Mother Jones: Average of 1.95 ‘Public Mass Shootings’ in U.S. Per Year

Tim Barber/Chattanooga Times Free Press via AP
Tim Barber/Chattanooga Times Free Press via AP

In a figure that is a far cry from the 207 mass shootings that CNN claimed took place in the first 207 days of 2015, Mother Jones quotes a study that claims there were approximately “90 public mass shootings” in the U.S. over a period of 46 years.

That is about 1.95 “public mass shootings” a year.

According to Mother Jones, University of Alabama associate professor Adam Lankford’s study was an examination of the years 1966 to 2012. He found a total of “90 public mass shootings” in America during that time frame. His criteria for a “public mass shootings” uses the standard threshold of four deaths in an incident, which is the same criteria used by the Congressional Research Service (CRS) for studies carried out for Congress.

Using this approach, Lankford found an average of approximately 1.95 “public mass shootings” per year. This aligns closely with what the CRS found when they determined there had been less than four and a half “mass public shootings” a year in the U.S. during the smaller time frame of 1999-2013.

On the other hand, CNN’s Fareed Zakaria said a claim of 207 mass shootings in the first 207 days of 2015 was “almost literally true” based on reports from Shooting Tracker, an online source that keeps a running tally of mass public shootings but does not require a single fatality in order to categorize an event as a mass shooting. Instead, Shooting Tracker says, “A mass shooting is when four or more people are shot in an event, or related series of events, likely without a cooling off period.”

This means an incident where four people are injured is a mass shooting just like the incident in which 26 people were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary.

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