Monday, June 27, 2016

Of Course, This is a Jihadi Problem and Not a Math Problem

I think it is a no-brainer to say that a few armed patrons at the Orlando Pulse nightclub could have ended the slaughter faster by killing Mateen earlier in his killing spree. But that isn't the total question.

I don't understand why gun opponents deny that armed Pulse patrons could have shot Mateen and ended the slaughter in Orlando. Of course armed patrons could have done that and arguing otherwise just makes you look stupid.

But that isn't the entire question. What I think the gun opponents really mean is that having armed patrons in places where alcohol is served--but which aren't under terrorist (or even madman or bigoted killer) attack--will lead to some level of deaths that otherwise wouldn't happen.

The big picture is that even as gun ownership skyrockets and concealed carry proliferates, gun deaths have gone down (and most are suicides). The anti-gun side has been shown wrong about their predictions of blood on the streets from those changes. Law-abiding gun owners really don't murder people, for the most part.

But it defies logic to argue that more guns in more places won't possibly lead to some level of additional deaths even if the rate of illegal gun use goes down. If the unlawful lethal use of guns drops by half but the number of armed people triples, the total death number does go up. That's the math. That illustration is arbitrary but it is legitimate math.

One part of the calculation is whether armed patrons will save some level of deaths in X number of bars (or other public places) where there is a terrorist (or other) attack. If you assume one attack per year and a death toll of Orlando as the average, and that armed patrons will reduce the death toll by 75%, that would save about 37 lives per year.

Changing the variables changes the lives saved result, obviously.

On the other side of the calculation, if there are 300,000 bars and nightclubs in America (and I'm just making this number up. I have no idea and no pretense that this illustration needs even a Googled number), and the combination of guns, youthful emotions, lack of training, and alcohol and drugs leads to an additional death toll of 1/100 of 1% deaths per bar per year, that's 30 additional deaths per year.

Changing the variables changes the lives lost result, obviously.

I'm not saying that arming patrons would save lives overall despite my results above. My inputs and operations are just illustrative and easily could show lives lost.

Indeed, I suspect that encouraging patrons who are drinking and/or taking drugs to carry a firearm would be a bad idea. I'm just laying out the basic problem as I see it.

I suppose you could look up the relevant stats on public places, gun death rates, and whatnot and make this calculation more rigorous (but not completely since some assumptions will still have to be made at some level).

And there is a difference between lives lost in crimes (or accidents) and in terror attacks. The former are part of life. The latter should not be a part of life.

As one African-American Chicago man said about police-caused deaths of innocent people (whether deliberate or accidental) compared to crime-caused "Black-on-Black" deaths in the city, he expects criminals to kill but expects police to protect. So police who kill are more outrageous than even African-American crooks who kill despite the higher prevalence of the killing by criminals.

The man is right.

We can debate how to reduce a toll of an activity without banning the activity. We don't ban private vehicle--or bathtub--ownership and usage despite the death tolls.

Thank goodness we so far don't accept terrorism deaths as just part of life as long as we can fight against it. Although the president's statement that he wished we were as resilient as Israelis about accepting terror deaths while getting on with their lives seems to argue he wants us to treat the causes as meaningless. (And the president ignores Israel's rigorous--and often condemned--efforts to stop and kill terrorists, too.)

I've no problem debating what we do about terror attacks. It's complicated. But I'd like us to start with the premise that terrorists are responsible, and not the president and not the NRA.

And here's an amusing Scott Adams post that does have a vaguely related point. But it is entertaining.

Remember, this is not really a math problem. It is a jihadi problem.