Gun Violence Archive claims to have independent, non-advocate; accurate data. That is simply not true.
Data is important. From a political perspective it is often data that helps to solidify a particular position or another. Data from organizations that claim to be unbiased and non-advocates is among the best data to use in citation or in understanding the social impacts of legislation or regulation. Unfortunately it is commonplace to see "non-advocate" groups actually advocating for one side or the other. Even if they don't intend to do so.
Here's the concern. When your data is not correct, even if it's because of a line of code in your website structure or an anomaly in your algorithm (which I'm not saying this is), you need to be proactive about it and make sure it gets fixed. You don't just ignore it and hope it goes away.
In the case of the 2nd Amendment discussion in the United States right now, data is crucial to helping the electorate and politicians make decisions regarding what the Founding Fathers seemed to regard as at least our second most fundamental right - the right to bear arms.
The Gun Violence Archive claims certain things about their mission and capacity:
So Gun Violence Archive (On Facebook: HERE and on Twitter: HERE) claims to be providing access to "accurate" "gunviolence" "data" when it violates the principles of each of those words and then ignores the problem by avoiding the questions about the veracity of their tools.
On November 25th, I eagerly used their newest data aggregation tool to find statistics about gun violence in my Congressional District. I had no reason to doubt the data being presented, until under heavier scrutiny, the veracity of their data crumbled before my eyes. Some points of interest to those in search of accurate data:
1. Since when is a suspect being shot by a law enforcement officer considered gun violence? No reputable resource would treat lawful gun discharge by a Law Enforcement officer in the course of their duties to be labeled "Gun Violence" and yet they have a category for it.
2. If the tool is accurate as of November 25th 2016, why does it not show gun violence perpetrated by a criminal suspect on the police that happened more than a month earlier in the CA-36th District? I'm of course speaking of the senseless killings of Officer Vega and Officer Zerebny.
3. Why is "Defensive Use" classified as "Gun Violence"? Lawful discharge of a firearm in defense of one's self or life is not gun violence.
4. Why does the number of incidents not correlate to the sum total or some derivative of the total of "Number of Deaths" and "Number of Injuries"? Seems like there might be some double dipping.
5. If truly a non-advocate, why isn't there a functionality that shows the decline or increase of gun violence in a given demographic area?
See the Screen Shots below:
As a purportedly unbiased organization, Gun Violence Archive should strive for better accountability; more accurate information and audits to their system to ensure they are remaining unbiased.
OR THEY SHOULD STATE THEIR ADVOCACY POSITION PUBLICLY.
The lives of Heroes Officers Vega and Zerebny should not be relegated to a footnote and should not be forgotten in demagoguery of a NFP organization with an identity crisis. Gun Violence should be reported as such and incidents with firearms should be reported separately as appropriate.
Furthermore, it is my suggestion that Gang related gun violence should be reported as a sub-segment of gun violence.
Mass shootings should be non-gang related (as defined by the threat) and should have some reasonable standard of basis (i.e. more than 3 people shot/wounded/killed). Accidental discharges should not be counted as mass shootings.
Even further: Data Disseminators who claim to be unbiased and are funded by outside sources (Gun Violence Archive claims not to be) should be held accountable for updating data as rulings/sentences/absolutions are handed out removing the incident from a specific category of "Gun Violence". "gun Violence should have specific meaning across the board and a statute to be held to instead of frivolously throwing the term out there into the public realm. Gun Violence should never be confused with Law enforcement use of firearms, unless the officer is charged and convicted of illegal activity surrounding the event.
We are all entitled to our opinions, we are NOT ENTITLED TO OUR OWN FACTS.