"... basing that tally on incidents collected by an anonymous Twitter user. The organization, however, won’t say who is behind the tweets or how reliable its data is as a statistical compilation."
Gun deaths? So... just mix in the accidents and the suicides. Now, personally, as you may know from previous discussions on this blog, I think suicide is murder. Morally, it should be recognized as the deliberate killing of a human being. But many people withhold moral judgment and express only sadness and sympathy. I am sympathetic when the self-killer is mentally ill, but I'm also sympathetic when those who murder others are mentally ill.
But what's with grouping self-murder and murder of others for the purposes of Slate's gun-death map? It's a great way to boost the numbers. Google statistics, and I think you'll see that in the United States, there are twice as many suicides as murders, and that proportion is also true within the category of gun deaths. Shooting oneself is the most common method of suicide.
I realize some people think that there would be less suicide if people didn't have guns at hand. But I wonder how many of the mentally disturbed/emotionally overwrought men who shoot themselves to death are self-executors — that is, persons who feel a compulsion toward violence and stop themselves. There are murderers — like Adam Lanza — who murder and then kill themselves. There is no sympathy for these suicides, yet many people think: I wish he'd killed himself first.
If he had, it probably wouldn't have made the news, but if you'd read his story, you would have reacted the way you usually do to suicide: How sad... if only he'd perceived that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem... whatever it is you usually think when you read that an isolated, bullied 20-year-old man has shot himself in the head. Would you ever think to speculate that he knew that he had an irresistible, evil impulse to gun down children, and, thank God, he had one last shred of humanity and turned the gun on himself?
Gun deaths. You can collect them on a map as faceless pins, all looking alike. It's all numbers. No individuality. What are you counting? I don't know what these pins represent. Use a different color for suicides. And which suicides are uncontrolled mental illness? Who is checking out because of uncontrolled physical pain? Identify the justified killings, done in self-defense. I want to know which ones are criminals gunning down other criminals. I'd like to think about policy with some complexity and without irrational fear mongering.
Ironically, Slate seems to want to inspire urgency about the loss of human life, but it is reducing the lives we're supposed to care so much about to a bunch of dots who matter only because they're a massive crowd. Where is the individuality? There is particularity to each death, despite the common element of the gun.