Mass Shootings

The Truth About Mass Public Shootings

Why do the numbers appear to be going up? Because previous shootings have been underreported.

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Adam Lanza
Adam Lanza, yearbook photo

The findings from two separate reports released in the last month—one by the FBI and the other by progressive investigative media outlet Mother Jones—have been offered up as evidence that "mass shootings" are occurring more frequently than ever. The truth, however, is a little more complicated.

To be fair, the authors of the FBI's "active shooter" report explicitly cautioned their study was not about mass shootings, although this caveat was later ignored in much of the news media's coverage of it. But a recent article in Mother Jones asserted that we have "entered a new period in which mass shootings are occurring more frequently." This report relied on the well-known list compiled by Mother Jones, which has been one of the key sources used to support the claim made in the last few years that the incidences of mass shootings have accelerated.

There are some problems with the Mother Jones list, however, when comparing it with data I've collected on mass killings. In my research on mass murder, which has resulted in four peer-reviewed academic publications and a book, I've identified more than 1,200 mass killings that have occurred in the U.S. since 1900. Of these cases, 161 were mass public shootings, which I've defined as incidents that occur in the absence of other criminal activity (e.g., robberies, drug deals, gang "turf wars," et cetera) in which a gun was used to kill four or more victims at a public location within a 24-hour period. Aside from a few minor differences, this definition is largely similar to the one ostensibly used by Mother Jones.

The first problem with the Mother Jones list, which contains 67 cases, is that it significantly underreports the incidents occurring between 1982 and 2013 that meet its definitional requirements. The data I've collected show there were 114 mass public shootings, which means the Mother Jones list missed more than 40 percent of the cases that took place in the U.S. during this 32-year period. (My analyses of the Mother Jones data include all 67 cases. However, four of these cases—the 2013 incidents involving Pedro Vargas and Dennis Clark, the 2007 shooting by Tyler Peterson, and the 2006 case involving Kyle Huff—were not included in my dataset because they were, in my judgment, "mass shootings" that mostly took place in residential settings.)

The second problem is that the underreporting in the Mother Jones list grows more severe the further back in time we go. When looking at the data by decade, we see that the Mother Jones list captured 89 percent of the 18 cases from 2010-2013, 69 percent of the 29 cases from 2000-2009, 55 percent of the 42 cases from 1990-1999, and just 32 percent of the 25 cases from 1982-1989. As I show below, the combination of these two problems has made it possible for those relying on this list to conclude that mass shootings are growing more and more frequent over time.

Why does the Mother Jones list suffer from an underreporting problem that gets worse for the earlier cases? Due to a lack of detailed information about the search methodology used to compile the list, it's difficult to say with complete certainty. The most likely reason is that the Mother Jones list relied exclusively on news reports as a source of data, and news coverage tends to be less accessible for the older cases.

In my research on mass murder, I've used the FBI's Supplementary Homicide Reports (SHR) data to anchor the search for more detailed news reports on mass killings. The SHR data has its flaws, but it is the most comprehensive homicide dataset available that reveals, among other things, when and where most mass killings (including mass public shootings) have taken place in the United States.

Mass public shootings have actually been more common than what the Mother Jones list indicates. The two datasets also yield some different conclusions regarding trends in the prevalence of mass public shootings since 1982. Whenever we look at crime trends over time, it's necessary to adjust for population growth. Because mass public shootings are, fortunately, a rare event, I've calculated the annual rate per 100 million of the U.S. population (as opposed to the rate per 100,000 that's commonly used to measure crime trends) across the 1982-2013 period for both datasets. 

As we see in the above chart, which displays annual rates based on the Mother Jones list, the data suggest the mass public shooting rate has generally increased since 2006. Indeed, seven of the 11 highest annual rates since 1982 have been within the last eight years, which would support the claim about the ever-growing incidences of mass public shootings.  

But when we look at annual rates derived from the more complete dataset above, we see that only two of the 11 highest rates have occurred within the last eight years. Instead, six of the 11 highest rates were observed during the eight-year period between 1988 and 1995. 

The claims about the recent increase in mass public shootings are valid as long as we restrict our focus to the 1996-2013 period. As rates of crime and violence began to fall in the latter half of the '90s, so, too, did those for mass public shootings. Compared to the 1996-2006 period, there has been an uptick since 2007.

