Fisking Another Anti-Gun Nut

So, Gabrielle Blair, going by the handle of “designmom” suggested life insurance as a better way to protect one’s family instead of having a gun and she went on from there.  Twitter link archived here (against possibility of deletion–what happens on the Internet, stays on the Internet).


So, let’s look at this.  As usual, person being fisked is in Bold and my comments are in italics.

There are far better ways to protect your family than a gun. Get a life insurance policy.…

Well, that’s interesting Gabrielle.  Apparently you think that my daughter would prefer to have an insurance payout rather than her father in the event someone with violent intent breaks into our home (or elsewhere–which I’ll get to later).  Perhaps your child or children feel that way about you “designmom” but I’m quite certain my own daughter would rather have me than the couple of hundred large of an insurance payout. (Yes, I do have life insurance, in fact.  But having one does not preclude having the other.)

And that leaves aside the idea that a life insurance policy only “protects” my family from some of the financial challenges they would face in the event of my death.  There are other questions, like who takes care of my daughter in the event of my death–a question that looms large for a single father, let me tell you.  Will they take care of their properly?  Will they be equipped, mentally and emotionally, to deal with her particular challenges?  How much can I really trust them?  Far better, I think, for me to stay right here alive and thus able and willing to care for my daughter.  Perhaps you feel differently about your own children.  And if you do, well, perhaps the fact that you do makes you right to feel that way. (Yes, that’s kind of recursive.)

And then there’s the whole question of if someone takes me down, what prevents them from assaulting, raping, or killing my daughter?  That’s what “protect my family” means, not just provide them money to “replace” my loss, but actually shield them from someone who means them actual physical harm.

I know you truly believe that you’ll need to defend your family at gunpoint. You need to let that go. Statistically it’s just not going to happen. I know it’s boring, but if you want to protect your family, things like seatbelts, fire alarms, and life insurance are your best bet.

Embrace the power of “and”, Gabrielle.  Statistically, one in about two hundred people will be the victim of a violent crime in a year.  According to the Department of Justice There’s an 83% probability of being the victim of an attempted violent crime (Robbery, Murder, Rape, and Aggravated Assault for this purpose) at least once sometime after the age of 12.  In about half that number, the crimes will not just be attempted but completed.  And about a 52% chance (about 2/3 of those who were victimized at least once) of not just being a victim once, but multiple times.

Statistically, I am unlikely to live my life without someone trying to commit a violent crime against me.  And so, while I do wear seatbelts, I do have fire alarms, I do have life insurance, I do eat right and exercise regularly, I do take the medicines my doctor prescribes for me and follow other advice he gives (including vaccinations–do you vaccinate?), I also carry a gun.  Because today might be the day that my 83% comes up.

The same gun I can use to defend myself and my family at home is also (or is in any sane jurisdiction) available to defend myself when away from home–where a lot of those crimes leading to that 83% chance occur.  Probably won’t be today.  Probably won’t be tomorrow.  But pretty good chance it will be sometime.  And I don’t know when that sometime, where that somewhere, will be.  But since I have the gun it’s easy enough to have it with me whenever and wherever it’s legally allowed for me to have it.  Then I only have to worry about those places where it’s not legal to have it, places where people like you would have me left defenseless against folk with ill intent.

So embrace the power of “and” Gabrielle.

The reality is, you’re probably going to die of heart disease or diabetes, or just old age and natural causes. I know it’s not as cool-sounding as an armed-standoff, but it’s still true.

And, indeed, I’d like that to be the case.  I’d prefer to go through my life and never be touched by violent crime.  But…83%, Gabrielle.  Those aren’t “gun nut” statistics.  That’s the Department of Justice.  Those are numbers right out of the Federal Government.  And even if I were unarmed, I might survive the encounter with violent crime.  After all, most of those violent crimes are not murder.  But I’d really rather not put my trust in the criminals for the outcome, the decision as to whether I live or die, hmm?  Perhaps you’d rather trust to the criminals for your own safety.  If so, well, that’s your choice.  You do you.  Just don’t make that choice for me.

If the topic of protecting your family comes up, a gun extremist will immediately imagine an armed intruder who has come to murder. That’s not going to happen. It’s rare enough that it’s not something people need to worry about or make decisions based on.

