More Simple Math

In the wake of this morning’s shooting, which, according to Mass Shooting Trackerwas actually the second of the day,

I’d like to present two maps, and dismiss a logical fallacy.


Bang bang
Bang bang

No doubt, you have seen something like this before, and it usually only serves to reinforce the idea that the poorer, disenfranchised Red States are more violent. So — let’s put this in context with

Map 2:

Our Cities are on a par with Entire Countries!
Our Cities are on a par with Entire Countries!

To quote journalist Richard Florida in his fine analysis for the Atlantic :

The pattern is staggering. A number of U.S. cities have gun homicide rates in line with the most deadly nations in the world.

  • If it were a country, New Orleans (with a rate 62.1 gun murders per 100,000 people) would rank second in the world.
  • Detroit’s gun homicide rate (35.9) is just a bit less than El Salvador (39.9).
  • Baltimore’s rate (29.7) is not too far off that of Guatemala (34.8).
  • Los Angeles (9.2) is comparable to the Philippines (8.9).
  • Boston’s rate (6.2) is higher than Nicaragua (5.9).
  • New York, where gun murders have declined to just four per 100,000, is still higher than Argentina (3).

… Yes, it’s true we are comparing American cities to nations. But most of these countries here have relatively small populations, in many cases comparable to large U.S. metros.

The sad reality is that many American cities have rates of gun homicides comparable to the some of the most violent nations in the world.

The fallacy I’d like to dispel with is the one that goes something like this:

“More people are killed with stuffed animals than with guns every year. Should we ban stuffed animals, too?”

I pains me to spell this out, but here goes:

We have two countries:

Country SG has Stuffed Animals and Guns.

Country SG
Country SG

Country S just has Stuffed Animals.

Country S
Country S

In both countries, the same number of people die from exposure to Stuffed Animals, and an additional (nearly equivalent) portion of the populace dies from gunshot wounds in country SG.






Or to put it another way, in closing, if John Lennon had lived in Country S, he’d probably still be writing great music.

Ah … not so much, no.

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