Quantcast
Opinion

My View: Insist on evidence, not just stats

Comments

Return To Article
  • Roland Kayser Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Feb. 1, 2013 1:07 a.m.

    "One death is a tragedy. A million deaths are a statistic."--Joseph Stalin

  • one vote Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 1, 2013 2:39 a.m.

    Ban them.

  • Beverly Eden, UT
    Feb. 1, 2013 6:39 a.m.

    If twenty dead children is not enough hard evidence, I don't know what is? The FBI statistics, you quote, are those murdered with a gun. The number of people included in deaths by gun violence includes accidental deaths and suicides with a gun. There are twelve times as many gun deaths in homes that have guns in them than gun deaths that occur in homes that do not have a gun in them. Close to 30,000 people in America die each year from gun deaths. I simply ask, "Should we ignore the possible deaths of 30,000 people who will die next year from gun violence?" As the President has said, "We can do better." There have been several accidental gun deaths in Utah in the past few months. We can do better.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    Feb. 1, 2013 6:53 a.m.

    "One has to also wonder the logic of banning assault rifles when there is no outcry to ban the weapons used in the 4,081 non gun related murders of the same year. "

    See, this is where the author has himself cherry picked stats to try to make his own point. The more salient question would be how many deaths by incident by gun type. If these 4,081 deaths were the result of 4,081 individual incidents... the death rate would be completely different than to the recent event where 26 people were killed in a single event.

    The problem with assault weapons is that they are not precision weapons. They rely on spray and pray - max number of bullets in air in the shortest period of time. They are built on the premise of number of hits per second - not precision of hits. In the last event, it was 26 dead from one killer. I doubt the kill rate in those other 4,081 deaths was anywhere near that ratio.

    The issue is how many can you kill before you have to stop, think, reload. Its deaths per minute. Its number of people killed per incident.

  • Christian 24-7 Murray, UT
    Feb. 1, 2013 8:16 a.m.

    Beverly

    "If twenty dead children is not enough hard evidence, I don't know what is?"

    The gun did not break into the school and kill 29 children, a 'man' (using the term loosely) did. We know how to keep a gun from killing, don't squeeze the trigger. How do you keep such people from killing? There are plenty of other weapons around, and instructions for bomb making widely available. He could have still killed just as many, or more, with other available weapons. Remember Timothy McVeigh? Killed 145 people, 19 were children in a daycare-without firing military style assault weapon, or any gun for that matter.

  • ECR Burke, VA
    Feb. 1, 2013 8:36 a.m.

    Christian 24-7 So glad you mentioned the Oklahoma City bombing. While much more can and should be done to stop terrorist attacks such as that, at least in June 1995, Congress enacted legislation requiring chemical taggants to be incorporated into dynamite and other explosives so that a bomb could be traced to its manufacturer. In 2008, Honeywell announced that it had developed a nitrogen-based fertilizer that would not detonate when mixed with fuel oil. The company got assistance from the Department of Homeland Security to develop the fertilizer (Sulf-N 26) for commercial use. It uses ammonium sulfate to make the fertilizer less explosive.

    In other words, Congress and a private company have worked together to make a potentially unsafe situation better. Instead of making hyperbolic statements about the government taking away their rights, Honeywell joined in and became part of the solution instead of part of the problem. Wouldn't it be nice if the gun manufacturers and their surrogates at the NRA and on the pages of this newspaper would do the same?

  • louie Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Feb. 1, 2013 8:38 a.m.

    American families are already at risk. I ask anyone to challenge these facts. With guns or a gun in the home the odds of dying from suicide, accidental death, or being shot by a family member are each greater by far than being killed by a home intruder. And now add assault weapons to the controversy. Lets think about it and make a rational choice.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    Feb. 1, 2013 8:48 a.m.

    You're right, you can prove anything with stats. The article nicely did that. So maybe we need to move away from a purely statistical discussion. Maybe it's oversimplification to reduce gun deaths to numbers, or people who think they need assault rifles to 'consumers'. They're not buying toilet paper or beer, they're buying assault rifles. Newtown, and the shootings since, have made one thing evident. What we've done up to this point hasn't worked. We need to change things.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    Feb. 1, 2013 9:37 a.m.

