Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Background & Newspapermap - Pt. 1


The fun begins

I started logging information for newspapers in Oregon. At present, I log classify 25 newspapers in 8 minutes (roughly 188 per hour). The most time-consuming part is copying the link from the balloon that pops up when I click on a newspaper's location. I'm thinking about better ways of doing this, but at present, I should be able to finish most of the west coast in a week or so. The east coast will take longer, as there are more newspapers and they're more densely packed - hence more zooming necessary. I'm still trying to think of an effective way of MTurking this.

Statistical Background on Gun Violence

So far

At this stage of the project, I have been focused on ascertaining what information about gun violence was previously collected by the CDC and other government agencies, and how these statistics are gathered.

What the CDC used to collect

I found a report from pre-1997 which focuses on injuries and deaths related to firearms. Additionally, I found a a table in a more general report from 2001 which lists causes of death by "mechanism" - "firearms" is one of the categories. Additionally, this report illustrates some of the "circumstances" of firearm injuries - eg. whether they occur at work, or due to "interpersonal violence". The report also includes this handy graphic:

Handy graphic from the CDC's Surveillance for Fatal and Nonfatal Firearm-Related Injuries --- United States, 1993--1998, (Gotsch et al.)

While this report does speak to how firearms are used, it doesn't really say anything about the demographics of the people involved in these types of incidents. Additionally, I have found no information for any year more recent than 1998.

How they get the data

It turns out, the CDC and the Consumer Product Safety Commission team up to gather data from something called NEISS - the "National Electronic Injury Surveillance System", which is database of information from various hospitals around the country. To give an idea of the sample sizes, the 2001 report above included data from 100 hospitals. NEISS can ostensibly be queried from its website, but when I tried, there was a recurring javascript error.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics also uses data from NEISS to inform its reports. They also run their own program called Firearm Inquiry Statistics (FIST) Program which has information from 1994 - 2005 which includes "[d]ata ... collected directly from state agencies conducting background checks and from local checking agencies and [including] the number of firearm applications made to the agency, firearm applications rejected by the agency, and the reasons for rejection". (Example summary information from the 2005 report: only 1.6% of firearm applications were denied in 2005 - 46% because the requester had a previous felony conviction).

Next Steps

The next steps for me will

1 comment:

  1. You might want to check the FBI website as well, for example:

    And I stumbled upon a Wikipedia page that has lots of references. It looks like a lot of them are news articles, but some may be datasets too:

    Nice job on the newspapers/hour rate!