An article at Vox has gained attention for illustrating America’s “unique gun violence problem” in 17 maps and charts. A similar New York Times opinion piece by Nicolas Kristof has gained attention for illustrating “How to Reduce Shootings.” Below, we will respond to the individual graphs on Vox’s and then on Kristof’s terms. But there are a lot of assumptions behind their graphs. Often, just one or two public health studies are cited to make a particular point, without discussing any of the known weaknesses with these studies. It would also be valuable for both to acknowledge and critique research that reaches the opposite conclusions.
Economists focus on the notion of substitution. If you take away guns, people might commit suicides or murders in other ways. It is total deaths that need to concern everyone. Both pieces focus exclusively on gun deaths without looking at the larger picture.