Next #geowebchat, January 8: Mapping the gun control debate

In the next #geowebchat we will be discussing the geographic and cartographic dimensions of the gun control debate in the United States, in the wake of last month’s school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.

Mass shootings occur with tragic regularity in the US, and after each event we see new maps of gun ownership and gun violence, both in traditional media and on the geoweb. Some maps catalog the scale of the problem, like this map from Mother Jones that shows at least 62 mass shootings in the last 30 years: A Guide to Mass Shootings in America. Other maps attempt to contextualize the problem, such as these from The Guardian’s Data Blog that show state-by-state statistics for gun violence and a comparison of gun ownership and homicides in countries around the world. Similarly, Richard Florida’s 2011 post The Geography of Gun Death correlates gun deaths with various other statistics, treading into tricky questions of cause-and-effect. Finally, a new article this week from Slate uses maps and charts to emphasize that that gun deaths are a continuing phenomenon, not limited to high-profile mass killings: How Many People Have Been Killed by Guns Since Newtown?

After the latest event in Newtown, we’ve seen a new development: the use of geoweb maps (created both by established media outlets and by citizen mapmakers) to shame or pressure individuals by compromising their privacy. On December 22, The Lower Hudson Journal News posted a controversial map of all registered gun permits in Rockland and Westchester counties, prompting concerns that gun owners might be targeted by protesters or criminals, or conversely, that the map shows which households are not armed and therefore ideal targets for crime. In retaliation, a blogger posted the home addresses of employees of The Journal News, leading the newspaper to hire armed guards

In Tuesday’s #geowebchat we will discuss all these stories and more. As always we meet on Twitter at the hashtag #geowebchat for a one hour discussion starting at 12pm PST (3pm EDT / 8pm GMT). Please join us if you can!





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