Once again, the Department of Justice disagrees with you there, Gabrielle.  There are over a million home invasions–that’s an intruder breaking into a home while the residents are present.  That’s one for every 330 or so people.  The odds aren’t too bad in a given year but… simple statistics (I know math is hard for you, so you’ll just have to trust me on this–we covered this kind of thing the first week of Stat Mech back in college)–over a typical lifetime that comes to about a one in five chance of it happening to a given individual at least once.  Actually, it’s much higher than that because when I crunched the numbers I based on number of people–as though each individual lived in their own separate household.  But most people live in households with more than one person and the chances of it happening are per household, not per person.  I know this is complicated, Gabrielle, but do try to keep up.  I’ve given every benefit of the doubt, used a hard lower limit on the chances.  And it’s still a one in five chance sometime in one’s life.  Maybe not this year.  Maybe not next year.  But a pretty good chance (one in five–cannot repeat that enough) of sometime.

Maybe you’re willing to bet your family’s safety on a one in five chance.  I’m not.  And I don’t appreciate you making that decision for me.

If the topic of protecting your family comes up among people who actually interact and care for children each day, they think of things like using car seats, preventing hormones and dangerous chemicals in food, child-proofing the cleaning supplies, and schoolyard bullying.

I know this is a shock to you, Gabrielle, but we do all that. (I suspect, however, as someone who actually has more than a rudimentary knowledge of science, that I disagree with you on the issue of hormones and dangerous chemicals in food–what actually constitutes “dangerous.”  And thanks to this I now suspect the answer to my question above about if you vaccinate is in the negative.)  And we also take steps about that one in five chance that sometime, someone with ill intent will break into our home while we’re here.

Hundreds and hundreds of you have explained to me that a life insurance policy won’t protect against an armed intruder. I never said it would. The thing you don’t understand: There isn’t going to be an armed intruder. That’s just your paranoia.…

One million times a year it does happen.  You may be willing to write those people off.  I am not.

NPR is not gifted with particular insight into criminology and justice statistics.  I’ll go with the Department of Justice on this, thank you very much.  Repeating your claim over and over again doesn’t make it so, Gabrielle.

A gun in the home is FAR more likely to kill or maim a household member than it is to protect them. Enjoy your daydreams about armed stand-offs. But that’s all they are. Daydreams.

This is, put simply, a lie.  It was a lie when Kellerman “reported” it (i.e. made it up) in his debunked “study.” It’s a lie today.  There are over one hundred million gun owners in the US, Gabrielle.  That’s households, not individuals.  Even the lowest of lowball estimates of uses of guns in self defense puts them at over 100,000 (National Crime Victimization Survey–extremely lowball because it only counts crime victims.  Things which were stopped before the person became a victim and that were not reported to police were systematically excluded by the very nature of the “study”.  Serious studies report numbers in the half million to three million range.) That’s five times as many as all the murders in the US in a year.  Five.  Times.  The “gun in the home is more likely…” is simply nonsense from beginning to end.  It’s a lie.  I’ll credit you with just being stupid and naively repeating a lie told to you by others, but the claim is a lie.

Update: A shocking number of you are CONVINCED that armed intruders will enter your home at 2 AM. And specially at 2 AM. Is there like an NRA ad about a 2 AM break in? Some meme I missed? Don’t answer. I don’t actually want to know.

It’s called a scenario.  People take a general concept and describe it as though it were an actual event, including details to flesh it out and help others envision the idea more clearly.  2 AM, the “wee hours of the morning” is when most people are deep asleep, when they are at their most vulnerable.  Like when Hillary made her campaign ad about the “2 AM call.”  Same concept.

When you do “design” do you never use concrete examples to use to illustrate some concept you are wanting to include in a design to help others understand and maybe go “I like it.  Let’s do that”?

Muting this thread now.

“And when away his regiment ran, his place was at the for-o
that celebrated, cultivated, underrated nobleman, the Duke of Plaza Toro.”

21 thoughts on “Fisking Another Anti-Gun Nut”

      1. The far more damaging technique is when these idiots delete the tweets in question, breaking up the threading of the arguments and severely cutting down the number of people who will be able to follow the argument.


        1. And even should they do so, here we are with this blog page and the link. They can try to delete their posts, and can from the original source, but “what happens on the Internet stays on the Internet.” And when you’re in an argument in “real time” it’s a good idea to screencap everything particularly if you think the other person might be the kind to delete, edit, or block.