But within the broader context of the 32-year period, the annual rates since 2007 have been mostly typical. The average rate per 100 million over the 1982-2013 period was 1.31. Since 2006, two years (2008 and 2012) had above-average rates, four years (2007 and 2009-2011) had rates that hovered around the average, and two years (2006 and 2013) had below-average rates. Given that the average annual rate from 2007-2013 (1.51) is nearly the same as it was for the 1982-1995 period (1.50), we've recently returned to incidence levels commonly observed during the 1980s and early 1990s.

Reducing the occurrence of mass public shootings is implicit to the debate over whether they have recently increased. Yet asking why mass public shootings have recently increased, even if only modestly since the mid-1990s, is the wrong question. Rather, what truly needs explaining is why the mass public shooting rate during the 1996-2006 period (an annual average of 1.00) was lower than at any time during the last 30 (or even 40) years.

The late-1990s and early-2000s coincided with a bustling economy, the ban on assault weapons, a rising prison population, increases in the number of police, a fading crack epidemic, and the aging of the baby boomers beyond their peak crime years. It's currently unknown whether these factors (or any others) were responsible for the decline in mass public shootings. Still, determining why the mass public shooting rate dropped, which is much easier said than done, may shed light on whether it's possible to curb this type of violence in the future.       

NEXT: Brickbat: A Few Good Men Isn't What They're Looking For

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  1. The most likely reason is that the Mother Jones list relied exclusively on news reports as a source of data, and news coverage tends to be less accessible for the older cases.

    Alternately, possibly because mass shootings trending upwards supports a narrative.

    1. Alternately, possibly because mass shootings trending upwards supports a narrative

      Mendacity in the media? That unpossible.

      1. If it’s the case, it may be ideology or may be MoJo simply needing something to investigate and needing that investigation to turn up something juicy.

      2. Mendacity?

        Even Duwe’s research shows that the latest period is higher than any other period measured.

        “the average annual rate from 2007-2013 (1.51)”

        Is he lying too?

        1. mtrueman:

          Mendacity?

          Even Duwe’s research shows that the latest period is higher than any other period measured.

          “the average annual rate from 2007-2013 (1.51)”

          Is he lying too?

          Uh, what values are you using to come to that average? Because the average for 1991-1997 is higher.

          You don’t look at data very much, do you? That’s OK. A lot of laymen are very ignorant when it comes to looking at data and drawing conclusions. They have basic understand of arithmetic, perhaps, just enough to feel over confident, but drawing informed conclusions from imperfect data is a real skill. Most people just look at data and see their own confirmation biases come through strongly, rather than letting the data tell the story. I assume you’re one of these people, too. I mean no offense, it’s just a common, cultural thing that people do.

          1. “I mean no offense, it’s just a common, cultural thing that people do.”

            No offence taken. To quote Duwe who is not liable to make the same common, cultural errors that I am (but may, all the same, be lying):

            1982-1995 period (1.50)
            1996-2006 period (1.00)
            2007-2013 period (1.51)

            You don’t like these figures? Cherry pick them away.

            1. You do understand, don’t you, that the result you’re getting is a result of the data binning, right? You could bin for 3 years, 5, years, 7. You arbitrarily chose a 14 year period for 1982-1995, an 11 year period from 1996-2006, and a 7 year period from 2007-2013, to get your results. Do you really want to bring up “cherry picking”?

              The window from 1991-1997 is seven years, just like 2007-2013, and, since they don’t overlap, they are statistically independent, given this simple model. If you want to make claims about 7 year periods, you should compare them to other 7 year periods, not 14 year and 11 year periods.

              You do understand data well enough to know that, since they’re 2007-2013 and 1991-1997 are equal time periods, you can’t really say that the most recent 7 year period “higher than any other period measured,” right?

              Listen, when you’re wrong you’re wrong. It’s best to just not reply, or concede the error. But to quibble and cherry pick bins to try to salvage some point just makes you look bad. Do you see the world based on the data, or do you see the data based on your preconceived idea of the world? Just some helpful advice.

              1. “Do you see the world based on the data, or do you see the data based on your preconceived idea of the world?”

