I Got Your Stats Hung Low

This is not a political blog, per se. It is a place for relating experiences that create gun culture. Sadly, a great deal of what it means to own a gun has to do with constantly defending one’s right to possess it in the first place. We cannot escape this controversy, but we can learn to limit how crazy we choose to let it make us.

Let me give you an example.

I was scanning Yahoo news this morning, looking for the predictable gun control related stories that always seem to make the top ten. Most of these fall on the anti-gun side and more often than not, they cite statistics and polling data to underscore their assertions. Most people never realize, or for that matter care, that the research is frequently sloppy and the findings… manipulative.

Rare is the gun lover who will scratch the surface and look at a study’s population to see how it was conducted. Most gun folks don’t know the importance of an alpha level or random sampling. This lack of interest is a huge and avoidable weakness for all Americans, but it is especially important for gun owners to know how statistics work. Parents, while we all agree that our kids should study history as it really was, if you really care about the future of guns in our great nation, make sure your sons and daughters take statistics.

I want to thank Mayor Bloomberg for teaching me that the statistics classes I took in my doc program, while extremely painful at the time, were the most useful classes in my entire graduate school experience. Yes, I whined about them like a little bitch until my high school age son took me aside and told me to cut it out and buckle down on the formulas. It took me a while, but I slowly warmed up to the subject as I came to realize how empowering it is to understand, in depth, how poll questions are written and tests conducted.

Even without a statistics degree, here is one tiny facet of data to work on—your stats homework as it were:

Activity 1: Important data is often left out of the current pro gun control argument. The most glaring of these omissions involves the FBI statistics about the number of crimes prevented by the presence and defensive use of guns in our society. I challenge you to search the topic and see the surprising results for yourself.

It’s a stat you can use in any anti-gun argument.

So gun owners, take a statistics class if you can and embrace the numbers game. Mayor Bloomberg’s statistics await your dissection.

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