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    letters | GUN VIOLENCE: THE NUMBERS

    Cartoonist’s numbers don’t add up

    The Jan. 19 cartoon “A Weapon Guide for the Uninformed” should have been labeled “Misinformation for the Uninformed.” The cartoonist, Michael Ramirez, rightly points out that mass shootings kill few people relative to other causes of death, such as auto accidents. But he sadly picks misinformation over information for the “uninformed” to digest.

    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, firearms killed 32,163 Americans in 2011, which is about the same as auto accidents. Ramirez focuses on only a subset of firearms deaths, rather than their full number. In addition, he shows automobile deaths as a total, then shows an additional subset of that same data as drunk driving. That is, the cartoonist undercounts deaths from guns, and overcounts deaths for auto accidents.

    I love humor and graphic representation, but it should be honest information. Ramirez’s point that people are killed far more often with bare hands than with assault rifles is not lost. I guess that’s why the folks at the National Rifle Association would prefer to see strangers enter their headquarters toting assault weapons rather than simply bare-handed — or would they?

    Tad Gallion

    Brookline