                For the third time now, I am quoting from the article. Take it up with the author if his presentation of the data displeases you. He makes a much better audience for your learned disquisitions than I do.

                1. He says:

                  Given that the average annual rate from 2007-2013 (1.51) is nearly the same as it was for the 1982-1995 period (1.50), we’ve recently returned to incidence levels commonly observed during the 1980s and early 1990s.

                  He doesn’t say:

                  …the latest period is higher than any other period measured.

                  “Period measured” refers to a window of time in which we have data, not a window in time in which the author makes some claim.

                  1. The author saw fit to divide the period into 3. The 3rd, final and most recent division was greater than the first 2.

                    Take it up with Duwe if you have a problem with this. Maybe even an email to the editors.

                    1. But, they didn’t make the claim you made. You did.

                      Listen, again, I think the best response would be “when I said ‘period measured’, i didn’t really mean that. I meant ‘period of time that the author decided to talk about.'” That’s more respectable than pretending the author is saying what you said, and he didn’t.

                    2. “But, they didn’t make the claim you made.”

                      The claim I made was that 1.51 was greater than both 1,0 and 1.5. You are correct that Duwe didn’t make that claim. That was me. 1.51 is bigger than 1.5. If you find it disrespectful of me to point out this fact, you’ll have to do a better job than you have so far in explaining yourself. But do it quickly, the morons are coming. You’ll soon have people like Mark22 nipping at your heels.

                    3. mtrueman:

                      The claim I made was that 1.51 was greater than both 1,0 and 1.5.

                      No, the claim you made was that “Even Duwe’s research shows that the latest period is higher than any other period measured.”.

                      I’m not at all interested in the respect or disrespect of the statement. Rather, it’s falseness. “Period measured” refers to a window of time in which there is data, i.e., all periods other than those which we have no measured data. I was being generous in assuming you only meant 7 year windows, because, clearly, in general, that statement is incorrect. The spikes in the data are higher, and there are 7 year windows with higher averages.

                      Apparently, what you meant to say was that “the latest period he bins and focuses on is higher than the other periods he bins and focuses on. That’s a very different concept than “period measured”.

                      I know this is probably confusing to a layman, and I can tell because you keep saying the same thing over and over again, but that’s not really how analyzing data works; you can’t just say “this is higher than any other period measured”, and then restrict all the periods you consider to one set of data binning that the author breaks out and calls attention to. It just highlights how most people see their confirmation biases in data, instead of the story the data tells. (See below).

                    4. This is part of what I’m a libertarian. You’re a great example of someone who has some marginal intelligence, enough to consider themselves up to the task of analyzing data and forming a conclusion. But, clearly, at best, you can’t communicate your conclusions effectively, and, worse, you can’t make good conclusions based on the data. Further, you’re incapable of seeing your error and correcting yourself, even when it’s been explained multiple times, further implying that you can’t digest new information and adapt your worldview.

                      Yet, you, and people like you, are voting on the ruling class membership that ostensibly organizes society.

                      In a democracy like this, I think it’s best that people constrained themselves and the government to the simple things that are obvious, like outlawing murder and rape, rather than trying to organize the economy, or other such complicated tasks. They simply don’t have the skill set that’s up for the challenge. With a limited government, intelligent people can digest information and manage themselves, unfettered by people who can’t make good decisions. Instead, we have a system in which multiple areas of our lives are dictated based largely on the voting patterns of people who don’t know how to think.

                      I don’t mean to pick on you; it’s a common problem that a lot of people have. I mean no offense. People generally consider themselves as “smart” just by using data, even when they simply project their biases onto it.

                    5. ” Further, you’re incapable of seeing your error and correcting yourself, even when it’s been explained multiple times”

                      How is it MY error when all I am doing is quoting from the article? If anyone is in error it is the author of the article and nowhere have you suggested that’s the case. Address your objections to the appropriate audience.

                      Instead you insist on the bizarre conceit that I am responsible for how the author chooses to present the data. You do so here and you’ve done it before:

                      “You arbitrarily chose a 14 year period for 1982-1995, an 11 year period from 1996-2006, and a 7 year period from 2007-2013, to get your results.”

