On the heels of the mass shooting in Orlando, Florida early Sunday morning, the media reports are coming out again of there being hundreds of mass shootings a year in America. For example, we have this headline at Vox: “After Sandy Hook we said never again. And then we let 998 mass shootings happen.” But, the truth is that the number of mass shootings in America is much, much less.
That 998 number from Vox amounts to about 23 mass shootings a month — a number that seems ridiculous. Indeed, it is ridiculous. At least, the Vox article — a few paragraphs in and after a mass shootings map based on the inflated numbers — does mention that under the traditional means of defining mass shootings, instead of a new inflationary method, there are a lot less mass shootings in America. Other news sources won’t even throw in this qualification. Instead, they will just run with the big and scary numbers.
The week after the December 2015 mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, I addressed inflated mass shootings numbers in my article “Don’t Believe the Hype About Gun Shootings in the US.” I wrote:
Mark Follman, the national affairs editor at Mother Jones, writes in a Thursday New York Times op-ed that so far this year there have been four mass shootings, not the 355 claimed in the Washington Post or similar numbers asserted elsewhere in the media. The inflated numbers many media report, Follman explains, are created by broadening the definition of mass shooting far beyond the historical categorization focused on the indiscriminate-killing-motivated murder of four or more people in a public venue that Follman and his Mother Jones colleagues employ.
In the once-again-timely article I also briefly address four additional matters that are important to keep in mind when you see people in the media and politics spreading “fear-building messages” related to mass shootings. You can read the complete article here.
Reprinted with permission from the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.