I don’t follow politics in other countries, mostly because it’s usually not any of my business except as a warning of what kind of stupidity we’re likely to see show up here.
Yet throughout the world, emotion seems to drive the narrative. That’s because people are predisposed to respond to thing that make them feel. There are reasons for this, no doubt, but feelings are facts, and facts really should matter, too.
Which brings me to the topic of US vs Rahimi.
Yeah, we’re still dealing with that. We have to, in part because it’s all about emotion and not the actual facts of the case.
Gun rights vs. domestic abuse victims; the decision should be an easy one.
One argument often made by gun rights advocates is that “we don’t need more laws, we just need to enforce the laws we have.” That is what they say, but what they too often do is to fight to take existing laws off the books. Such a fight made its way to the United States Supreme Court last week. United States v. Rahimi challenges the constitutionality of a law designed to protect domestic violence victims. The future of that law is now in the hands of the court.
In 1989, I was a television news reporter and I saw and reported on the horrors of domestic violence when 29-year-old Lisa Bianco, a mother of two, was beaten to death with a shotgun by an abusive ex-husband in her front yard. Ironically, she worked at an Elkhart shelter for battered women. I will never forget seeing her tiny body in the snow covered with a white sheet.
This has nothing to do with the Rahimi case. This anecdote is just there to provide the author with some kind of moral authority regarding domestic violence homicides, all because she worked a story where just that happened.
The only relationship with the Rahimi case is that the bad guy used a gun–only he didn’t shoot anyone. He could have committed the same cry with the tire iron you can find in just about any car. That’s how you know it’s not relevant.
Luckily, the author acknowledges the differences.
I acknowledge that a gun was not used in the traditional sense in the murder of Lisa Bianco, but far too often guns are fired in abuse cases. According to the Brady Organization, an average of more than 700 victims were shot and killed by an intimate partner each year between 2018 and 2020; most were women. In arguments before the Supreme Court, the government noted that when a gun is present in the home, the likelihood of an abused woman being shot and killed increases fivefold.
So she admits it wasn’t used as people think of it, but doesn’t explain why she mentioned it in the first place. Of course, we know. Emotions are now primed to think of people accused of domestic violence as pure, unadulterated evil.
Now, let’s get into facts.
700 victims per year is a scary sounding number, one that trips those emotional tripwires that we’re predisposed to look at in horror.
However, let’s keep in mind that more than 900 people die from conditions related to constipation each year. I’m not saying domestic violence victims being killed isn’t awful or tragic. It most definitely is. It’s also not exactly an epidemic.
And let’s remember this bit: “[T]he government noted that when a gun is present in the home, the likelihood of an abused woman being shot and killed increases fivefold.”
That’s a common enough statistic bandied about, but it’s kind of meaningless. If the chance of being shot and killed is one in a million and it goes up to five in a million, that’s a fivefold increase while still being pretty damn rare.
But “increases fivefold” sounds scarier than the actual data itself ever would.
See, people like the author want people to be scared. Scared people are easier to manipulate, to convince to give up their rights in the name of security, even if that security is merely an illusion.
So just like with their opposition to Rahimi, their push for gun control relies almost exclusively on emotion. When “facts” enter the picture, they’re often manipulated simply because emotion matters more.