                      It’s not me who arbitrarily chose anything. It was the author. I am quoting from the article. So far, it seems I’m the only one here who finds the article questionable. I would have thought you might find it dubious as well, but maybe you are only willing to question Mother Jones articles.

                    6. mtrueman:

                      How is it MY error when all I am doing is quoting from the article?

                      You’re not just quoting the article: you’re citing the article as the basis of false claims that have been demonstrated as false so frequently in this thread that it’s not worth repeating.

                      Instead you insist on the bizarre conceit that I am responsible for how the author chooses to present the data.

                      No, I insist that you are responsible for any of your own conclusions that you derive from the author’s presentation of the data. That’s neither bizarre or conceited. It’s proper assignment of responsibility.

                      This the tragedy I was referring to earlier. I can explain it all over again, but I can’t make you understand. The claim “Even Duwe’s research shows that the latest period is higher than any other period measured” is yours, and it’s false, and you’re incapable of seeing it. Yet, I’m sure you insist that you’re a clever person, who can analyze data effectively, make claims about it, and make informed decisions on how to control the lives of peaceful people.

                      Unfortunately, I have to get back to the data analysis that pays the bills. I can only try to help ignorance for so long. When it’s a lost cause, I can do no more than leave it to it’s own devices. Pity.

                    7. “”Even Duwe’s research shows that the latest period is higher than any other period measured” is yours”

                      It’s not mine. It comes from the article. He divides the data into three periods and the latest period is greater than the previous two. Maybe you should read the article again. It may help you to see my point. The only conclusion I am drawing is that 1.51 is greater than 1.5. You don’t claim this is false, so I’m not sure what exactly your beef with me is.

                    8. “Period measured” refers to any time window in which we have data. Those three windows aren’t the only windows “measured”. They’re just windows he chose to talk about.

                      It’s really that simple, and if you don’t get that, you should probably refrain from analyzing data.

                    9. mtrueman:
                      “It’s not mine. It comes from the article.”

                      But earlier you said:
                      “You are correct that Duwe didn’t make that claim. That was me.”

                      So do you want to own your work, or pass it off to the author?

                      This is getting quite silly.

                    10. “This is getting quite silly.”

                      Indeed. And I am more binned against than binning.

                      The claim I made was that 1.51 was greater than 1.50. Duwe never went that far. He only wrote that 1.51 and 1.50 were “nearly the same.” If you prefer, I will retract my claim and state that 1.51 and 1.50 are nearly the same.

                    11. “They’re just windows he chose to talk about.”

                      And these are the windows I too was referring to. If I was quoting him, which I said I was, repeatedly, what windows do you think I was referring to? I’m not talking about ‘any time window,’ but the windows Duwe refer to. If I wanted to talk about any time window, I would have said so. God lord man, what’s with the obtuseness jag? Are you trying to pull my leg?

                    12. mtrueman:

                      If I wanted to talk about any time window, I would have said so.

                      When you said:
                      Even Duwe’s research shows that the latest period is higher than any other period measured.“, you did say so. “Any other period measured” means any other time window. That’s the whole point. You can quote the article all day, and refer the point back to it all day, but what the article says has never been up for disagreement. No one’s been debating those time windows and their averages, despite your attempts to deflect.

                      If you’re not going to pay attention to what you’re saying yourself, and then argue about it for a day, I wouldn’t go around calling others obtuse. It comes across as a display of projection.

                    13. Mtrueman:

                      “I was quoting him!”

                      More precisely, you were citing him, which is justifying a claim or statement by referring to another work. This may come as a shock, but you can’t actually make any claim you want to, and avoid responsibility for it by quoting someone else.

                      For example, did it not strike you as bizarre that the last seven years had a higher average than “any other period measured”, despite the fact that there are other 7 year periods with a higher average? Does something about that situation not immediately strike you as “wrong”? In fact, the claim you made insists that his research shows this, meaning that the claim can be evaluated assuming the data is good (ie, the research shows this, assuming it’s true). Questioning the data doesn’t resolve the inherent contradiction between the claim and the data.

                      I don’t mean to be obtuse, but then again, I understood all of this in the first 5 seconds, and was patiently waiting for you to catch up.

