This Week, (Columbus Day) Gun Control

My addition to Scott’s post on this week’s topic, gun control. A few things that I happened on this morning.

The image below is a heat map of gun deaths _per capita_ by county.  I found it attached to this post on G+.  I’ve added some explanation below the image.

This is a link to an interactive map, on which the post is ultimately based.

The guy who made the post, Yonatan Zunger, is an engineering director at Google.  He’s an incredibly smart guy, with a PhD in physics from Stanford, and knowledgeable about a broad range of subjects. He’s one of the people I follow on G+ and I always look forward to his posts.

What’s interesting (beyond Yonatan’s post and the underlying article) is the discussion in the comments section. Like a lot of good creators of Internet content, he’d attracted a following of smart people who comment his post and add links to other, related information.  You can get quite an education on gun control reading and following the links in the comment section.

To precis some of the more interesting comments:

  1. This is per-capita not, total deaths. So most cities are relatively safe, though there may be areas within any city that are not.
  2. This is all gun deaths. Nationwide the ratio between suicide and homicide gun deaths is 65-35 (per this article)
  3. Suicide by gun is about 80-85% effective. Suicide by non-gun is about 5-8% effective.
  4. This is a link to a map showing locations with “mass shootings” I didn’t see a definition of “mass shootings” but clicking on the smaller dots, it seems to be >= 4 involved, though not all killed. Before you look at the article, guess how many such shootings occurred between the first of the year and Oct 2, the date of the article. Were you close?

Finally, no discussion of gun control can be complete without reference to  Ben Carson’s support of a theory so often cited, it’s been given a name: “Nazi Gun Control Theory.”

This is an kind of (and I love this term ) “Reducto ad Hitlerium” argument.

Geeks like me who frequent online discussion groups are familiar with “Godwin’s Law” which states: “”As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1.”



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