Nate Silver Adds Some Context to Gun Control: The Nerds Bring the Numbers

It’s always good when an argument is brewing and the boiler plate rhetoric gets old as it takes us nowhere, to look at a few numbers. Nate Silver has a couple of good posts: One article looking at gun control and how it is related to party identity. Another article looking at the rhetoric associated with the issue is up as well. They are both good reads. A couple of things I’ve learned.

When you look at Silver’s graph “mentions per 5,000 articles – 5 year averages,” you are looking at a graph that filters out much of the new cycle driven statistical noise. It shows a clear and pronounced reduction in the number of times the words “gun control” are used in the media which began in 2000, accelerated greatly post 9/11. What this tells me is that the fear generated from 9/11 is very operative under the surface when it comes to the issues of guns and personal protection/safety. I had not made that connection. It’s also interesting to look at the counter-rhetoric develop and grow.

The other article was perhaps even more interesting. I was not aware of all of the numbers concerning gun ownership and race, gender, and party. These demographic numbers are interesting to me as a pastor because he also broke it out according to “religion” and “religious attendance.” Those who are active in a religion are among the highest probability to own a gun. I’m not drawing a conclusion from that right now, but thought it was interesting.

I encourage everyone to read up on this issue. Look at the numbers. Try to find a way to listen to both sides. Remember that this conversation is always a struggle between personal freedoms and the common good. Read about that here.

About Tim Suttle

Find out more about Tim at

Tim Suttle is the senior pastor of He is the author of several books including his most recent - Shrink: Faithful Ministry in a Church Growth Culture (Zondervan 2014), Public Jesus (The House Studio, 2012), & An Evangelical Social Gospel? (Cascade, 2011). Tim's work has been featured at The Huffington Post, The Washington Post, Sojourners, and other magazines and journals.

Tim is also the founder and front-man of the popular Christian band Satellite Soul, with whom he toured for nearly a decade. The band's most recent album is "Straight Back to Kansas." He helped to plant three thriving churches over the past 13 years and is the Senior Pastor of Redemption Church in Olathe, Kan. Tim's blog, Paperback Theology, is hosted at Patheos.

  • Susan Burns

    I think the reason 9/11 resulted in more hoarding of weapons is because fundamentalists think the tribulation is closer.

  • scott stone

    Check out the new data from Silver on partisanship in the NYT. As much as the MSM says its all the R’s, Nate shows that it is pretty evenly divided. So is it the chicken or the egg? Is congress a reflection of the electorate or is it the other way around? Obama says he won a mandate that the country elected him to raise taxes on the rich (his words, not mine.) But the Republicans that won their districts won by a far greater margin than the president did nationally. So do they have a mandate for their districts? Things aren’t so black and white as we are lead to believe.