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What German Lopez and Others Don't Get

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I subscribe to The New York Times "The Morning" newsletter. This morning, there was a long article from German Lopez entitled, "Good Morning. More guns in the U.S. mean more deaths." (Sigh) In the article he states, "Where there are more guns, there are more deaths... It is an intuitive idea: If guns are more available, people will use them more often."

I don't really have a problem with his underlying sentiment, nor his frustration with what has become a far to frequent headline. I do have an issue with his underlying assertion. The premise that if there is more of x, then event y will occur more often is not logical. For example: according to the American Gun Facts blog (https://americangunfacts.com/gun-ownership-statistics/) there are over 400 million guns in America and more than 81.4 million Americans own guns. What if those 400 million guns were owned by only 100 people? According to Lopez's logic, the number of mass shootings would be unchanged. What if only the military and police owned guns? Suppose that the number of guns is increased to 500 million and only military and police have the guns, then by this logic the number of mass shootings must still increase.

Lopez continues, "If you replaced 'guns' in that sentence with another noun, it would be so obvious as to be banal." Okay. I'll play along.

If celery is more available, people will use them more often.
If mass transit is more available, people will us them more often.
If horse-drawn vehicles are more available, people will use them more often.

Mr. Lopez, I understand your intent, sentiment, and frustration, but don't undercut your argument by starting off with an obvious logical fallacy.

There is another difference between the U.S. and the other countries you used in your comparison. The media. I am an American now living in Germany. I have been here when there have been several mass shootings and other horrific events. What doesn't happen here is the endless coverage and analysis for days of the event or the person who committed the crime. In Germany, they report it the day of and perhaps mention it the next day. The accused person's face and name are not given. Only later, during the trial or in some other context may the name be divulged, but they do not get the fame and notoriety here like in America. Essentially, the event is reported and then not repeated. The media in America obsesses with mass murders. There is the endless analysis, books, magazine articles, and even movies. The Columbine shooters are infamous as is Sandy Hook. Not just because of the horrific events that took place, but because of the endless media coverage.

I suggest along with the 'less guns is better' you might also try 'less media attention paid to the killers is better' as well.


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