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While both sides of this debate seem intent on claiming direct cause/effect-based remedies to the issue of gun violence, they are missing two key math-based realities regarding gun-based violence in America. The first:

The math of gun violence is very similar in nature and size to the math of state-based lotteries, where small-pot winners are analogous to gun injuries and big jackpots are analogous to gun deaths.

In the math of lotteries, there is no direct cause-effect relationship to winning other than purchasing a ticket, which, by itself, has only an infinitesimal impact on either the chance of winning or the size of the jackpot. However, the Law of Large Numbers, guarantees both that there will be a regular "winner," and, with enough "tickets" sold, there will eventually be, with the gun lottery, another very nasty "super-lotto jackpot" like Newtown.

Yet, instead of focusing on the nature and quantity of the "tickets" sold, there is this search for the "holy grail" of The Cause. The Bismark Tribune asserts this in the one piece of the President's proposal that they could support:

The most promising element of the president’s gun control response is the push for more research into mass killings and other health-related aspects of gun use. If the country understands the root causes of horrific gun violence, then it might be possible to address that cause rather than treat the symptoms, as has been proposed. Better solutions might be found in mental health policies or the prescription and use of anti-depressants — we do not know because we haven’t done the research.

There is nothing wrong, per se, with researching the "causes" of gun violence, but we will surely just find more "tickets," each with individually-tiny relationships to gun violence. Even if we isolate mentally-ill assault weapon owners (and there are likely many), only a small number of these will kill somebody, and that somebody is most likely to be themselves.

In the U.S. for 2010, there were 31,513 deaths from firearms, distributed as follows by mode of death: Suicide 19,308; Homicide 11,015; Accident 600. This makes firearms injuries one of the top ten causes of death in the U.S.
The state-run lotteries literally have this down to a science: sell more tickets, sell more types of tickets, and sell a range of tickets from small, frequent payoffs to high-payoff super-lottos. In short, this is the math of gun violence in the United States today.

Each gun sold is a "ticket," with assault weapons being potential "mega-winners." But each individual gun sale has only a tiny chance of being a big "winner." Likewise ammunition sales, with multi-round clips getting you a similar small-probability entry into the Newtown/Aurora "hall of fame" jackpot. Untreated mental illness is again a ticket, but the vast majority of mentally ill people will never harm anybody else.

So we have this perverse lottery going on, where individuals can cheaply purchase the "dream" of stopping a burglar in his tracks, or defending their home against the "jack-booted thugs" of the government. But in this lottery, real people die. Lots of them.

So Mister Beagle’s short answer: “Stop selling so many damn tickets!”

The second math-based reality has to do with the "unintended consequences" of purchasing that gun to protect yourself, and that diary will follow soon.

Mister Beagle
"The real world is tri-color."

Originally posted to MisterBeagle on Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 04:50 AM PST.

Also republished by Shut Down the NRA and Repeal or Amend the Second Amendment (RASA).

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