The greatest visualization of the toll of gun violence in America was created by the studio Periscopic in 2010. It depicted the 400,000 years of life lost to gun violence in America, and it’s absolutely chilling. The second greatest may have been published today by the New York Times. Instead of charting life and death in complex graphics, it paints a picture in words–listing the steps it takes to buy a gun in the U.S. versus other countries across the world.
In the U.S., it’s two steps.
1. Pass an instant background check that includes criminal convictions, domestic violence and immigration status.
2. Buy a gun.
For comparison, in Japan, it’s thirteen.
1. Join a hunting or shooting club. 2. Take a firearm class and pass a written exam, which is held up to three times a year. 3. Get a doctor’s note saying you are mentally fit and do not have a history of drug abuse. 4. Apply for a permit to take firing training, which may take up to a month. 5. Describe in a police interview why you need a gun. 6. Pass a review of your criminal history, gun possession record, employment, involvement with organized crime groups, personal debt and relationships with friends, family and neighbors. 7. Apply for a gunpowder permit. 8. Take a one-day training class and pass a firing test. 9. Obtain a certificate from a gun dealer describing the gun you want. 10. Buy a gun safe and an ammunition locker that meet safety regulations. 11. Allow the police to inspect your gun storage. 12. Pass an additional background review. 13. Buy a gun.
So why do I consider this list a superb “graphic”? Because a long pile of words is the perfect encapsulation of the forms and fine type of bureaucracy–which in the case of gun ownership, is something that 90% of Americans actually want a lot more of.
For those following the way the media is changing its approach to interactive infographics, this words-make-graphics approach is actually the same strategy the NYT used to depict the insults of Trump, and it was superb there, too.