So, there's a fun video circulating with a 15 year old girl testifying in front of the Maryland legislature about how gun control policies won't work. Even though it is a new year, I will watch the video and tackle the argument that she is trying to make.
The video starts with the girl clarifying why she is so into guns. She was on the Maryland State rifle team since she was eleven. Even though she is fifteen years old, she has become eligible for many shooting scholarships to prestigious colleges and universities around the nation. Congratulations to her, that is quite an accomplishment. Unfortunately, her next claim that stricter gun control laws would obliterate chances that she could obtain ANY opportunity to attend a college or university. After two seconds of googling, I was able to find a $1000 scholarship available for pistol club members. Since the rest of her argument is about how she disagrees with gun control for rifles, it seems semi-relevant to mention that she would have an opportunity to obtain a scholarship for pistol marksmanship. This is not central to the rest of her points but her appeal to pity is already losing. Not just because it is a logical fallacy.
"Purging our country from violence and murder cannot be done with gun control legislation." Well, nobody is saying that ALL murder and violence will be gone after gun control violence. People are saying it will be greatly reduced. So, she's building a strawman here.
"Gun control legislation is liberating us from our Constitutional rights." Almost all gun control legislation has been upheld as constitutional by judges. But I think that's beside the point.
"We are eliminating our ability to protect our lives, liberty, and pursuit of happiness." Yes, that phrase that is in the Constitution..I mean, the Declaration of Independence.
At about one minute into the video, she makes the inevitable comparison to Chicago. It's like there is no other fucking argument out there. I mean, seriously. But kudos to her for making a comparison between Chicago and Afghanistan. Of course, she states that you are more likely to get shot in Chicago than Afghanistan, which confuses rates with populations. But, let's take a look at what she says. She states that in 11 years and 4 months, just over 2,000 people have died in the Afghani War. In the last 8 years, Chicago has more than that. Over 3,000 have died from gun deaths there.
So, let's take a look at the states with the loosest gun laws, because, obviously, the problem is only with Chicago because they have strict gun laws. But what state should we look at?
The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence gives out state scorecards based on their gun control laws. Not surprisingly, the states that receive an "F" grade have the loosest gun control laws. I'll choose another high population area that has a lot of deaths. I'll choose Texas. There was 1,141 murders in Texas in 2012, the last year eligible to search. There were 745 murders by guns. There were 699 murders by firearms in 2011. There were 805 in 2010. So, in just three years, Texas was more violent than Afghanistan, right? I could keep going back if I felt like it, but honestly, it's boring.
But I will repeat exactly what she asks about Chicago, but I'll choose Texas. "Is that really something we want to model our state laws after?" Apparently so. But, anyway. The ten states with the strongest gun control laws are California, Connecticut, New Jersey, Maryland, New York, Massachusetts, Hawai'i, Illinois, Rhode Island, and Delaware. The states with the lowest gun death rate are Hawai'i, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Minnesota, Iowa, California, and Maine. The states with the highest gun death rate are Alaska, Alabama, Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Tennessee, and Wyoming. The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence gives them all a F grade, except Alabama, who received a D-, but hey, it's passing if you're in high school.
The murder rate is much higher in Detroit, New Orleans, and Baltimore than Chicago. Additionally, the murder rate is higher in Memphis and Philadelphia than Chicago. Houston and Dallas have similar murder rates to Chicago. But, Chicago is much easier to criticize and has been part of the central pro-gun rights argument for a number of years. Heaven knows we hate coming up with new arguments.
Her next argument is that rifles don't kill people, handguns kill people. Great choice, there. She uses a big word that says that weeding out assault weapons has "proven statistically" to weed out 1% of gun deaths, if you're lucky. So, there's that. I'll just leave that there.
According to her, NONE of the guns used to kill people were registered or licensed to them, which is, of course, an absurd absolutist argument. But I'll leave it alone because I don't feel like googling for 30 seconds to find one gun registered to someone who committed a murder. "Restricting access to guns does not prevent criminals from using guns to hurt people." Of course, there's the above argument I listed about gun control laws and gun death rates. But, CHICAGO! So, of course I'm wrong. The only statistics that matter are Chicago.
Then she talks about the same day on Newtown shooting, there was a mass stabbing at a Chinese school. 22 children and 1 adult were stabbed. She then claims that guns are not needed for mass murder. Although, none of the children stabbed died. 16 were hospitalized. But only 2 were seriously wounded. The attacker was then overpowered by security guards. Something that is unlikely to happen with assault weapons.
Finally, she talks about the links between gun deaths and poverty. But her argument is that raising the price of owning a gun hurts their ability to protect themselves. If the lower cost of owning a gun was actually a help to protect yourself from all those poor people shooting up the streets, wouldn't states with lower cost to owning a gun have lower murder rates? Or can we only look at gun death statistics if it's Chicago?
It's a terrible video and a worse argument. I hardly believe it leaves anyone speechless except those who are all excited about guns that can't get over the shock that someone would say their argument out loud.