Irrational Hoplophobia from NBC12 in Virginia

Irrational Hoplophobia from NBC12 in Virginia
Fraction of Suicides with Firearms – Orange; Per Capita Firearms in the US – Blue

U.S.A.-( When people want to believe something, they tend to fit the data to their pre-conceived ideas. This is known in scientific circles as confirmation bias. Others may call it rationalization.

It is on full display in an article written by Katie O'Conner in the Virgina Mercury. The article is piece promoting more restrictive gun laws in Virginia, in advance of the special session called by Democrat Governor Ralph Northam.  The article is premised on false assumptions and the irrational attribution of volition to inanimate objects. From

As state lawmakers prepare to reassemble in Richmond for a special session on gun control after the Virginia Beach shooting, this statistic will likely be repeated often: In Virginia, more than 1,000 people die due to gun violence every year.

That equates to almost three people every day. Guns take more lives than car crashes.

And nearly two-thirds of those gun-related deaths in Virginia are suicides.

It is a short article that illustrates the illogic of hoplophobes.

First, this sentence:

In Virginia, more than 1,000 people die due to gun violence every year.

It sounds like a statement of fact. It isn't. A statement of fact would be: Guns are involved in more than 1,000 deaths in Virginia every year.  The difference is in the causal attribution.

The causal attribution “due to gun violence” makes it appear that if there were no guns, 1,000 people would not have died.

The underlying assumption is “no guns, no gun deaths”.  The statement is false logic. No gun deaths does not mean no deaths. There is little reason to believe a decrease in “gun deaths” means a decrease in deaths.

Here is a parallel statement that makes the irrationality clear. “No hospitals, no hospital deaths”.

A great many people die in hospitals. If we eliminate hospitals, then we eliminate hospital deaths. But the overall death rate will rise.

The reason this illogic resonates with hoplophobes is because they have rejected firearms ownership and use. To rationalize this rejection, they convince themselves that firearms have no legitimate purpose, and firearms are useless for defense of self and others.

Notice the inflation of “gun violence” to include suicides. The percentage of suicides committed with guns in the United States has fallen from about 60% (1990-1996) to about 50% at present. During that period, the per capita number of firearms in the United States increased by about 40% (.78 to 1.3).  The overall number of people who commit suicide with guns has risen, because the overall suicide rate rose so much during the Obama administration.

Those who wish for a disarmed population claim more guns are in fewer hands. They do this based on a survey that indicates a smaller percentage of households have guns. Other surveys show the percentage of households with guns to be about the same as they were 40 years ago. There are numerous other indicators that show gun ownership has been rising, including burgeoning gun sales, enormous increases in concealed carry permits, and rising percentages of minorities and women who own guns.

Part of the irrationality of hoplophobes is to transfer volition from people to guns. From the article:

 Guns take more lives than car crashes.

Guns do not take lives. People with guns take lives. In the United States, and in Virginia, about 2/3 of those lives are people who take their own life. In Virginia, and in the United States, about half of suicides are committed by people with guns.

The claim of hoplophobes is, if no guns were available, the number of suicides would drop. There are several studies that show, if you work hard to make a particular suicide method less available, suicides with that method will drop. The overall suicide rate is likely to drop for a short while, until people learn of other methods and substitute those methods.

In Australia, when ownership of guns was subjected to extreme restrictions and regulations, the suicide rate with guns decreased. But suicide with other methods increased.  Overall, the suicide rate was higher after the extreme gun controls than before.

It is easy to come up with plausible sounding rationalizations, even with rationalizations that fit existing data.

For example, it may be that severe gun restrictions lead men (who commit far more suicides than women in today's society) to believe life is not worth living, as society has become too regulated and less accepting of men. Thus, promoting “gun control”, which men oppose more than women, might lead to more suicides, especially with other methods.

I am not saying the above is true, or not; I am using it as an illustration of how easy it is to create rationalizations that fit a data set.

The data shows that restricting guns has little if any effect on overall suicide rates, similar to restrictions on other methods.

The promoters of removing suicide methods claim if enough lethal methods are removed, the suicide rate will be permanently lowered.

