Burden of Proof

Tell me if this has ever happened to you. You get into an argument with somebody dealing with politics and the second they can no longer argue against your facts they claim the source of your facts is funded by some lobbyist group whom agrees with what you’re saying.

And example of this came to my eyes a couple days ago. Somebody brought up the fact that Hawaii has a low rate of firearm ownership (he claimed 1 in 10 but gave no real source) and a low rate of gun related deaths while Louisiana had a high rate of firearm ownership (he claimed 1 in 2) and a high rate of gun deaths. I think the guy felt himself pretty damned smug that he came up with this statistic all by himself. The problem, as I pointed out, was his correlation didn’t hold. I decided to bring up firearm ownership information and gun related death information. My sources were the Washington Post (specially chosen because they have an anti-gun slant and thus really couldn’t be claimed to be bias in my favor) and SiteMaster (a good source of raw statistics usually).

I pointed out North Dakota has a similar rate of firearm ownership to Louisiana but has far fewer gun related deaths (and almost no homicides at all I might add) while District of Columbia has a very low rate of firearm ownership yet has the highest rate of firearm related deaths in the nation. Most logical people would have shut up at this point or admitted their argument was in error. Not this guy who decided to claim my sources were funded by the NRA.

Once somebody starts attacking the source of your information it is up to them to prove the potential conflict of interest. Most anti-gunners will just say something about the burden of proof not being on them just because they made the argument. The problem is the burden of proof is the responsibility of the one making the claim. I make many claims on this site but always try to provide some source of evidence supporting those claims. That’s because I’m making the argument and thus realize the burden of proof lies with me.

Whenever you make an argument you must be able to provide supporting evidence. This is how arguments work. The reason anti-gunners can’t seem to get a leg up is because they have no evidence supporting their claims. Look at the citations used by the Violence Policy Center or the Brady Campaign sometime. They often just cross-reference each other and claim it to be proof. And therein lies another thing about providing proof, you should provide it through neutral sources. I purposely go out of my way to avoid using NRA funded sources of information when arguing guns because I realize there is a bias. Often I’ll cite information provide by anti-gun organizations because I’m an asshole and like to use their information against them. But I try not to point people to the NRA or other gun-rights organization unless they’ve released a study that clearly provides citations to neutral sources (and sometimes even then I don’t because people will claim bias immediately).

Just remember if you’re going to get into an argument with an anti-gunner have verifiable facts at hand and be ready for them to attack those facts by claiming you used a bias source. Also once they claim the burden of proof isn’t on their hands even though they’re making the claims call them out on it. Don’t let this lazy shit fly.

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