Skip to comments.Mass Shootings Aren’t On the Rise
Posted on 06/12/2014 9:44:31 AM PDT by holymoly
It's only natural, faced with atrocities like those that took place in Aurora or Sandy Hook or Isla Vista, to sink into a "What the hell is wrong with the world?" attitude. And based on the conversations that often follow these tragedies, it would be easy to think that life in the United States is as dangerous as ever, that the country is an increasingly violent, brutal place. Luckily, the statistics tell a different story.
James Alan Fox, a criminologist at Northeastern University and frequent commentator on criminal justice issues, has kept a close eye on the numbers, tracking mass-shooting incidents with four or more fatalities between 1976 and 2012 the most recent year for which FBI data are available. Data he provided Science of Us produced the following graph:
It's clear that there is no major upward trend. And slicing the data differently doesn't make a difference Fox said that since homicides are on the downswing in general, the overall shape of the graph wouldn't change much if you changed the definition of a mass shooting to, say, three victims or more. There isn't even any upswing in the number of school shooting victims, at least based on the Department of Education's own official statistics (PDF).
Why, then, is there such a powerful feeling that things are getting worse? Media coverage plays a big role. It's almost hard to believe today, but there was a time in the not too distant past when people in New York might not even hear about a school shooting that happened across the country. Today, every incident immediately explodes onto the national stage and is then amplified a millionfold by social media. It's a visceral example of the availability heuristic the easier it is for us to think of a certain type of event (whether a school shooting or a plane crash), the higher we rate its probability. But this is an illusion; just because it's easier than it ever has been to think of an example of a shooting doesn't mean these events are more likely than they were in the past.
All that said, the United States remains a very dangerous place by the standards of other developed countries (PDF), and little progress is being made on gun control, mental health, and other factors that contribute to the nation's higher-than-it-should-be homicide rate. But overall, things aren't getting worse by the year. To paraphrase Bill Clinton, trend lines are more important than headlines or tweets or Facebook posts.
[Update: Owing to an editing error on my part, the graph we originally posted for this story was slightly off, and indicated higher numbers of incidents and victims than the data shows. The old, incorrect graph can still be viewed here, and an XLS sheet of Fox's data can be downloaded here.]
An unproven and undocumented assumption.
Gun control has little if any impact on crime statistics, except that it restricts law abiding citizen's ability to defend themselves.
There is only one major factor affecting crime stats; The available number criminals in a given area. Chicago, Detroit, Newark and others seem to have bumper crops of criminals to drive crime stats.
And if you take the total numbers from all those mass shootings the media love, they STILL pale in comparison to what happens in Chicago/Detroit/Atlanta/LA.....
Wait, are we counting “law enforcement” initiated mass shootings or not?
but en masse stupidity is though . .
Interesting study showing that mass murder committed by means other than guns receives MUCH less media coverage that “mass shootings.”
20 people murdered by arson doesn’t support the ideological push for banning guns. In fact, since it shows that mass murder doesn’t require guns, it actually works against the ideology.
So media coverage per victim is MUCH lower for non-gun mass murders.
Note: Study is almost 20 years old. I suspect the disproportion in coverage it shows has only gotten more extreme.