Monday – gun day

Documenting guns in the USA.

Just back from Canada, where you’ll be happy to know there are 30.8 guns per 100 residents, versus the USA, where there is over 100 guns per 100 residents. (see the above link for Wikipedia’s take, I’ve seen conflicting statistics that put the US rate at higher than the 101 guns per 100 people listed there.)

Anyway, that’s just a gentle aside.

Today’s topic is the beginning of my research for a new work. I wanted to see the first 50 or so gun deaths in the US for 2017. Cut to the absolutely incredible Gun Violence Archive, and their overwhelming score sheet. Naively I went in and just tried to get data on all the gun deaths of 2017 thus far, but unsurprisingly that’s too big a number; the website will only output results that run to about 18 web-pages, give or take. I had to narrow my search query, so I thought I’d go in for just the month of January. That was too big, so eventually I went for the first 10 days of January and got what I wanted and exported that to CSV.

Turned out that list gave me more than six times the amount of data than what I was in pursuit of. If I want to find out about the first 60-odd gun deaths in the USA for 2017, I only need to get the data of January 1st. The Gun Violence Archive’s count for gun deaths on January 1, 2017, is 63. Sixty-three lives lost to guns in one day, across the country (interactive Map of Jan 1 deaths).

As a microcosm of one year of killing (here’s just one of several web articles to put that at about 33,000 deaths annually), it’s doing well so far – the biggest single event this list says four people died, so it includes at least one mass shooting, which on average happens here on nine out of every ten days. The thing that actually surprised me in the key statistics for a year’s worth of deaths is that about two thirds of gun deaths annually in the US are suicides. (I don’t watch news or read newspapers regularly any more, so I can be surprised by the obvious sometimes.) I hear about so many other grave mistakes and serious offenses in the media I do follow that I missed that incredible statistic.

At least at first glance, the interactive map of 63 deaths seems to echo the general spread of the deaths over the country in the year to date, which Gun Violence Archive has prepared: – October 23, 2017

It’s a big map. A quick guess is that the clusters echo the population distribution, but that’s research for another day.


Interesting aside: this map reminds me of a piece that I saw recently, which overlaid the locations of hate groups onto a map of the USA . It was a piece by artist (and recent Betty Bowen Award runner-up) Deborah F Lawrence  at the Speaking Out exhibition (disclaimer, yes, I’m in it).