While covering Wednesday’s shootings in Lewiston, Maine, CNN pointed to misleading data and claimed there have been 525 “mass shootings” in 2023.
CNN reported the shootings in Maine “added to a list of 565 reported across the United States this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive.”
Breitbart News has previously explained that the figures from the Gun Violence Archive are reached, in part, by changing the definition of a “mass shooting,” thereby allowing drive-by incidents, double or triple homicides, gang violence, and other such crimes to be counted as “mass shootings.”
The Gun Violence Archive counts incidents in which there are “a minimum of four victims shot, either injured or killed, not including any shooter who may also have been killed or injured in the incident,” as “mass shootings.”
On April 15, 2021, the Rand Corporation observed the standard for “mass shootings” was derived from the FBI’s 1980s definition of a “mass murderer” as an individual who “kills four or more people in a single incident (not including himself).” Therefore, four or more deaths in a single incident by a single gunman was the working definition of a “mass shooting.”
But the Gun Violence Archive’s approach departs from what has been standard, using a much lower threshold for qualifying incidents as “mass shootings,” thereby allowing a higher number of such incidents to be reported.
Here is an example: An October 28, 2022, incident the GVA lists as a “mass shooting” took place at a funeral for a 20-year-old Pittsburgh man. There were no fatalities in the incident and police are not certain how many gunman opened fire. Moreover, when police commander Richard Ford was asked if the violence was gang related he responded, “Obviously we believe there’s a dispute going on and we’re looking into that.”
Although there were no fatalities, and who knows how many shooters, and the incident occurred in a location where police think a gang dispute is ongoing, the Gun Violence Archive counted it as a “mass shooting.”
While covering the shootings in Maine, CNN praised the Gun Violence Archive, claiming, “For all its data background, the Gun Violence Archive’s work is, at its heart, basic journalism.”
AWR Hawkins is an award-winning Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and the writer/curator of Down Range with AWR Hawkins, a weekly newsletter focused on all things Second Amendment, also for Breitbart News. He is the political analyst for Armed American Radio and a Turning Point USA Ambassador. He was a Visiting Fellow at the Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal in 2010, a speaker at the 2023 Western Conservative Summit, and he holds a Ph.D. in Military History, with a focus on the Vietnam War (brown water navy), U.S. Navy since Inception, the Civil War, and Early Modern Europe. Follow him on Instagram: @awr_hawkins. You can sign up to get Down Range at breitbart.com/downrange. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org