    The author makes some compelling points. Per Roger Brinner, "The plural of anecdote is not 'data'"

    I don't think his points mean we have no problem to solve. But rather, we need to look a little harder at the various claims made on both sides. Otherwise we can produce a lot of movement and no real action.

  • one old man Ogden, UT
    Feb. 1, 2013 9:52 a.m.

    Whatever we do, let's make sure there is real WISDOM behind it.

  • Open Minded Mormon Everett, 00
    Feb. 1, 2013 9:59 a.m.

    I'm surprised by Jon Bouwhuis's letter.

    As a former USAF veteran myself,
    he should know FULL well the safety precaucions we were REQUIRED and ORDERED to follow around any and all weapons and weapon systems.

    Did Jon not remember that all rifles were locked in a gun safe and armory?

    Does he not re-call that safety pins were never pulled and weapon armed until the last possible second during the final EOR (end-of-runway) munitions inspections before and after take-off?

    Does he suddenly forget that all weapons operators must never be alone, a buddy system if case someone did goe "rougue" the other guy could take them out?

    Does he forget the extensive background checks, physical AND Mental evaluations, training, certifications, and qualification we needed to pass in order to even TOUCH a weapon?

    Does he forget the penalties we would be subject to IN ADDITION to any and all civilian laws and penalties if we ever did break the law?

    Sure - let civilians have military type weapons.
    Just make sure they are kept and held to the same level of safety and training for those wepaons as we were held to in the Military.

  • Beverly Eden, UT
    Feb. 1, 2013 10:24 a.m.

    The response to my question, "What should we do in America about the fact that, every year, 30,000 people will die in the U.S. from gun violence?" The answer to my questions is always a defense in support of doing nothing, or it is consistently the NRA's rhetoric about arming more people. I own guns and I'm not afraid of my government. I'm looking for suggestions to stop gun violence. From mass shootings in schools, malls, and movie theaters, to teenage suicides and accidental shootings in America's homes, I'm seeking suggestions. As the President said, "We can do better." What is your recommendation to help prevent the consistent, year in and year out, the fact that 30,000 people will die each year from gun violence if we do nothing??

  • one old man Ogden, UT
    Feb. 1, 2013 10:25 a.m.

    May I nominate Open Minded Mormon's post here as the POST OF THE MONTH? Or maybe even of the year?

    Thank you for injecting some much needed sanity into the discussion.

  • Lagomorph Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 1, 2013 11:02 a.m.

    As one who was educated in the sciences where citing references is standard practice, I applaud the author's suggestion. I used to participate on the talk.origins usenet board, where the debate is vigorous and occasionally vicious. If you couldn't back up a claim with a publication citation there (and a real one from the primary literature, not just Newsweek or a blog), you got hammered hard. They had very high standards for supporting evidence. Unfortunately, the DesNews 200 word limit and ban on hyperlinks works against that. Why sacrifice 20 words for a citation?

    I see numerous logical fallacies on this board in the gun discussions, especially confusing correlation with causation and confounding different types of data (claims that more die from cars than from guns, which conflates accidental deaths with intentional homicides-- apples and oranges). As others have observed, the author is not immune to this himself (nor am I).

    While I disagree with his conclusions, I hope the author's goal of raising the standard of debate is achieved.

    Twin Lights: "The plural of anecdote is not 'data'"
    Absolutely love the quote. Thanks for citing your source.

  • thatthatguy Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Feb. 1, 2013 11:19 a.m.

    Heh, Mr. Bouwhuis cites stats on falls, and claims that no one is interested in reducing them. Considering the level of fall protection training I go through at work, I'd say that there is a great deal of interest in minimizing injuries and deaths from falls. The same can be said for automobile accidents, chemical exposure, food safety, and nearly every other hazard we are exposed to. A great deal of thought and effort is put into how to help people protect themselves.

    Firearms seem to be a glaring hole in this equation. The primary purpose of a firearm is to injure and kill. Weapons are dangerous, by definition. The only way to minimize that danger is through training and evaluation. I strongly support closing the background check loopholes. Gunshows and personal sales need to require a check, just like a sale from any store. Gun owners need to be prepared to prove they are able and willing to handle their weapons safely before taking them home.

    I believe the second amendment gives us each the individual right to bear arms. I also believe that we must be prepared to accept the risks and responsibilities of that right.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    Feb. 1, 2013 1:06 p.m.

