Last week, Facebook announced that it would ban former President Donald Trump from its platform for at least two years.
The same day I read this story, I saw a shared post of a photo of someone holding a sign that read:
“Last year handguns killed:
10 people in Japan.
50 in Great Britain.
47 in Switzerland.
611 in Canada.
105 in Israel.
41 in Sweden.
38,658 in the United States. “
Below this listing, the phrase “God bless America” was placed above a pistol decorated with the stars and stripes of the American flag.
At the very bottom was the punchline: “Stop the handguns before they stop you.” “
Everyone has the right to have their own opinion on gun control, but no one has the right to present false information as fact. Isn’t that what the new Facebook protocols say?
There are so many factual errors in the sign data that it’s hard to know where to start to correct them. A version of this article has been around for at least 2012 and possibly earlier (some versions included West Germany, which hadn’t been around for decades). So much for any notion of apolitical loyalty to Facebook’s factuality.
While “last year” on the current version is supposed to be 2020, gun data is yet to be compiled.
The latest year for which gun-related deaths are available is 2019, for which the total count was 38,355, which also included 23,941 suicides. But that sum included all firearms, not just handguns.
Handguns typically account for about two-thirds of the approximately 11,000 gun murders committed each year in the United States.
Of the 195 countries in the world today, the selection of six countries is hardly representative of anything. And why these handpicked half-dozen? A true analysis might choose the top six countries, determined not by whole numbers (which are inaccurate if populations vary) but by the rate per static population denominator.
In addition, this analysis could be significantly improved by comparing the rate of firearm homicides to the rate of firearm possession, in order to confirm or refute the idea that higher possession of firearms. fire is directly linked to a higher number of gun deaths.
The 10 countries with the worst gun homicide rates are El Salvador, Jamaica, Eswatini, Honduras, Venezuela, Brazil, Guatemala, Colombia, Mexico and South Africa.
The premise of gun control advocates is that more guns translate to more gun crime, but looking at countries with the highest level of gun homicides, this doesn’t is not at all the picture that emerges.
El Salvador is 56th among the armed nations per 100 inhabitants. The gun ownership rate in the United States is 21 times higher than in El Salvador, yet the gun homicide rate in El Salvador is 15 times ours.
Americans own many more guns, but kill each other much less often than El Salvadorians. The same is true in comparison with Jamaica (46th in possession of weapons), Eswatini (54th), Honduras (41st) and the others. None of the worst gun homicide countries are among the top 20 countries ranked for gun possession.
If the sign on that Facebook post featured the deadliest nations with guns, it would have looked like this:
“Homicides by firearm per 100,000 inhabitants:
66.60 in El Salvador.
38.20 in Jamaica.
37.16 in Eswatini.
28.65 in Honduras.
26.48 in Venezuela.
22.91 in Brazil.
4.46 in the United States. “
Another useful analytical approach would be to compare rates of firearm homicide with sources of immigration. After all, if we think gun crime is already a problem here (and it is), it doesn’t make much sense to import people from places where it’s much worse.
We could create a gun culture accountability ratio to brand nations: divide the rate of gun homicides by the rate of gun ownership. The top-rated nations would be those whose citizens own more guns and behave more legally with them. Low scoring countries would be those where fewer firearms are in circulation but are used for criminal purposes at higher rates.
It might be prudent in immigration matters to impose a moratorium on places where the ratio was above a certain level. A good maximum number might be 0.5.
Using such a measure, El Salvador’s score would be 11.5. All of the top 10 gun homicide countries would score too high for immigration approval, as would a number of other Latin American countries.
The American score would be 0.04 and Canada’s only 0.014. Comparing countries using such a gun liability ratio – where gun crime to existing guns is the measure – brings a balanced perspective to a topic that is still so wildly sensational.
Facebook’s original poster photo had been shared 41,000 times and it is impossible to know how many times it was shared on other social media platforms like Twitter and other apps or websites like Pinterest. Or how many people have been misinformed.
What I do know is that unlike Trump, it’s still on Facebook, and still shared every two minutes, despite its blatant falsehood.
Move on, Fakebook nickname. Two-Facebook has arrived.
Dana D. Kelley is a freelance writer for Jonesboro.