Comments about ‘My View: Insist on evidence, not just stats’

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Published: Friday, Feb. 1 2013 12:00 a.m. MST

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Roland Kayser
Cottonwood Heights, UT

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

one vote
Salt Lake City, UT

Ban them.

Eden, UT

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.

Durham, NC

"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


"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.

Burke, VA

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?

Cottonwood Heights, UT

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.

American Fork, UT

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

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

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

Open Minded Mormon
Everett, 00

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.

Eden, UT

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

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.

Salt Lake City, UT

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.

Cottonwood Heights, UT

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

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.

Kearns, UT

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.

Salt Lake City, UT

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.

Durham, NC

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.

Newport Beach, CA

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?

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