    Insisting on evidence is a criterion just as applicable to blaming movies, video games, etc. Bowhuis here confines it to the gun question. Both sides share the same hypocrisy, don't they?

    Guns are at issue even if these recent mass shootings had not occurred. Likewise for criticisms of popular culture and negligence in the area of mental health. We can apply common sense in all areas on a case by case basis and not stall on as an overall comprehensive solution continues to be so mind boggling that it promises to perpetually elude us.

    That’s why I favor a ban on assault rifles at the earliest, whether it makes a dent in the mass shooting craze or not. Weapons that make it easy to kill a lot of people fast are an immediate threat to public safety that outweighs any hypothetical benefits of availability for public access without even minimal safeguards.

  • Flashback Kearns, UT
    Feb. 1, 2013 1:09 p.m.

    I love the anti-gun nuts and the usual rhetoric. Never changes.

    I know at least 12 people who I have been aquainted with in my life that have committed suicide. Only 1 used a gun. Most OD'd (two on Lortab so let's ban that), three used their cars (a tree, a concrete wall at over 60 MPH with no seatbelt, one car running in the garage), a couple slashed their wrists, and one walked into traffic (so technically he used a car), one dived off of a cliff.

    Until everyone gets into their head that guns, by themselves do nothing, then we can have an intelligent discussion about criminals and crazy people.

  • Lagomorph Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 1, 2013 1:35 p.m.

    It's difficult to have either statistics or evidence to support a claim when no one collects the data. For years the NRA has backed riders to appropriations legislation that effectively prohibits CDC funding for gun violence research. How can you have an honest discussion of the issue when you are legally barred from collecting the relevant data? You can't make decent decisions or good policy in an environment of ignorance. Fortunately, one of President Obama's 27 action items on gun policy is to direct the CDC that it can conduct research on gun violence. This has nothing to do with the Second Amendment, gun ownership, registration, keeping and bearing, rights, etc. It is only about science and obtaining the information needed to make sound decisions. I don't see how anyone who claims to be an honest broker in the discussion can object.

    @Flashback: Please refer to the Briner quote in the Twin Lights comment.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    Feb. 1, 2013 1:59 p.m.

    Flashback - what do you think would happen to death rates in cars if we allowed unlimited horsepower, we didn't require any certification to drive one, and that car dealers were legislated as little as gun dealers?

    What has happened is the NRA has arranged for legislation that has gutted the ATFs abilty to do their jobs, have denied the ability to have anyone nominated to lead the agency for over 5 years, and have insisted that any types of safety restrictions are a breach of gun owner rights. Parents let their 14 year old drive a car, they have sever consequences. Tell a parent they need to safe guard their weapons from their 14 years old - and you have a constitutional crises.

    And I have no idea what is happening to your friends... but 12 that have ended their lives? That is extreme. There are other issues at play there. These are exactly the mentally unstable people I don't want deciding what is safe and unsafe to do with guns.

  • TheProudDuck Newport Beach, CA
    Feb. 1, 2013 2:44 p.m.

    We definitely need limits on magazine capacity to cut down on the number of gun suicides.

    Regarding "assault" weapons, can any anti-gun person supply a persuasive argument as to why an "assault" weapon like an AR-15 is significantly more dangerous, in the context of crime or a spree shooting, than a non-"assault" rifle like the Ruger Mini-14?

    Same caliber, same rate of fire, same muzzle velocity. Why do you want to ban the one and not the other?

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    Feb. 1, 2013 2:46 p.m.

    Among the fallout of the slaughter of grade school children in Newtown is how the NRA’s relationship to gun owners is coming into public light. It's about time. We gun owners are not the natural constituency of the NRA and do not espouse their extreme views.

    We don’t need the NRA to fight for our 2nd Amendment rights. Nor are we blind to the NRA role on behalf of the gun manufacturing industry which enjoys the best lobbying that money can buy. An NRA spokesman who wraps himself in the flag to go on national television is a circus clown. The gun owners of America can and should take back the 2nd Amendment to keep it from becoming becoming extinct by further exploitation for money.

  • TheProudDuck Newport Beach, CA
    Feb. 1, 2013 2:47 p.m.

    As for the "gun owners more likely to get shot" stat, control for demographics, or it's useless.

