On December 31 Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) claimed there were 372 mass shootings–or more than one mass shooting a day–during calendar year 2015. On the other hand, Mother Jones editor Mark Follman reported four mass shootings for the whole year and USA Today reported approximately 22.
What accounts for the jump from from four–or even 22–to 372? The jump is the result of Senator Chris Murphy’s (D-CT) complete rejection of the FBI criteria for a mass shooting. That criteria is four fatalities in one shooting incident. Instead of using this, Murphy has adopted the criteria of Shooting Tracker, a website which labels any shooting or series of shootings a “mass shooting” if there are four or more injuries.
There does not have to be a death, and the injuries do not have to be the result of just one shooting incident but can be the result of numerous incidents added together. This means Senator Murphy counts a parking lot shootout–like the one WMC-TV reported between two groups of people in two separate cars in Memphis, Tennessee in October–as a “mass shooting.” And it also means that an Elkhart, Indiana, parking brawl involving over a 100 people–where some of those people pulled guns and opened fire–counts as a “mass shooting” too. The South Bend Tribune reported that “four individuals were found to be wounded” in that October 14 brawl.
In addition to inflating the number of annual mass shootings from four to 372, Senator Murphy’s tack also allows an inflation in the number of deaths from mass shootings. For example, Shooting Tracker shows 16 deaths in the San Bernardino terror attack that took the lives of 14 innocents. Shooting Tracker is able to do this by lumping in the lives of the two deceased shooters with the those of the innocent victims.
In the same way, Shooting Tracker claims 10 deaths in the attack that took place in the Umpqua Community College’s gun free zone. The real toll was nine innocents, but Shooting Tracker lumps in gunman Chris Harper Mercer’s life too.
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