The Guardian and The Washington Post are reporting sky-high numbers of “mass shooting” incidents in America over the past few years while scholarly studies and Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports show a very low number of incidents, relatively speaking.
For example, the Guardian reports 994 “mass shooting” incidents over the past 1,004 days and the WaPo reports one a week since January 2013 while the CRS reports a pattern of 4.4 “mass public shooting” events a year and University of Alabama’s Adam Lankford shows about 1.95 such shootings a year over a 46-year time span.
How can such a discrepancy exist? It exists because the CRS and Lankford use the standard criteria of four deaths to determine a mass shooting while the Guardian and the WaPo are relying on an outlet called Shooting Tracker, which does not even require a fatality in order to count a crime as a mass shooting. It simply finds instances where four people were wounded and label it a mass shooting.
This opens the door for gang or other criminal activity to be counted as a “mass shooting” incident and drive the figures through the roof.
For example, on October 2 the Guardian listed 994″mass shooting” incidents over the past 1004 days and the list was rife with gang and street violence. It contained a September 28 drive-by shooting on Chicago’s south side and an August 9 shootout which the Detroit News described as being between drug dealers. The list also contained a January 23 fight in Boston’s Jamaica Plains neighborhood in which WCBV reported shots rang out and six were wounded. All of these instances and numerous others just like them are counted as “mass shooting” incidents right along with actual, planned “mass shootings” like the one James Holmes carried out in the Aurora movie theater in July 2012.
This is how The Guardian elevates the number of “mass shooting” incidents and it is the same method the WaPo uses to claim “there’s been no calendar week without a mass shooting during Obama’s second term.”
Follow AWR Hawkins on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.