          Liked by 1 person

    1. Only an option for people who have $12,500 to drop on this “safe room”. And looking at it, it can get mighty stifling mighty fast with more than one person in it. Hope that the bad guys breaking into your home aren’t between you and the room (unlike a firearm, which you can have with you at all times if you choose), that you have time to get everyone in your house together and into it, and no help at all if a threat occurs to you away from home.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Just hide in it if your house is invaded and call the police.
      Yep, just hope a savior can arise from elsewhere. While it has its uses, the idea that you call someone else to save you is not the attitude of a free citizen, imo.

      Oh, and you have to have room in your house to place this, too. (On top of the money.)

      And, of course, what WiB said, too.


  2. what prevents them from assaulting, raping, or killing my daughter?
    This is really the issue. Even if the bad guy doesn’t kill you first. I’m protecting them from harm. A life insurance policy doesn’t do that. It sits there, quietly, in the drawer, just waiting for you to die.

    Yes, I’m about protecting myself if/when I carry. But I’m also about protecting others around me – particularly those who cannot (possibly because they’ve been maleducated by idiots like ‘designmom’) protect themselves. (Psalm 82:3-4, Isaiah 1:17, Proverbs 24:11, among others.)

    Statistically, I am unlikely to live my life without someone trying to commit a violent crime against me.
    I’m not so sure about the “83%” – I think that number may not adequately take in the “multiple crimes” bit. But, even if it’s 50%, or 30%, that’s a large risk. And I’m all about mitigating risk. And, then, I’ll repeat the bit about protecting others – because if your probability is 83%, so is everyone else’s (all those guys and gals standing in line at In-N-Out with you), and I’m about protecting others, too. (Also, insert here the old joke about the scared flyer and “What if it’s the pilot’s time?”)

    As to the multiple crimes bit, a large number of people do go through life without getting victimized – because they live in nice areas, and don’t go to that part of town, and don’t go out after dark, etc. Some people, however, live in those parts of town – and don’t have the wherewithal to move. Guess which areas are more likely to have restrictive gun laws that prevent those folks from protecting themselves? Which makes ‘designermom’ a classist, at best. (Actually, ignorant, at best, classist falls just above that; racist at worst.)

    There isn’t going to be an armed intruder. That’s just your paranoia.
    There isn’t going to be a child snatcher. That’s just your paranoia.
    There isn’t going to be a pedophile. That’s just your paranoia.

    estimates of uses of guns in self defense puts them at over 100,000
    An estimated 14,955 lives were saved by seat belts nationwide in 2017 (according to a quick search of the internet, and snagging one statistic out of the morass). 2,549 additional lives would have been saved by everyone buckling up. So, her constant comparison of seatbelts to firearms is a bit… askew.

    Some meme I missed?
    Actually, it’s called “math” and “statistics”. Again, you’re not very good at that, so I get it.
    Statistically, most very bad things happen in the hours after midnight and before 4am-ish. Guess what’s in the middle of that? You’re right, 2am. This is when a huge chunk of break-ins occur (meaning a large percentage are home invasions, since people are home asleep and not everyone is on vacation!) , as well as people leaving bars in intoxicated states (assaults, rapes), and other such disreputable activities. Oh, as an aside, it’s also when military sentries are most likely to fail in their duties (1am to 3am), regardless of how much sleep they’ve gotten. So, not a “meme”.

    Good job, WiB. There would have been more slapping involved if I had fisked that.


    1. I’m going to get yelled at for “disbelieving statistics”, I’m sure. So, a few points…

      I’m not saying their actual numbers are wrong. I’m wondering if the permutations they did to “take into account” multiple occurrences per person were adequate. Or any estimates of occurrences not reported. Because, honestly, there’s a LOT of sampling and guesswork. It’s why we talk about “statistics” instead of “facts”. (After all, it’s a statistical likelihood that any one roll of the dice will turn up 7 or 11, and a statistical likelihood that they will turn up a certain number of times in 1,000 rolls. But any particular string of rolls could be 7 after 11 after 7. We wouldn’t have Las Vegas if that weren’t true.)

      Also, while I do math and understand statistics, I don’t trust public statistics too highly. Nor any statistics I haven’t done myself. Heck, I’ve come up with enough twisted ways to turn data around that I don’t even trust those.

      Lastly, I wonder if – that being a lifetime statistic – they’re counting getting beat up in grade school and such? That would make 83% much more believable. But also make that particular statistic useless for firearm discussions, I think. Regardless of the exact number, your point about likelihood is absolutely correct, though.


