In Most Of America, Gun Stores Outnumber Coffee Shops

Visualizations by Nathan Yau show the US as a country buried in guns–even more than it’s buried in fast food joints.


It feels like there’s a Starbucks or McDonald’s on every corner. And there are a lot–about 11,500 of the green sirens, and 14,000 golden arches. But compared to the 64,432 licensed firearms dealers and pawnbrokers in our country reported by the ATF, these two titans are dwarfed.


It’s a lesson in just how inundated with guns that America has become, illustrated by data viz artist Nathan Yau through a new series of maps on FlowingData. The maps compare the number of gun retailers in an area with coffee, burger, and pizza chains, and as you’ll see, the guns more than hold their own.

via FlowingData

These maps break the entire U.S. into 10-mile circles. If the circles are black, that means there are more gun retailers. If they’re yellow, green, or orange, that means there are more burger joints, coffee shops, or pizza places, respectively. In each rendition, the story is the same: The U.S. is essentially a sea of black with only sporadic dots of color. In fact, it’s only when Yau combines burgers, pizzas, and coffees to stand against gun shops does the map look about 50/50 in its distribution of guns vs. food.

However, it’s worth noting what this map isn’t showing us: population and store density. It’s treating all 10-mile parcels of the U.S. equally. Which is why, if you look at places like NYC and the California coast–heck, even cities in Texas–it appears that our food chains actually fare much better.

Of course, that doesn’t change the simple, sad fact, that in most of America, you’re closer to a gun than a Big Mac. Though I guess both will kill you.

All Images (unless otherwise noted): via [i]FlowingData. Cover Photo: Ellen Jaskol/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images[/i]

About the author

Mark Wilson is a senior writer at Fast Company who has written about design, technology, and culture for almost 15 years. His work has appeared at Gizmodo, Kotaku, PopMech, PopSci, Esquire, American Photo and Lucky Peach