The Corner


Periodic Reminder: We Don’t Have Hundreds of Mass Shootings Each Year

For the sixth anniversary of Sandy Hook yesterday, Vox published one of its routine graph-intensive anti-gun pieces. I addressed the general thrust of this kind of thing back in 2015 — not that they bothered to read to the end before “responding” — but it’s worth specifically refuting the new headline claim that there have been “1,917 mass shootings” in the past six years.

“Mass shooting” is a tricky term. It’s typically used to refer to indiscriminate massacres in public places, and even if you start with that concept there are some variables to contend with — how many dead or wounded there have to be, etc. But the Gun Violence Archive, on which Vox relies, interprets the term literally and in the broadest possible way: Any incident anywhere, including a gang fight, in which four or more people are wounded is a “mass shooting.”

Vox gives the game up with the sentence “So far in 2018, 366 people have been killed and 1313 wounded in 331 mass shootings.” So the average death count of a “mass shooting” is 1.1?

Other counts vary quite a bit, especially depending on whether they include domestic killings or only public ones. But even the liberal magazine Mother Jones, which requires three fatalities in a public place and excludes gang violence, puts the number at 45 since 2013. That’s bad enough; there’s no need to exaggerate the problem with ridiculous definition games.