Misleading Gun Death Stats: "Gun Mortality" State Rankings
Mixing suicide with homicide makes for misleading rankings
Yes, there are even more misleading gun death statistics.
I’ll keep doing this as long as people keep dragging this stuff out.
The CDC: Firearm mortality page
Well, well, well, CDC. What is this crap.
If you read my recent post, you’d know most gun deaths are suicides.
Most people, when they see “firearm mortality” are probably thinking “homicides”.
The map above is including all gun-related deaths, which, as just linked, are mostly suicides. There is a small amount that is of other intent (accidents, legal intervention, war-related (very few)).
John Legend looks to total gun deaths for rankings
The reason this came up is due to the usual Memorial Day weekend slaughter in Chicago, and John Legend’s prohibition over discussing it:
Legend links to the CDC page and its ranking of total gun death rates.
You will see that Illinois is very far down on that ranking list.
Because many of the states ranked high on that list have high gun suicide rates. Once we remove the suicides, and focus solely on the homicides, the ranking changes quite a lot.
Ranking by gun homicides
I grabbed the info from CDC WONDER on gun homicides for 2020.
Here is the ranking of gun homicides by age-adjusted death rates (and it also has DC in the list) – just the top ten:
Illinois is #9. Chicago has the entire rest of the state to balance itself out.
A map by gun homicies
Here is an entire tile grid map:
Other than tile grid maps looking different from standard geographic projections, you’ll see that the west looks very different from before. Gun suicide rates tend to be relatively high in the west.
Illinois is very different in this ranking, because it’s tilted more towards homicides compared to suicides.
As for the states that disappeared from the tile grid map, they had so few gun homicides they were “suppressed” (so they had fewer than 10 gun homicides in 2020). They have low gun suicide and homicide rates.
Again, why are we mixing the intents?
Now, I’m not expecting John Legend to realize that a lot of the states are high-ranked for gun deaths due to high gun suicide rates. It’s not his area of expertise. He doesn’t know why that table was misleading.
But the CDC knows the difference, and I really don’t see the helpfulness to talk “gun mortality”, when suicide is of a different nature from homicide, especially when guns are involved.
As I mentioned in the prior post, those who know better should stop mixing risk classes like these. Suicide and homicide are very different in age profile, no matter the method, and those who work at the CDC very well know that.
I’m glad the CDC provides data sets I can rely on, but I am very unhappy they are presenting “firearm mortality” as a ranking table and map in a misleading way.