                    14. “For example, did it not strike you as bizarre that the last seven years had a higher average than “any other period measured”, despite the fact that there are other 7 year periods with a higher average? Does something about that situation not immediately strike you as “wrong”?”

                      Of course the article struck me as strange for all the reasons you mention and more besides. It’s why I wrote my first comment. And that’s why I repeatedly urged you to take up any problems you had not with me but the author. I should have thought it was obvious to anyone. How about answering the question I asked in my first post?

                    15. “And that’s why I repeatedly urged you to take up any problems you had not with me but the author.”

                      Sigh. When you claim that the author said something, or his data shows something that it clearly doesn’t, it makes no sense to take that up with the author.

                      Do you think I should right him an email that says:
                      “Hey, mtrueman says that your data shows that the last seven years had higher average murders per year, but when I look at your data, it shows other, equal time periods with higher averages than that. What’s wrong with your article, that mtrueman got such a wrong impression?”

                      I could do that. Or I could quickly arrive at the correct conclusion that mtrueman can’t digest the data and make correct claims about it. I think it’s more effective to go where the error is.

                    16. “I think it’s more effective to go where the error is.”

                      It’s not a question of error, but of how the data is presented in the article. Namely, that Duwe presented his data divided into 3 periods, the most recent of which showed the highest rate. If you’re happy with Duwe’s choice of presentation, you don’t have to be coy, just say so.

                      “that mtrueman can’t digest the data and make correct claims about it”

                      You’re mistaken about this. I understand what your take on the data is and have no disagreements on the matter. My problem is how Duwe chooses to present the data in the article. It’s Duwe who “arbitrarily chose” the periods he discusses. You attributed this choice to me. That was also incorrect.

                      You still haven’t asked the question in my original post. Do you fear it is a trick question? It’s not.

                    17. mtrueman:

                      It’s not a question of error, but of how the data is presented in the article.

                      Oh. OK. I thought you were disagreeing with me. Then we are in agreement in that his data doesn’t show that the last 7 years were higher than any other period measured. Since I was pointing out how wrong that is, I took your replies as disagreement. Glad that’s setled.

                      It’s Duwe who “arbitrarily chose” the periods he discusses. You attributed this choice to me. That was also incorrect.

                      Duwe did choose those periods arbitrarily, but to make a completely different point (see the article). He never tried to say the last 7 years were higher than any other period measured. That claim was yours, you took credit for it, and you chose to base that claim on his time period binning. That’s insufficient to establish the claim, and choosing it as such and attempting to do so is your arbitrary choice. You could have chosen any time period for your claim, regardless of what the author chose for his claims.

                      You still haven’t asked the question in my original post. Do you fear it is a trick question? It’s not.

                      Whether or not the media is mendacious? Or if Duwe is lying? I don’t think they’re trick questions. I think they’re boring conjecture.

                    18. Here, I’ll revise my email to Mr. Duwe:

                      “In your article, you bin time into a set of 14 years, a set of 11 years, and a set of 7 years, and compare them. This arbitrary binning was effective for making your points, but it lead readers such as mtrueman to make erroneous claims about the last 7 years being higher than any other period measured.

                      You see, laypeople, and people who don’t analyze data a lot, may think that, because those arbitrary spans in time cover the entire set, that it’s sufficient to make claims about all time periods based on those results. Clearly, this can’t be the case, as there are previous 7-year periods with higher averages, yet laypeople like mtrueman were led to conclude that the last 7 years were the highest period ever measured.

                      If you’re going to present data, you can’t just bin it up and reference it in a convenient fashion to make the claims you want to make. You really need to derive all possible time windows and show all the results. In fact, your paper should look like a data dump of raw information, with every possible conclusion explicitly confirmed or denied. That way, people who don’t know how to digest data and discuss it correctly will be prevented from thinking and saying erroneous things. Because, really, that’s your responsibility.”

                      I’m just glad you live up to your name and take responsibility for your own claims, like a true man.

            2. In fact, it is you who is lying, by choosing your date ranges arbitrarily to reach a specific conclusion.

              The graph is quite clear: there is no trend in the data. No amount of numerical wizardry is going to change that fact.

              1. The date ranges came straight from the article. I didn’t choose them. The author did. If you believe he is lying, I suggest you send a complaint to the editors here.