    Also, a majority of gun deaths are suicides. (1) How many of those deaths would just go away if guns were not available, as opposed to being replaced by another method; (2) what do magazine capacity limits and "assault weapons" bans have to do with suicides -- you don't really need a high-capacity magazine or the various cosmetic "assault weapons" features to shoot yourself in the head; and (3) I thought liberals were in favor of suicide. Personal autonomy, "my body, my choice," the "right to die" and all that.

    You have a right to die, I guess, unless you do it with an Evil Boomstick.

  • TheProudDuck Newport Beach, CA
    Feb. 1, 2013 2:49 p.m.

    "Newtown, and the shootings since, have made one thing evident. What we've done up to this point hasn't worked. We need to change things."

    Agreed.

    1. Ban all secular liberals from owning guns. They are behind the vast majority of spree shootings, and demographics that vote Democrat are responsible for virtually all of America's elevated homicide rate.

    2. Require everyone to go to church. A disproportionate number of spree killers are not regular churchgoers.

    Who cares if these things actually work, or if they infringe on people's rights. We've got to Do Something!

  • Lagomorph Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 1, 2013 4:01 p.m.

    Let's just adopt Gov. Herbert's approach to air quality to gun violence. We will just encourage people not to commit violent acts with guns any time the levels of violence get too high. Already three gun murders today? Put a red stoplight icon on the front page of the newspaper and ask people not to shoot anyone (knives and cudgels would still be OK, I suppose). Voluntary compliance, that's the ticket. Nobody's second amendment rights get trampled and the problem is solved.
    /sarcasm

    As to those who are concerned that gun laws only restrict law abiding citizens, that's the case with every law. Speed limits restrict safe drivers. Embezzlement laws hinder law-abiding bank tellers. Food safety rules limit hygienic cooks. So what else is new?

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    Feb. 1, 2013 5:53 p.m.

    "Most of us easily know 12 people who committed suicide unless we have some sort of anti-social disorder. I can name at least 2 former co-workers, 1 immediate family member and 3 extended family members (3rd and 4th cousins) who killed themselves in the last 8 years."

    Wow... I have known 1 who took his life after a failed marriage. Thats it. Says something about our society that such an act isn't that rare in certain parts. I have of course heard of others, but none that were associations of my own. But I stand by my point, that these are the types of people who value life a little different than others, and who I would hope would not have ready access to guns. Taking life should be tough, guns make it way too easy.

  • freedomingood provo, Utah
    Feb. 1, 2013 9:09 p.m.

    The fact remains that you don't need a gun to protect your family at all. Look up the FBI's list of measures to secure a home and it's not even on the list.

    And to assume you have the right to shoot at the government if you don't like it means what?

    You think there is anything in the second amendment that makes it legal to overthrow the government? That's what you are claiming.

    We still have a democracy or republic as it were. So you are assuming that YOU will be in a minority view and that gives you the right to overthrow the government because the rest of us don't agree with you? Obviously if we all agreed with gun nuts you wouldn't be concerned with forcing the government to change with gunfire.

  • KWMerican Houston, TX
    Feb. 1, 2013 11:50 p.m.

    In 2009, my 16 year old son was able to fight off an armed and violent home invader (murderer). The only reason my son lived was because he had access to a large capacity semi-automatic rifle.

    In 2010, a 15 boy just down the road from me protected himself and his 12 year old sister from multiple home invaders. One was a wanted rapist. The boy used his dad AR-15 rifle to fight off the aggressors.

    Also in 2010, I had to fight off multiple assailants using a semi-automatic rifle with a 30 round magazine.

    I moved.

    This accounts for 4 lives saved by these rifles in just ONE neighborhood. Stories like ours happen all the time, but are not reported nationally. These weapons SAVE lives...FAR more are saved than are murdered (which is only about 75 per year, compared to 12,000 murders with pistols).

    Take away these rifles, and many innocent lives will be lost...more than lost at Sandy Hook.

    I'll try to put some links in a follow-up post.

  • Salsero Provo, UT
    Feb. 2, 2013 12:02 a.m.

    Responsible gun owners in the NRA need to voice their concerns and not let the NRA leadership lead them on the path of accepting increased gun violence so others can continue having the opportunity to have weapons just like the military.

    Responsible gun owners are not opposed to universal background checks. They support them almost 100%. They do not need military-style assault weapons for hunting. They don't need multi-capacity clips for hunting or target shooting. They do not see any threat to the Second Amendment in the discussion today.

