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Gun debate not about statistics


Gun debate not about statistics

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Every time a mass shooting horrifies America, gun control advocates trot out statistics and charts proving that more guns produce more violent deaths.

Then pro-gun people respond that the overall gun homicide rate has dropped 50 per cent since 1993, despite a boom in gun sales, and point to polls showing a decline in support for gun regulation. At such times, I am always reminded of the shampoo direction to “lather, rinse, repeat”.

Both sides of the gun debate are certain that the facts are on their side, and keep making the same arguments over and over to no effect. America is deadlocked on gun control because this debate is based more on first principles than evidence. People who oppose restrictions on firearms do so for instinctual and cultural reasons, and see gun ownership as a matter of personal liberty and safety.

Those who favour stronger gun laws believe statistics prove that fewer guns would result in fewer deaths, and that the ensuing reduction in gun deaths would outweigh any accompanying loss of liberty, recreation or psychological benefit.

But statistics don’t change people’s minds, especially when the subject is so emotional and deeply tied to cultural identity. To change the status quo, America needs to change how people FEEL about guns.