      1. I’m going to get yelled at for “disbelieving statistics”, I’m sure. So, a few points…

        Not by me. “Figures don’t lie, but liars figure.” However, as I said in my previous comment, I’d done some looking at that on my own with admittedly incomplete data, but incomplete in such a way as it would make my figures systematically low. When I looked at household probability (chance of someone in an average household being victimized) I got numbers very like the numbers in the report for “at least once” and may serve as a good estimate of those items for which I did not have data. Thus, the figures presented in the DOJ report do pass the “sniff test.”

        The “lifetime” figure is from age 12 up (largely because of a lack of tracking of data for those younger, as the report says). And note that the crime tracked in the UCR is not just assault and battery, but aggravated felony battery. Schoolyard brawls don’t generally reach that level and if they do, then they should be included.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. I’m not so sure about the “83%” – I think that number may not adequately take in the “multiple crimes” bit.

      I think there numbers are actually pretty good. When I last looked at it, there was about one reported violent felony as tracked by the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report per two hundred people. That means that in a given year the “average person” would have a 99.5% chance of not being a victim (probability 0.995). Pretty good right? To get the chance for multiple years you multiply the probabilities together. Two years, the chance of not being a victim in either year is 0.995 * 0.995 or .990025. For three years, 0.995*0.995*0.995 or .98507875. As you can see, the pattern is p^n with p the probability of something happening in a given year and n being the number of years. In this case, the probability of not being a victim of violent crime. The probability of being a victim at least once is the converse of that 1-p^n.

      When I did that, I only had the publicly available numbers from the UCR which did not include that many crimes have multiple victims. In Robbery, for instance, every individual in the place being robbed is a victim for this purpose. Also, many crimes do go unreported and I was unable to make an estimate of those. I came up with about a 70% chance of not being a victim of violent crime over a lifetime or a 30% chance of being one but that would be a very strict lower bound. With the extra information not available to me, I have no trouble believing the 83% figure.


      1. While you’re applying statistics properly, there, I don’t think that method of calculating chance over time is reliable when we’re dealing with people and a heterogeneous population/area of concern. I think your chance probably varies from year-to-year, there’s people on either end of the curve, etc. Then there’s the likelihood that as a young person you’re probably more likely (more risk-taking behaviors) than as a middle-aged person – and do you become more or less likely as a senior citizen?

        I also think there’s the question of defining the issue. I’m betting a perception issue (causing doubt of the 83% figure) is that we might have been involved at what would get defined as a “violent crime” at some point in our lives, but not recall it as so because it resolved in such a way it simply got pushed to the back of the mind. Maybe it was an angry shove in a bar, or you were on the periphery of some incident and didn’t connect it to yourself.

        And that’s why “statistics” is so beloved. 🙂


  3. Just a small typo correction- “you’re” should be “your” at “Perhaps you’d rather trust to the criminals for your own safety. If so, well, that’s you’re choice. You do you. Just don’t make that choice for me.”

    Otherwise, damn, you rock. A marvelous fisking!


  4. I expect that I’ll never need a gun to defend myself or my family.

    I also expect that our house will never, ever, burn down, even many years after we sell it.

    Yet we have fire insurance and no one thinks we are foolish to do so. In fact, people would likely consider us incredibly foolish NOT to have insurance. A major fire is what the insurance people apparently refer to as a Low Probability, High Consequences Event.

    Whatever the probability of a home invasion, forcible rape, gay bashing, or armed robbery may be, those are High Consequences Events. Yet we are considered foolish and even in fantasy land for having insurance to prevent them.

    Back in 1980 I briefly worked with Tom Palmer, later one of the original plaintiffs in DC vs Heller. In 1982 Tom may have saved his own life and that of a friend because he was carrying. From the Wikipedia article on Heller:

    “Tom G. Palmer
    A colleague of Robert A. Levy at the Cato Institute and the only plaintiff that Levy knew before the case began.[7] Palmer, who is gay, defended himself with a 9mm handgun in 1982. While walking with a friend in San Jose, California, he was accosted by a gang of about 20 young men who used profane language regarding his sexual orientation and threatened his life. When he produced his gun, the men fled. Palmer believes that the handgun saved his life.”

    Whatever one thinks of gays, Tom Palmer and others like him have every right to shoot people attempting to murder them. Fortunately for all concerned, he didn’t need to, but, confronted by people with tire irons who vowed to beat them, he and his friend were lucky that he was armed.

    Beaten with tire irons: Low Probability, High Consequences Event. They can happen to anyone, and do.


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