A few months back, I received one of those silly emails that make the rounds of the internet. It was one of those snappy sayings done up to look vaguely like a bumper sticker, that said (approximately):
“Conservatives look at the facts and reach conclusions. Liberals look for facts to support their conclusions.”
Something like that. Since I deleted it as soon as I looked at it, I might have the wording slightly wrong, but it’s close enough; the kind of universal statement to which you don’t really pay much attention. However, given the second amendment debate I watched the other day on FOX News, I should have saved that email.
The debate was between Alan Colmes and a conservative radio show host with whom I’m not familiar, but the conservative pointed out that for the past thirty years, gun ownership has skyrocketed, while violent crime, including violent crime involving the use of a firearm, has decreased to levels unseen since the early 1960s.
Just to be very clear about what that conservative claimed, there are three governmental agencies (that I know of) that track such things: the Bureau of Justice; the Center for Disease Control; and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The FBI is and always has been fairly neutral when it comes to second amendment issues, but neither the Bureau of Justice nor the Center for Disease Control have a very good record of neutrality. The CDC has in the past labeled “gun violence” as an epidemic that can be compared to things like ebola or the influenza virus when it comes to how “gun violence” should be controlled. The BOJ is the statistic-gathering branch of the Department of Justice, which has a notoriously anti-gun bias. Each of those entities uses different methodologies for collecting data, so the figures vary somewhat with each agency, but all three show the same thirty year trend, which is a greatly increased degree of gun ownership (including concealed carry permits) and a greatly decreased degree of violent crime/violent crime with a firearm.
Alan Colmes’s response to these statistics? “Well, I don’t believe that.”
Wow. How do you debate someone who refuses to believe the sun rises in the east, or that the earth is round? Or is this a case of Alan Colmes being so mistrustful of every single branch of the United States Government that he won’t accept the government’s own research? He seems to believe all the other statistics the government sees fit to put out for public consumption.
I should have saved that silly email.