Brace yourself…the push for gun control is coming.
Editor-in-chief at The Daily Wire, Ben Shapiro, tweeted out a chart that completely debunks the myth that the murder rates increase as guns become more available in the United States.
The chart tracks the percent change in the number of privately-owned firearms compared to the percent change in the gun homicide rate. According to the chart, the number of privately-owned firearms has climbed 56 percent between 1993 and 2013, while the gun homicide rate fell 49 percent in the same period.
The chart tweeted out by Ben Shapiro is an attempt to counter some of the attention-grabbing headlines offered by mainstream news agencies suggesting that an increase in guns causes an increase in crime.
“U.S. Has More Guns – And Gun Deaths – Than Any Other Country, Study Finds,” charged an ABC News headline from 2013. Their implications are clear even though the data they cite does not attempt to find a causal link between gun ownership and gun deaths. America has the most guns and the most gun deaths, but it does not follow that the two are causally linked. There could be different underlying causes for the two pieces of data resulting in spurious causation.
Similarly, The New York Times published a headline in 2013 declaring, “More Guns = More Killing.” Again, the implication is clear. However, what you do not learn from The New York Time’s headline is that the article discusses murder rates in poverty-stricken Central America, and not the US itself. Worse yet, many of the Central American countries included in The New York Times’ analysis have legally enshrined limits on private gun ownership.
So, the graph shared by Ben Shapiro provides evidence against the claim that “More Guns = More Killing,” since between 1993 and 2013 there has been an increase in the total number of guns in circulation while gun homicide rates fell during the same period.
Jordan Ellenberg, a professor of mathematics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison offered a snarky critique of the graph supplied by Ben Shapiro. “Did this guy really just make a chart comparing an absolute number with a per-capita rate?” he tweeted.
Ben Shapiro, who has a reputation for intellectual honesty, said he appreciated the critique. “This is a correct critique. Thanks for the clarification!” He continued, adding, “It is worth noting however that the argument is that more guns sold = more murder, not only more gun owners. That is the only reason I’m not deleting the original tweet; the chart still speaks to that first point.”
Ben Shapiro put out a chart that completely debunks the myth that the murder rates increase as guns become more available in the United States. Do more guns mean more murders?
Here, Ellenberg raises the important objection that it is bad math to compare rates with real numbers. Essentially, the chart supplied by Shapiro compared the gun homicide rate (typically the number of gun homicides per 100,000 citizens) to the total number of privately-owned guns in America. While contrasting rates and real numbers is bad practice, it does not necessarily invalidate the data provided. Another Twitter user jumped in to provide a similar chart comparing gun homicides with the number of guns per person.
Here you go pic.twitter.com/2N0DHsTtGZ
— Brandon Breakwell (@Breakwell) October 3, 2017
This updated chart also supports Shapiro’s contention that more guns do not directly equate to more gun deaths, despite the attention-grabbing headlines from mainstream media publications.