our rights should not depend on statistics. Rights are rights, regardless of how distasteful someone else might find them. I don't begrudge our opponents' right to own and use computers and the Internet, even though they use them to attack my rights; indeed, a computer and the Internet is precisely how I engage and resist!*

But because our opponents do invoke statistics, and because statistics is a language politicians and bureaucrats understand, we must be able to present the other side — the one our opponents would just as soon remain unstated. Or, as Professor Aaron Levenstein says (also quoted by Ms. Alcazar), "Statistics are like bikinis. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital." (There. You got a two-fer QOTD today. You're welcome!)

Forgive the innuendo, but we should be prepared to rip the coverings off and reveal the whole truth in all its beautiful glory!

Stay safe.

* - It's been said, most notably after the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris, that the only proper answer to calls for restricting free speech is more free speech. I'd argue this principle applies to other rights, as well.


  1. Excellent reminder of the scope of statistics.

    I'd clarify that it does not matter if 99% of my fellow Americans felt I did not "need" to own firearms, they would still have ZERO moral authority to strip me of my right to do so.

    I simply don't remember seeing anywhere in the Constitution that any of my rights can be nullified if some "study" shows that the p-value is less than 0.05 (so statistically significant).

    Remember, our Constitution is designed to constrain our government with only specific powers and several guarantees for the rights of citizens. It is not malleable, it is not an a la carte menu of choices such that you get your First Amendment right, but the government can piss on your Second Amendment right because it is now fashionable to do so.

    1. "I'd clarify that it does not matter if 99% of my fellow Americans felt I did not "need" to own firearms, they would still have ZERO moral authority to strip me of my right to do so."

      I'd expand on that with a paraphrase from The Tam. It doesn't matter if 99% of other gun owners went out and held up a convenience store or murdered someone last night; they still have ZERO moral authority to strip me of my rights if I wasn't one of them.

      I agree on our Constitution: it grants specific powers to government and -- for the purpose of safeguarding citizens' rights -- contains specific constraints on legitimate use of that power. However, it is amendable and somewhat open to interpretation. I think two of the most dangerous (if not THE two most dangerous) events since the ratification are the passing of the 16th Amendment and the finding in Wickard v. Filburn. For reference, those are the federal income tax amendment, and the decision that set up Congress to do practically ANYTHING under its power to "regulate interstate commerce" (in this case, regulating production of items that never enter the interstate market, on the grounds that this buyer would be less-forced to buy from that market; also note that it stems from a Great-Depression-era "Progressive" "stimulus plan").

      The government doesn't care for First Amendment rights any more than it cares for Second Amendment rights; it's just, as you say, more fashionable to attack the Second as a whole, and the First in part -- in particular, freedom of religion, freedom of association, and freedom of the "citizen press" (i.e. "New Media", a.k.a. Internet journalists and bloggers) are under harsh attack. Once those are gone, though, how long will the rest last?

    2. Oops, my reply did not stick.

      Here is the gist.

      I shamelessly stole/modified/adapted the quote at the beginning. However, mine is more subtle that even their disagreement with my firearms ownership without any provocation by a massive majority of citizens does not negate my Constitutionally guaranteed right.

      The same goes for my First Amendment rights and the rest of the BOR, etc.

      They have to go through the whole Amendment process to try to take it away, but then we can get into the whole Natural rights argument that the Constitution does not grant these rights, it merely recognizes and affirms them. Self defense is intrinsic to every living thing and to say it does not exist is to deny reality.

      Finally, the crucial crux here is that we can survive most attacks on our Bill of Rights except for the Second Amendment. If it is ever gone, all the rest of our rights will evaporate like a raindrop in Saudia Arabia at high noon.

    3. "Finally, the crucial crux here is that we can survive most attacks on our Bill of Rights except for the Second Amendment."

      Agreed. It's the one that guarantees our ability to effectively resist. And SCOTUS agrees, even if they manage to amend the Constitution and remove the Second Amendment, it wouldn't remove our right to self-defense or proper defensive tools. Our rights pre-date the Constitution, and are endowed by a higher power than even Obama's ego.

      But if the Second were removed, God-given or not, the full-frontal assault on the rest of the Bill of Rights would truly begin.

      (On a somewhat side note, I appreciate the thought that the overall health of our Republic can be quickly estimated by examining the overall health of the Second Amendment. I can't for the life of me remember who wrote that, but I think he was right.)

    4. I like the last point. Seems spot on. I think it was someone famous in the firearms community who said that how a politician views our Second Amendment rights is a strong indicator of their respect, or the lack thereof, for the citizens.