Today I received this email that is making the rounds, no doubt due to the impending gun control case before the Supreme Court on Washington DCs handgun ban:
If you consider that there has been an average of 160,000 troops in the Iraq theater of operations during the last 22 months, and a total of 2,112 deaths, when this was written) that gives a firearm death rate of 60 per 100,000 soldiers.
The firearm death rate in Washington D. C. is 80.6 per 100,000 for the same period. (...and that was while handguns were outlawed!!)
That means that you are about 25% more likely to be shot and killed in the U. S. Capitol, which has some of the strictest gun control laws in the nation, than you are in Iraq.
PASS THIS ON 'cuz you can be sure that CNN, NBC, ABC and CBS won't!
Uh, yeah, we can hope they won't. Why? Well, doesn't it set off your BS alarms right away? Isn't it highly unlikely that any US city could have a mortality rate higher than soldiers in active combat? Of course it is. So let's check the math, shall we? We are given:
2,112 deaths (queue Rush, and I mean the band, not the dissembling dolt on the radio)
80.6 deaths per 100,000
Now, it doesn't take Archimedes to see that 2,112 deaths among 160,000 is going to be a far higher average than 80.6 in 100,000. In fact, it is 1,320 per 100,000, higher by a factor of 15 than the email claim. Even if you make the reasonable assumption that the 80.6 is an annualized figure, it only drops to 1,320 / 22 X 12 or 720 deaths per 100,000 per annum.
This is so indicative of what is wrong with American political discourse. First of all, we have people sending this note around that are apparently so innumerate that they can't even discern an error of an order of magnitude. Second, those who did notice ignored it and sent the note around anyway, because after all, in American politics, it's more important that your team win than it is to be honest.
Let's hope the gun control issue is decided using better and more honest analysis than that.