Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Moon is Made of Cheese: Gun Control Logic

The terrible events in Colorado have brought back an argument that gets kicked around every few years after a terrible travesty like this happens.  This argument is that there are too many guns in America and that we need stricter regulation to prevent gun violence. This is an issue that I didn't want to blog about, and that I tried to ignore.  Unfortunately I happened to catch a glimpse of  a news program were a talking head was making some pretty fantastic claims, all without the slightest claim to credibility.  In the end I cannot help but blog about an issue that is very near and dear to my heart.  So I will wade into this fray, but apart from a brief introduction of the data, I will be going at it from a different angle.

The angle is that gun grabbers, as they are known derogatorily, being completely unaware, or just ignorant of the evidence, use logically sound arguments along with appeals to peoples emotions.   But there is a paradox to logical arguments, where on the face they appear to be sound, but with deeper examination they are shown to be false.  This not only applies to gun control, but many progressive arguments as well.

 Now this trope that America has too many guns is continually brought up, regardless of the state of gun control in America, and regardless of whether or not gun violence is increasing or decreasing.  A short google search will show you numerous examples of how not only murders, but violent crime in general, has decreased over the years. (though some would argue that perhaps its the result of America becoming overly medicated) Just look at this chart below


This has happened despite gun control becoming less regulated in the United States. The Federal Assault Weapons ban was allowed to sunset in 2004, and conceal carry went from almost no states in the 80s, and the dark days of murder rate almost double what it is now, to 49 states allowing some form of conceal carry in 2012.  Statistical evidence overwhelmingly proves that firearms do not necessarily result in an increase in crime, murder, or even suicide.  There is even a study that published by Harvard, not exactly a bastion of right wing ideology, that examined the data in America as well as in Europe that came to that very conclusion.  They found that gun control had no correlation to reduced or increased murder or suicide in Europe and that in America that gun control had a slightly negative correlation to reducing the murder rate.

Hopefully this small taste of the evidence out there is enough to convince you, if you already were not in the gun rights camp already, that there is some factual basis to the statement that guns do not cause crime nor have any affect on the homicide rate. Now we'll get into the crux of the matter.

The news reporter, or rather performer, kept saying "Even though Chicago has the highest crime right when it haves the strictest gun control laws I believe that it is because there are too many guns out there already."  Essentially he is trying to skirt the issue that Chicago has a murder rate three times that of the US in general, and in fact has seen more people killed in in their *fine* city than Americans killed in a war zone this year,  and make it seem like that its because there are already too many guns in the street and not that gun control is completely ineffective.  Naturally his solution would be to keep the gun control laws as they are and forcibly remove the guns that are circulating in Chicago.  It wouldn't work, Glasgow has strict gun control laws and its the knifing capital of Europe, and yes, Scotland has a murder rate less than half of America's, but it is also more than double other comparable European countries. America is a much more violent society than many other nations in Europe, there are a lot of theories on that, but it that would be a whole other blog post in its entirety.  (Perhaps Save Capitalism would like to weigh in on that matter and offer a non-American viewpoint.) I highly doubt that this man (the reporter) thinks about that.  In his mind his argument and reasoning is sound, and on the face of it is.  But he uses moon logic.

I call this moon logic because it is a case where the logic is sound based on a very limited set of criteria, effectively a bubble if you will. Here is an example of his reasoning. Assuming all these premises to be true:

  • The murder rate in America is high (relative to some western European nations).
  • Guns are used in most homicides in America.
  • Therefore, if we reduce the amount of guns then we reduce the murder rate.
Looks pretty good on the face of it. If we only look at the argument within the confines of the argument itself, you cannot deny the rational behind it.  But here is another argument, that within the confines of the argument, is logically sound, but obviously wrong.

  • The astronauts brought back moon rocks.
  • The moon rocks where made of cheese.
  • Therefore, the moon is made of cheese.

The final conclusion is obviously absurd and wrong, but it is still a logical one.  You may think I am pulling this argument out of thin air.  I am not, this was an example argument given in my GMAT study guide, before I realized that getting an MBA would be a waste of my money and time (Thank you Captain).  In the study guide it was trying to make a point to not use outside influences and experiences while taking the test because it would trip us up.  You see, when you analyze an argument, it only needs be logical if certain criteria are meet.  (You know if A=B and B=C then B=C kind of reasoning)  It doesn't have to be true, its simply a mathematical form of thinking, and if the parts all add up correctly then its a logical statement (remember this is only within the confines of the argument itself).  This is where a lot of individuals make a mistake.  An argument can be logically sound, but factually and empirically wrong.  Gun control arguments, outside of the most emotive ones, are like this.  In fact almost all of progressivism is like this.

Now if you ever point out the fallacy of their arguments, that they are logical but not using true data, you won't convince them.  Their Id will prevent them from accepting it.  I could point this out to that reporter all day until I was blue in the face but it wouldn't matter. However, the point isn't to convince the person making the argument (I have never ever seen an individual swayed by a single argument ever) but to convince those watching you too argue.  As long as you argue with reason you will plant the seed of doubt, or should we say   the red  pill, in someone and eventually they will come to see the world as it is, and not how progressives wish it to be.

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Seattle resident whose real name is Kevin Daniels. This blog covers the following topics, libertarian philosophy, realpolitik, western culture, history and the pursuit of truth from the perspective of a libertarian traditionalist.