Sen. Chris Murphy responded to last week’s Las Vegas massacre, sparking fear when he claimed “Already this year there have been more mass shootings than days in the year.”
That was certainly a stretch at best. Following the FBI’s definition of “mass murder” and “mass public shootings” there are about four mass public shooting murders on average in the U.S. annually. Counting armed robberies, gang violence, and domestic disputes in private residences, the number is far higher: 20 to 22 annually.
When Murphy made his statement, it was the 275th day of the year. So he was exaggerating quite a bit.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Murphy would have to make some serious adjustments to the definition of mass shootings in his claim.
To come up with the figure he gave, Murphy would need to include include cases where the shooter, usually shot by police, is counted as the fourth victim, incidents where shooting sprees spanned to separate locations, and friendly fire and crossfire during police intervention. In all these instances, he’d have to include all cases where someone was merely grazed or wounded.
The Wall Street Journal reports:
The FBI defines “mass murder” as “four or more victims slain, in one event, in one location.” Starting with the FBI’s definition of four or more fatalities, the Congressional Research Service reported that from 1999 through 2013 there were an average of 20 to 22 mass shootings in the U.S. annually. In an average year, four of these would be “mass public shootings”—the kind that often get national media attention. Of the rest, about half were “familicides”—killings within a family or estranged family, usually taking place in a private residence. The other half were “attributable to an underlying criminal activity or commonplace circumstance,” such as armed robbery, gang activity, insurance fraud or romantic triangles.
The website Mass Shooting Tracker, by contrast, counted 340 mass shootings in the U.S. between New Year’s Day and last Monday—consistent with Mr. Murphy’s claim of more than one a day. The site uses a much broader definition of mass shooting: “an incident where four or more people are shot in a single shooting spree. This may include the gunman himself, or police shootings of civilians around the gunman.” Under this definition, the shootings needn’t be fatal.
The media has sensationalized gun violence to the extent that many people actually think it’s on the rise.
Uninformed Americans are surprised to learn that gun homicide has plummeted in the U.S. since the early 1990s.
The huge drop in gun violence isn’t due to less guns or tougher gun control laws. There are far more guns in the U.S. now and concealed carry laws are more common. Many experts agree that concealed carry is largely responsible for the decline in gun violence. This is common sense.
Who wants to commit gun crime, after all, when citizens can fight back?
The Wall Street Journal continues:
Since peaking in the early 1990s, gun homicide has declined by half nationwide. Overall gun crime victimization is down by three-fourths. In this same period, the American gun supply grew by 80 million, so that there is now slightly more than one gun per person in the U.S.
Scholars suggest diverse causes for the crime decline. To the extent that gun policy has made a difference, Americans in the past quarter-century have made their gun laws both stricter and more permissive. Today, unlike in 1992, there are many laws against gun possession by persons with domestic-violence records, whether misdemeanor convictions or restraining orders. Extensive and uncontradicted social-science indicates that such persons are much likelier to commit gun crimes, especially domestic ones.
Improved interstate data-sharing has facilitated laws against gun possession by prohibited persons. Tougher sentencing for criminals who use firearms in a violent crime has been an important cause of mass incarceration, and those longer sentences have helped reduce gun violence of all types.
On the other hand, unlike in 1992, right-to-carry is now the national norm. In all but a few states, adults with safety training and a background check have a legal right to carry a firearm for lawful self-defense. State preemption laws have eliminated many local anti-gun restrictions.
Although gun crime has been way down, 56% of Americans in a 2013 Pew Research survey thought gun crime was higher than 20 years earlier. Only 12% realized that such crime was lower, and fewer still realized how much lower it was. One cause of public misunderstanding is the widespread repetition of inflated figures about mass shootings.
The Pew Research survey proves that the tactic used by people like Sen. Murphy to try and deceive people into thinking gun murders are on the rise is working.
Americans really are being fooled into thinking the world is ending, and drastic measures that don’t work need to be implemented.
We must counter this false narrative at every turn. Every single lie must be exposed for what it is. Our right self-defense is at stake.