Gun control: Maine vs Chicago

Lia with statistics

On Facebook there are a lot of posts of various statistics used to make a point.  Here the person posting (from now on called the poster) seems to be claiming that Maine is the safest state in the USA while Chicago is a war zone of violence and therefore gun control laws don't work.  Let's take a look at the statement starting with the first sentence.

Chicago is gun free.

This statement must be false.  Obviously Chicago is not "gun free".  Law enforcement has guns and I believe certain people can get carry permits.  Is the implication that local gun control laws make if difficult?  There have been supreme court rulings that have struck down laws that do not allow for individual gun ownership.

Over 1550 shot already this year.

I don't dispute this (the year looks like it was 2019 based on the original date of the post).  Chicago definitely has a gun violence problem.  And it's serious.  However, this statistic is overly broad.  I think the casual reader will assume this is gun deaths.  But is it?  Where did the stat come from?

Maine can carry concealed firearms without a permit.

Ok.  That is a fact.

4 years later, Maine is the safest state in the union.

Here is where everything falls apart.  First up what does "safest" mean here?  I have no idea.  Looks like we are comparing shootings, since that was mentioned in the first sentence.  I will come back to that in a moment.  The comparison is between Chicago, a large urban city with a population of about 2,750,000 according to US census, with the state of Maine, total population 1,360,000 with its largest city's population of 65,000.  Notice that there was no comparison between cities.  Already the argument seems designed for the outcome.

Let's drill down on the use of the term safest.  Can safest be determined using some sort of statistical analysis?  I decided to look for statistics on gun shootings or gun deaths by state.  When comparing this sort of statistic it is important to use some "weighting factor" such as number per 100,000 population that gives a clearer comparison.

In fact the CDC does just such an analysis called Firearm Mortality by State.  Here we find some interesting rankings based on deaths per 100,000 of population.  Maine with a 10.2 factor ranks below two well known gun control states, California at 8.5 and New York at 5.3.  To see the entire table including the footnotes at the CDC website click here.

Since the post is about gun control, it is reasonable to use gun deaths as a factor in determining "safest".  Maine certainly doesn't seem to be the safest.

Does the entire argument of the post fall apart?  I think so.  It makes the poster feel good to be against gun control, and from the comments and likes I saw on Facebook, many people think this "proves" that gun control doesn't work.  Unfortunately the argument shown doesn't make the case.





Rating: 2 clowns - misleading.

Posted in Crazy on Facebook and tagged .

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