  2. Gun grabbers have been caught lying and misrepresenting the truth so many times it is incredible to me that they have any credibility at all.

    The only real correlation that can be found to gun laws and the numbers of guns in society and violent crime show that more guns in the hands of the public means less crime. That gun grabbers ignore this or lie about it and continue insisting that we be disarmed is very telling.

    1. “The only real correlation that can be found to gun laws and the numbers of guns in society and violent crime show that more guns in the hands of the public means less crime.”

      Or, at the very least, more legally owned firearms has not led to an increase in homicide or violent crime.

  3. I would think is has more to do with the 24 hour news cycle that arose with CNN. Eventually every incident, no matter how minor, becomes a major shitstorm.

    Constant repetition and saturation drives perception.

    1. That is exactly it

      The 24 news cycle creates a vacuum and God and cable news hate a vacuum

      It explains how we can be at a multi decade low in (especially) violent crime but the average Joe thinks the opposite

      I see this reinforced day to day from what people talk about

      School homicides – we average about 22 a yr for the k thru 12, which is 55 million students

      But Hollywood actors make videos commiserating about this horrible academic and how we need to do something to stop it

      About 850 kids die from poisonings in the home every year – 19 and under, 90% of which are high school kids

      This rate has TRIPLED in 30 yrs

      Most live, but there are 130,000 ER trips for same

      Ages 1 to 4 we lose about 500 kids to drowning, most in swimming pools and bathtubs

      I see these elites HANDWRINGING about awful gun violence in schools – 25 killed out of 55 million
      We don’t hear jackshit and jack has left town about the actual things we can do to reduce the poisonings and drowning that are geometrically worse

      Which gets sexy news coverage?

      1. You are right on the mark.On the other hand,polar ice is thicker and thicker yet ,we hear very little of that.

        1. “The Welsh Authorities have asked New Yorkers to stop snowmobiling over the north Atlantic – it contributes to global warming”

          1. Where did you get that? Sounds like some first rate lunacy.

              1. It is really difficult to tell the difference between warmistas and parodies of warmistas.

      2. Hi, tulip!

      3. ‘Doing something’ about school shootings has the benefit of making people vulnerable. Not only are they defenseless against the heavy hand of the state, but also against violent criminals which helps create a mindset of fear and helplessness.

        ‘Doing something’ about school shootings will create a population of sheep. Poisonings and drownings, not so much, so who gives a shit?

    2. Eventually every incident, no matter how minor, becomes a major shitstorm.

      Yep.

  4. Why did Mother Jones underreport older mass shootings? The author really overthinks the answer here. It’s simple really, they massaged the data to support their premise. In other words, they lied.

    1. Usually, this is simple observation bias rather than deliberate fraud: they just stopped analyzing the data when it fit their conclusions.

  5. my friend’s mother-in-law makes $86 every hour on the internet . She has been out of a job for five months but last month her payment was $20871 just working on the internet for a few hours. look at this now…

    ????? http://www.netjob70.com

  6. C’mon, Grant.

    One doesn’t need to be a statistician, or to do any kind of detailed number analysis, to know we have a problem in this country with mass shootings, and gun violence in general. A problem that so many other developed countries just don’t seem to have…at least not at the level we have.

    Let us know when you, or any Libertarians at all, really want to do anything about this shameful stain on our history.

    1. I dunno. Maybe we could make murder illegal. That might help. Or maybe pass laws that ban violent guns. That should prevent gun violence. Or perhaps we could put up signs that declare certain places to be gun free zones. That will keep the guns out.

      1. I used to ask my Con Law professor if the “no firearms” sticker on the doors to the law school had some magical forcefield ability that kept us all safe because clearly that’s more believable than the notion that a person intent on mass murder would be deterred by a $10,000 fine and possible 5-year sentence for gun possession on school property.

      2. “Maybe we could make murder illegal.”

        Or we could add more signage. Progs seem to think signage creates some sort of magical barrier where you can have Safe Passage Zones, Gun Free Zones, Drug Free Zones, etc… How about we force every kid in school to wear a Murder Free Zone shirt? That will obviously eliminate murder in schools.

    2. “Let us know when you… really want to do anything about this shameful stain on our history”

      Destruction of every firearm is one solution that will not happen for obvious reasons.

