The Generalist

Gun-Law A Priori Part Two

You might wonder why I called the previous post Gun-Law A Priori. If you are new to the blog and you’ve never heard of this term before, a priori just means that you can come to a conclusion with logic alone – i.e., no statistics are needed. If you’ve ever taken geometry in school, you were using a priori logic. Given x and y then z. Remember that? That’s all it is.

So, what I was trying to say with that title was simply that the conclusion that violent crime would be ceteris paribus less likely in a place where anyone might be carrying a gun is an a priori conclusion.

What? How can I possibly say that? Don’t I need to collect data and perform statistical analysis to see if that’s true or not?


The reason I don’t is that in my mind I already have all the data I need. I have the axioms for my deductive logic already. I don’t need to perform any experiments. In fact, I already know a priori that if I collect data and do experiments, I will probably find that the data give me results that conflict terribly with my previous conclusion. I know that I am likely to be led astray by the data.

But who do I think I am? Who am I to say that the collected data is wrong? Isn’t that science? Isn’t science the only way you can determine the truth of a complex matter like this?


In fact, the more complex the data is, the less likely science is going to yield any useful results. This is because the more complex a system is, the less likely it is that the scientist can perform an experiment that adequately controls for all the variables. No conclusions can be drawn unless two systems are equivalent other than in the changed variable. The fancy Latin term for this is ceteris paribus or everything else remaining the same.

So, try it yourself. Ceteris paribus, which will be the safer city? One in which any law-abiding citizen might be packing, or one where no law-abiding citizen ever is? Remember, ceteris paribus means everything else is equal. The cities are exactly the same in every way except for the gun laws. Don’t worry, you can do this in your mind. Every individual in the city is the same kind of person. No one new enters or leaves, the number of criminals is the same, the psychology of those criminals is the same, etc. Use what you know about yourself. Which city is safer?

Which City is Safer?

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And what about the little video I showed you? Does that prove anything? No. It is a type of data. But what it does do is remind you of some of the axioms you already know. Like how law-abiding people have a right (from the point of view of a third party) and a responsibility (from their own point of view) to defend themselves and others. Like how most people, even criminals, don’t want to get shot. Like how those criminals who aren’t concerned about being shot will be shot and therefore no longer be a problem. But you don’t need me to walk you through the logic. If you are not in a famous river in Egypt, you will figure it out for yourself.

But, what the hell, polls are fun.

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