    Responsible gun owners need to have their voices heard in this debate and not yeild to the crazy talk of irresponsible advocates of the gun industry.

  • PeanutGallery Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 2, 2013 1:09 a.m.

    Great letter. Congratulations for bringing this issue back to reality, and for bringing some facts into the debate about guns. Emotion and inaccurate (or incomplete) information are a great recipe for creating very bad public policy.

  • Open Minded Mormon Everett, 00
    Feb. 2, 2013 1:49 a.m.

    When they take away our vote -
    Then, and only then - will I'll support you with your Anti-Government guns.

  • Longfellow Holladay, UT
    Feb. 2, 2013 8:06 a.m.

    UtahBlueDevil stated: "The problem with assault weapons is that they are not precision weapons. They rely on spray and pray - max number of bullets in air in the shortest period of time."

    You are in good company, neither most journalists, letter writers, or commenters understand the technology and so make error filled statements. First, there is no such device as an "Assault Weapon". When you use the term "spray" you are referring a medium caliber auto fire weapon called an "Assault Rifles" which is a military weapon and rarely owned by civilians. Second, the false term Assault Weapon is usually used to refer to certain semi-automatic rifles that look like military rifles. Semi-automatic rifle technology has been around for almost 100 years and is common in modern hunting rifles. Third, gun control advocates also want to ban semi-automatic versions of "Main Battle Rifles". These semi-automatic rifles fire large caliber rounds and are almost never used in the commission of a crime because they are too large and heavy. However, they are used widely in national rifle markmanship competitions. Spend five minutes with Wikipedia or the Encyclopedia Britannica and get your facts straight.

  • freedomingood provo, Utah
    Feb. 2, 2013 8:22 p.m.

    Look up reviews on youtube for assault rifles. They will tell you boldly how much better they are for killing than your average rifle.

    Gun nuts on here will tell you the .22 is the same as a .223 and the weapons they pay 10 times as much for and are all out of stock are just the black painted versions of regular guns. "Nothing to see here, we just want the black ones even though they are the same."

    But it's not too hard at all to find the truth. Your own gun magazines and reviews go on and on about why you should want the assault "tactical" weapon that costs a lot more.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    Feb. 2, 2013 9:10 p.m.

    Longfellow - I get your point, but when most people refer to assault rifles, most people understand what you mean. For instance, some call what I have for home protection, a Benelli M4 Super 90, as a an assault weapon. One could argue if it is an offensive or defensive weapon. I like it because it isn't built on the premise of filling the air with as much lead as possible - which the AR and AKs are. They are NOT precision weapons. They are built to fill another need. My M4, while being a semi - hold only 7 rounds plus one in the chamber. It isn't built to kill 26 people in the minimum amount of time. I don't need 100 round magazines to do what I need to do. To me it is purely defensive. I just don't see why you need high capacity magazines to protect your family.

    I hope to never have to use this weapon for its intended purpose. In the meantime, it has made a mess of a lot of 1 liter bottles.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    Feb. 4, 2013 12:18 p.m.

    "Ban all secular liberals from owning guns. They are behind the vast majority of spree shootings, and demographics that vote Democrat are responsible for virtually all of America's elevated homicide rate."
    ______________________________

    Short on statistics, big on sweeping generalizations, and selective about which Americans the 2nd Amendment should apply to. Strongest argument I’ve heard for why liberals should hang onto their guns. When the South produced its Robert E. Lee, the North was forced to find its William Tecumseh Sherman who gave Johnny Reb such a fill of gun violence that he never had a taste for more of it afterwards.

    Liberals learned of gun violence in the jungles of Vietnam or on patrol in Iraq in areas where insurgents were known to be. Like most men who have fought in combat, they come home knowing that having fought in a war, they never want to see another one up close.

    Just a little something for right wingers to reflect on when holding their assault rifle while gazing admiringly into a mirror to see what a tough guy looks like and anticipating the day they’ll take up arms against their own government.

  • Wally West SLC, UT
    Feb. 4, 2013 7:55 p.m.

    Why does the average person need to be as well armed as an Army Ranger or your local police SWAT?

    Answer that and the problem IMO goes away.

    For those who think they need to be Rambo to go hunting; I suggest reading Sigmund Freud.