Friday, October 09, 2015

U.S. Gun Deaths by Population

Gun ownership is back in the news again this week. In response to yet more mass shootings in the U.S. I've seen a number of maps showing the locations of these horrendous crimes.

As someone remarked on my Twitter feed these maps increasingly resemble population density maps. The U.S.'s crazy gun laws mean that lots of people have guns and it appears that where there are lots of people with guns then eventually a mass shooting will occur.

The value of these maps is presumably in their shock value. They scream 'Wake-up America, look at all these mas shootings!" However people's views on gun ownership seem so entrenched that you have to wonder how well they work. In fact I'm sure some wingnut politician will one day point at these maps and claim that all these mass shootings in schools prove that we should start arming first-grade schoolkids.

The most illuminating map on the issue of gun ownership that I've seen this week was from Oregon Live. The US Gun Deaths Map 2004-2010 shows the average number of gun deaths per 100,000 county residents. The map therefore does provide some insight into where gun deaths are occurring more in proportion to population.

It is important when viewing this map to understand that this is not a map of only gun homicides. The map also shows deaths occurring from suicide attempts. The map does reveal however that there are some clear geographical differences in the number of gun deaths per population in different regions of the United States.

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