Gun Control Logical Fallacy – Ignoring Lives Saved

Gun Control Logical Fallacy - Ignoring Lives Saved
Gun Control Logical Fallacy – Ignoring Lives Saved

Arizona -( A person who dies because they did not have a gun is just as dead as a person who is murdered with a gun. In practice, overall unjustified homicides tend to rise a bit when gun are banned or restricted.

Those who push for disarmed populations use a logical fallacy when arguing for gun restrictions and gun bans. They only count people who are killed with guns, and ignore people who are killed because they were unarmed or disarmed.

This logical fallacy is called an irrelevancy argument. Whenever you see a chart or graph or statistic that uses the terms “gun homicide”, “gun deaths”, “gun suicides” or “gun violence”. The people using it are promoting a logical fallacy.

Used in research, these terms are a blatant case of confirmation bias in data selection. When people only look at negatives involving guns, they eliminate cases where guns are used to save lives.

What counts are not “gun homicides”, but all unjustified homicides.  If the unjustified homicide level rises when gun restrictions are put in place, the stated purpose of the gun restrictions has not been achieved. The gun restriction cost lives instead of saving them. If the homicide level remains the same, all the expense, disruption of individual lives, industry, personal hardship, and loss of freedom has been inflicted for no gain. The restrictions have resulted in a net loss.

In practice, gun bans and gun restrictions have only small effects on homicide rates. In the United States, John Lott and others have shown small, but measurable reductions in murder and violent crimes when more people carry guns legally. Historically, strict gun control made little difference to murder rates in Europe. Joyce Lee Malcomb has shown that murder rates in England and Wales were lower before strict gun control was put in place. In much of the rest of Europe, the homicide rates are pretty flat over the period when gun restrictions were instituted.

In Jamaica, the murder rate soared when a firearms ban was instituted in the 1960s.

Brazil has one of the highest murder rates in the world while having some of the strictest gun restrictions, and a very low number of guns per capita. Most of the murders in Brazil are committed with illegally possessed and often, illegally manufactured guns. The American Virgin Islands have some of the highest murder rates in the world, and some of the heaviest restrictions on gun ownership.  Only a small number of illegal guns are needed for murderers to create a high murder rate with firearms. This is one of the principal weaknesses of attempting to ban firearms. The demand for firearms to be used in crimes is easily met with firearms made at home, in small shops, diverted from the police and military, or smuggled in.

In the United States, where there are about 420 million guns for 330 million people, guns are commonly used to save lives, defend people from attack, and to stop crimes. In a study commissioned by President Obama, done through the Center for Disease Control, it was recognized that guns are used for defensive purposes more often than criminally.

Defensive Use of Guns

Defensive use of guns by crime victims is a common occurrence, although the exact number remains disputed (Cook and Ludwig, 1996; Kleck, 2001a). Almost all national survey estimates indicate that defensive gun uses by victims are at least as common as offensive uses by criminals, with estimates of annual uses ranging from about 500,000 to more than 3 million (Kleck, 2001a), in the context of about 300,000 violent crimes involving firearms in 2008 (BJS, 2010). On the other hand, some scholars point to a radically lower estimate of only 108,000 annual defensive uses based on the National Crime Victimization Survey (Cook et al., 1997). The variation in these numbers remains a controversy in the field. The estimate of 3 million defensive uses per year is based on an extrapolation from a small number of responses taken from more than 19 national surveys. The former estimate of 108,000 is difficult to interpret because respondents were not asked specifically about defensive gun use.

Unsurprisingly, justifiable homicides were found to increase in states with “stand your ground” laws, while overall homicide rates dropped. From John Lott:

My research looked at all states that have enacted Stand Your Ground between 1977 and 2012, either through legislation or through court decisions. I consistently found subsequent drops in murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault rates. On average, murder rates fell by about 1.5 percent annually during the first 10 years that the law was in effect.

This is precisely what is predicted when more people use guns to save lives.

Guns are tools. They can be used to save lives as well as be used to take them. Most people who defend themselves with a gun never have to fire a shot. The mere presence of the gun is enough to stop their attacker. Those incidents are seldom recorded by police, reported in the media, or counted in official statistics.  This shows a basic asymmetry about guns. Guns are more easily used to defend against  attack than to murder. Most murderers do not wish to endanger their own lives. Defenders lives are already in danger. Firearms level the playing field.

Those who use the logical fallacy of an irrelevancy argument do not want you to consider the lives lost because people do not have guns. That is why they push the propaganda memes of “gun violence”, “gun homicide”, “gun crime”, and never mention the lives lost because people did not have guns, or because they were disarmed.

But the single mother who faces attackers that are stronger and larger, the 82-year-old who who faces a home invader, the homeowner who faces a criminal gang, could all have been killed if they were not armed.  The examples above were the lucky and prudent ones who were armed. The unarmed victims who would be alive if they had a gun are not mentioned in news reports. Mass murders stopped by armed citizens are downplayed by the media.

The media does not keep a list of instances that “Should have been a defensive gun use”.  Lives lost because the victim did not have a gun are just as important as murders committed with a gun.

©2018 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.

Link to Gun Watch

About Dean WeingartenDean Weingarten

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

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TionicoBudOzark MuleskinnerRichard LFrancis King Recent comment authors
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I think there are a lot of non-reported cases of defensive use of a firearm simply because the police will often go after the defender as well as the criminal.

Ozark Muleskinner
Ozark Muleskinner

It’s actually worse than this article states. Not only do gun banners ignore all the innocents killed, because they can’t defend themselves effectively without a weapon to equal the odds, but they also lump all gun-related homicides, defensive and suicide, in with criminal gun deaths. The USA suicide rate is no worse, actually much better, than many other countries that do have strict gun control laws. There is no logical or Constitutional rationale for gun gun control laws. As a result, liberals, progressives and communists ignore logic and the Constitution and require us to comply with laws based solely on… Read more »

Richard L
Richard L

Mr. King, Solution: Stay Armed Stay Alert.

Francis King
Francis King

“Only a small number of illegal guns are needed for murderers to create a high murder rate with firearms.”

Right. So instead of trying to ban ‘assault weapons’, or trying to push background checks which people like Omar Mateen walk through, how about finding a solution to the problem which you have identified?


if you reread the article, there ARE a number of these solutions proposed and evaluated. There are a few others not included here. If the press, hell bent upon disarming all of us, were to cease elevating the perpetrators of mass death via firearms to HERO or CELEBRITY status, the “glory” and fame they get would cease to be a motivator. Mr. Weingarten cited the 70 copycat attempts at replicating COluymbine massacres. You may have noted (likely jot, my guess) the evident uptick in attempts at more school shootings in the few weeks after the Parkland event last month. I… Read more »