      Perhaps we should try to come to terms with the fact that we live in a country which has as one of its core principles an inherent right for the citizenry to possess firearms.

      I’d prefer that I and my fellow citizens don’t get slain by gun-wielding (or any other type of) criminals, but I really don’t see how to fully protect us from such violence while keeping that inherent right intact.

      1. No one reasonable wants to take that right away. Most just want some common sense limitations…but even that is a non-starter, particularly among Libertarians. I’m sure I’ll get all the STATISTICS now about how those limitations don’t do anything. But we’ll never know that.

        Anyway, thanks for a reasonable response.

        1. Jackand Ace:

          I’m sure I’ll get all the STATISTICS now about how those limitations don’t do anything. But we’ll never know that.

          I know. When in doubt, always do something. Because, never knowing if something will work is equivalent to never knowing it won’t work. And, when you have no idea, always do something.

          I love thepolitician’s syllogism. What could go wrong?

        2. No one reasonable wants to take that right away.

          NO TRUE SCOTSMAN!

          Most just want some common sense limitations…but even that is a non-starter, particularly among Libertarians.

          Because we know bullshit when we see it: the proposals people like you describe as “common sense” aren’t.

          1. It isn’t just that. Every “reasonable” restriction, besides having no basis in reality, is a reasonable “first step” in the right direction of complete and utter civilian disarmament.

            We have come to learn not to trust *any* proposal that anti-gun types put forward. If anything, we have learned that we have to undo anything that anti-gun types have already passed!

    3. Let us know when you, or any Libertarians at all, really want to do anything about this shameful stain on our history.

      OK, don’t call us, we’ll call you.

    4. One doesn’t need to be a statistician, or to do any kind of detailed number analysis

      Because math is hard!

    5. There may be a problem over the last 50 years in the increase of mass shootings. But the accessibility of guns isn’t the reason. Guns existed, and were ameliorated into society for decades/centuries, and there weren’t the type of shootings we see today. What changed? Most likely media saturation. The combination of the guns that have always been at hand, mental instabilities which have existed throughout time, and the massive increase in media. But it is the media which is the catalyst in the change. But in the end, the incident rate of mass shootings is still small, almost an outlier, so I would not support any attempts to restrict/ban guns, lock up unstable people en masse, or prohibit free exchange of ideas/concepts through the media.

      As for everyday gun violence, the majority of the violence is related to black market trades and the territorial wars fought over distribution. End prohibition and violence will decrease.

      1. Thanks for at least a reasonable response.

      2. toolkien:

        As for everyday gun violence, the majority of the violence is related to black market trades and the territorial wars fought over distribution. End prohibition and violence will decrease.

        Isn’t it a damn shame that we can’t legalize drugs in this country?

        The media will talk about gun control until they’re blue in the face, in the face of the “mass shootings” tragedies that effect 1-3 people per 100,000 million a year, yet talking about drug legalization? That’s for whackos, even though most americans favor legalizing pot, and it would do more to save lives from senseless violence than any of the gun control bills that they spend all their time getting their panties in a wad over. Then, they complain that we “can’t have a sensible conversation about gun control.”

        Well, if the sensible conversations about gun control aren’t going well, maybe talk about drug legalization, something that might actually help a lot more people? Nah, let’s just sit back, let the drug war go on, and whine that we can’t register everyone’s guns or something. That’s smart policy thinking.

        1. It isn’t just that. If you bring in heavy statistical analysis to the table, that isn’t “sensible conversation”. Probably because math is hard, and we have to do something, anything, for the childrenz, even if it makes the situation demonstably worse, and so on and so forth.

    6. Re: Jackand Ace,

      One doesn’t need to be a statistician, or to do any kind of detailed number analysis, to know we have a problem in this country with mass shootings

      Just like we don’t have to be statistician to know that we have a problem in this country with mass appeals to emotional arguments.

    7. Jack-an-ass: “One doesn’t need to be a statistician, or to do any kind of detailed number analysis”

      Facts?? Who needs them!! We all just know the answer without facts because it just FEELS right!

      1. Progtards like this only parrot this nonsense to reinforce their own identity.

    8. Most libertarians do want to do something about it.
      Make certain its easy for good people to defend themselves.

      Unfortunately the gun prohibitionists keep getting in the way.

