You have a point Kyle that all too often people accept a “fact” without any critical thinking or analysis. In fact, the more divisive the issue, the more likely people are to dig in their heels and ignore contrary information.
It is not just information that we need but reasoned analysis as well. For example, you point out all the “mass shootings” (in quotes because this term does not have an official definition — the closest you get is the FBI’s definition which requires more than this particular website) which you found on the “Gun Violence Archive”. There are some very basic and very important aspects missing from this information — aspects that are difficult for average people to find and check. For example, this information aggregates LEGAL uses — cops, self defense, etc — with illegal uses like murder. This alone will skew the data and give you an incorrect conclusion. Moreover, how do they define and assign the category — “Party incidence” vs “Gang related” ect. This is a fundamental aspect of the reliability of this data — pretty important and not visible on their website.
Further, is it incidents that are important or actual lives impacted? A gang fight where 4 delinquents shoot each other counts for this purpose as one “mass shooting”. The terrorist murders in San Bernardino killed 16 innocent people and injured 19 more. Yet it counts as one “mass shooting” as well. These two incidents are not even remotely the same. In fact the deeper you look into their data the more you realize that the methodology is fundamentally flawed. Almost so much that you would have to assume it is purposeful.
When looking at “facts” there is a shortcut — you can look at the motivation of the person providing the data. For example, the “gun violence archive” links to websites like “Everytown for Gun Safety” and “The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence”. These are organizations that DO want to take away American’s access to guns. They can hardly be relied upon as an unbiased source of information.
Politics is an ugly business full of half truths and whole lies. At the end of the day there are two sides fighting it out — full freedom or full control. It really is that basic. Everything lies in between these two. We are left to simply determine what we believe is the correct mix.