Gun Statistics

I stumbled across a list of gun “facts” at CBSnews.com. It was horribly one-sided, which doesn’t surprise me. Here is an off-the-cuff look at some of the misleading information it gives.

Under the heading “Who’s at Risk?” it presents some bar charts showing the number of gun related deaths in 1998 broken down by the type of death, gender, and race. Each of “Black Women”, “White Women”, “Black Men”, and “White Men” has a bar graph above it showing deaths due to “Homicide and Legal Intervention”, “Suicide”, and “Accidental”.

Why is “Legal Intervention” lumped together with illegal homicide? If cops have to shoot someone, or if a gun owner legally shoots and kills someone who is attacking him or invading his home, that should not be reported in the same bucket as a murder.

Also, why is there no data indicating the relative population for each of these demographics? For instance, this shows that white men commit suicide with guns 13x more than black men. But how does that relationship look if you account for the fact that there are 7 times more whites than blacks in America?

Under the topic “Kids and Guns”, we find the statement:

“For 10 to 24 year olds, firearms are the second leading cause of death – trailing only unintentional deaths (which include motor vehicle accidents and drownings).”

Why are 18-24 year olds counted as “Kids”? 10-24 seems like an odd grouping to me. Could it be that the grouping was selected to present a particular slant? And how far behind “unintentional deaths” do firearm related deaths trail?

“U.S. children are 12 times more likely to die by gunfire than children in 25 other industrialized countries combined.”

What do you mean by “children”? Is it the same as the definition of “children” in each of those other 25 countries? Does it include 24 year olds? Which other countries did you use? Does this account for the vast differences in population? What are the firearm ownership laws in those other countries?

“In 1995, 1 in 12 students in a national survey reported carrying a firearm for fighting or self-defense at least once in the previous 30 days.”

What was the sample size? Where were the students located? What counts as a “student”? Were these elementary school, junior high, high school, or even college students? Graduate students? How many reported that they carried a firearm for self defense? How many reported that they carried for “fighting”? Why are these lumped together?

It’s amazing what sort of spin you can put on things by selectively omitting certain details.

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