Math & The News: Guns

Lately, there has been a lot of talk about guns. Gun violence has become the hot topic of the past couple years with the frightening increase in mass shootings, especially in schools. Protests, like with the March for Our Lives (a planned demonstration that took place on March 24, 2018, in Washington, D.C. and throughout the U.S.) are becoming more and more frequent.

Although the topic of our culture’s relationship with guns is a sensitive topic, it is a topic that needs discussing. As it stands, half of the U.S. populace demands strict gun control while the other half believes that would be an attack against the 2nd Amendment. Opinions about what will effectively make us safer as a nation remains subjective to the vast majority.

When discussing such a hard topic, it is beneficial to quantify.

Numbers help organize and lay out the nitty-gritty confusion that can sometimes prevent proper discussion, especially sensitive ones like this. In reports from the RAND Corporation and the daily tabloid newspaper, The Guardian, there is data available that takes a look at gun ownership, gun violence, and permissive versus restrictive gun policies.

Mark Reid, a blogger for Inductio Ex Machina, posted recently about the relation of gun ownership to gun violence. He used data from Wikipedia and plotted the data using a statistical computing software called R. Looking at the graphs provided on Reid’s blog, it is important to note the correlation of gun ownership to gun violence.

So, where does math come in with all of this? Math helps us make sense of a variety of issues by plotting data in an organized and legible manner. The language of math is universal; it can be understood across all language barriers. It displays data in a factual, logical manner, allowing us to view a matter without the emotions – not to dismiss the importance of emotions, but sometimes it is beneficial to look at things with an analytical light. Math is important in the process of analysis and investigation, particularly when such data is necessary for topics of this importance.