They may be correct. It is impossible to know. If maybe fewer people would wish to live in such a highly regulated society.

It is ironic, however, that many of the same political philosophy who wish to highly restrict firearms because of the risk of suicide, simultaneously promote “assisted suicide”, where there is governmental approval of suicide.

It is not suicide they object to. It is suicide that does not have the stamp of state approval.

Overall age-adjusted suicide rates peaked in the U.S.A. in 1986, dropped until 1999, then started rising again, with current levels slightly lower than in 1986.

Hoplophobes, those with an irrational fear of weapons, will not be convinced by facts or logic. But most people are not hoplophobes and have not studied the issues.

Facts and logic can be useful in educating them.

About Dean 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.

  • 17 thoughts on “Irrational Hoplophobia from NBC12 in Virginia

    1. The whole anti-Second Amendment sentiment is the result of long-term planning by leftists/statists. We’ve allowed them to call the shots in schools and colleges, the media, entertainment…all the vehicles used to create and mold public opinion. What leftists know is that America, even a brainwashed one, will never put up with the kinds of socialist tyranny they have planned for us, and if we’re armed, we can resist. So step one is disarm us. Look at history – every socialist/communist tyranny starts with disarming the population so there can be no effective resistance. Don’t think it can happen here? History shows otherwise. Unfortunately, things are likely to get much worse before they get better.

    2. Unfortunately, liberal northern Virginia voters got this governor in office. The area is heavily populated with mostly liberal democrats. It’s like allowing Los Angeles to pick our president.

      1. Karla, you are right about that. It may get worse. The supreme court upheld the redistricting plan which favors Democrats. We need all the votes we can get to defeat them this fall.

        1. As a man who lives and is Southern born in Georgia, I have watched with tremendous sadness the destruction of our Southern culture piece by piece. The “Old Dominion” state has been enduring this pain for some time it seems. At present, half of Georgia’s population is non-native and not of Southern heritage. We too shall soon be overcome by “invasion”, and Atlanta-La will rule my once proud Southern state. I say Hurrah for Dixie, and let us strip to the waist and duke it out!

          1. @ John
            I can remember, not so many years ago, that Georgia welcomed the hispanics in to their state because they wanted the cheap labor and a lot of it. Now it is pay day and a lot of people are not so happy about the greed that was displayed back then.

    3. The CDC graphic kind of hurts your argument rather than helps it in terms of suicides being the main reason gun deaths are so high. If deaths via firearm are going up, number of firearms are going up, but deaths by suicide by gun are going down, that just means that deaths not by suicide by gun are going up.

      Also, I am not really clear on what your point is about men and suicide. Is the implication that men are killing themselves because literally no laws have changed restricting their gun access, or because men are, I don’t know, less liked now? In any case, it’s a shaky argument. Plenty of people who endure actual hardship don’t kill themselves. Far more hardship than being called out for doing something bad on the internet.

      1. The author made a hypothetical straw man argument to show how easy it is to do so in either direction. We need to educate ourselves and not rely on opinions of others who often know little about the subject they comment on.

        Take out gun suicide and gang related gun deaths, neither of which will change with more restrictive gun laws, and gun violence is actually VERY low

    4. If you ignore basic human rights, if you support the 2nd Amendment followed by “…but…”, if you choose to disregard basic cause and effect, if you bend the “facts” to fit your narrative…you are an enemy of freedom. Virginia earned better. Virginia deserves better.

            1. Ace, we do not live in a Democracy. The USA is a Constitutional Republic. I didn’t vote for Northam, either.

              Clark, thankfully we still have a slim majority in our legislative houses and we have the VCDL. That organization has been successful in restoring many of our rights related to firearms – even during Democrat-controlled years.

              July 9 is Lobby Day. All Virginians that believe in our rights need to be at the Capital on that day. Please check the website for details.

      1. If we must speak about “Virginia” in a collectivist manner, then it would be more correct to say this is precisely what Virginia “earned” by voting for him.
        “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.” – H. L. Mencken

        1. Ace, the Democrats have not had any success in their attempts to pass “gun control”, though they certainly tried – over 70 proposed, and failed, “gun control” bills this last session.

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