A Congressional Research Services (CRS) study released on July 30 is devoid of evidence to back gun control groups’ claims of an “epidemic” of “mass public shootings.”
In fact, counter to claims of “207 mass shootings” in the first 207 days of 2015–a claim CNN’s Fareed Zakaria suggested is “almost literally true“–the CRS study shows an average of “21 mass shootings” annually in the US during the time period of 1999-2013. And of the most televised and widely reported type of attack–a “mass public shooting”–the CRS report found an annual occurrence of “4.4” a year, or less than four and half incidents per year.
The CRS study uses a “four victim threshold” and differentiates between “mass shootings” and “mass public shootings” thus:
Mass Shooting – which means a multiple homicide incident in which four or more victims are murdered with firearms—not including the offender(s)—within one event, and in one or more locations in close geographical proximity.
Mass Public Shooting – which means a multiple homicide incident in which four or more victims are murdered with firearms—not including the offender(s)—within one event, and at least some of the murders occurred in a public location or locations in close geographical proximity (e.g., a workplace, school, restaurant, or other public settings), and the murders are not attributable to any other underlying criminal activity or commonplace circumstance (armed robbery, criminal competition, insurance fraud, argument, or romantic triangle).
For time period studied–1999-2013–the CRS found only a slight uptick in events during last five years (2009-2013), but credited that uptick to 2012; the year of the Aurora theater attack and Sandy Hook. CRS points out that without 2012, the last five year “averages would actually have been lower than the preceding five year period (2004-2008).”
Reason magazine reported that Northwest University’s James Alan Fox commented on the CRS study by saying the data shows “a great volatility in the numbers. There’s no solid trend.” This bolsters arguments Fox has made for some time; namely, the static nature of such shootings versus the efforts of media outlets and gun control groups to give the impression that mass shootings and mass public shootings are happening at a rapidly increasing pace.
Fox added one more comment on the CRS study: “No matter how you cut it, there’s no epidemic.”
Follow AWR Hawkins on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.