    9. Let us know when you, or any Libertarians at all, really want to do anything about this shameful stain on our history.

      Does every comment a progressive offers consist of a feeble attempt to change the subject? Your comment is to an article taking Mother Jones to task for falsifying a trend, not the existence of mass shooting. Libertarians have offered any number of “solutions” to solutions from increasing gun ownership among the vulnerable to dismantling the welfare state. The article in your head is two threads down.

    10. Because nothing bad has ever happened in countries where private gun ownership has been stripped from the citizenry. And CERTAINLY nothing bad was ever perpetrated by the governments on the citizenry after that right was stripped.

    11. One doesn’t need to be a statistician, or to do any kind of detailed number analysis

      Yea, c’mon guys. You don’t have to do any of the investigative things that may be necessary to come to a an appropriate, thought out conclusion. You just have to know how you FEELZ about it.

    12. I read all the responses…and just like I said, let me know when Libertarians (with a couple of exceptions) really want to do anything about this problem at all. Or even maturely admit there is a problem.

      1. There is not a real problem. See above.

      2. Jackand Ace|10.28.14 @ 1:43PM|#
        “I read all the responses…and just like I said,…”

        Polly want a cracker?
        You’re a parrot and a lying piece of shit.

      3. I have the funny feeling that you aren’t going to be satisfied unless the answer is “We need more State gun control”, despite the fact that this has proven, time and time again, not to work.

        The libertarian solution is simple: recognize that this kind of thing is going to happen, no matter what laws we pass, so we should recognize that everyone has the right to keep and bear arms, to protect themselves from events like this.

        Of course, this isn’t going to “solve” mass murder, because everyone has free will to choose what they will do, regardless of what laws we pass, and because if mass murderers ever figure out that guns are actually a pretty lame method for killing people (there are more effective ways involve objects and chemicals far more common than guns), there literally isn’t much we can do, at all, to stop someone bent on murder from killing a lot of people.

        Thus, the “we need the State to come in and ban things, and make transfers illegal, laddie daddie dah” at best makes us feel good, while doing nothing to prevent mass murder, or any other murder, for that matter.

    13. Jackand Ace:

      A problem that so many other developed countries just don’t seem to have…at least not at the level we have.

      With that comment, you’re falling into the same trap discussed in the article: instead of comparing different times with different numbers of people, now you’re comparing different countries. Yes, I’m sure the Lichtenstein has many fewer accounts of gun violence in schools as the USA, since the USA has over 300 million people, and Lichtenstein has 36K.

      Comparing the entire EU as one country is a little different. In fact, mass gun shootings are such rare events that the Norwegian shooter who went crazy and killed all those children on the island recently threw the statistics off so much that, in the near term, Europe was killing more people in mass gun shootings than we were, and you had to go back several years before you had enough so that the USA was the worst again. We’re talking rare events.

      In other words, if you want to implement the European solution, do this: dissolve the federal government, and declare each state it’s own country. Then, practically all the states would have little or no gun violence in schools or with children at all.

    14. A problem that so many other developed countries just don’t seem to have…at least not at the level we have.

      The excessive gun violence in the US is almost exclusively due to young African Americans, themselves victims of decades of progressive politics.

      One doesn’t need to be a statistician, or to do any kind of detailed number analysis, to know we have a problem in this country with mass shootings, and gun violence in general.

      Well, yeah, and that kind of thinking is the cause: facts be damned, you people just go off implementing stupid policies, and when they fail you blame the people who opposed your stupid policies in the first place. That is our problem.

    15. Jackand Ace|10.28.14 @ 9:29AM|#
      “One doesn’t need to be a statistician, or to do any kind of detailed number analysis, to know we have a problem in this country with mass shootings, and gun violence in general.”

      I see the resident jackass has decided there is no need for facts regarding the issue; he just *knows* there’s a problem!
      Hint, twit: Don’t listen to the voices in your head.

  7. Hey, I’ll bite, what would you suggest we do?

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  9. There’s another angle. This guy studied public spree killings of unrelated people which were ended by an outsider, ie, not someone killing his family nor the byproduct of a robbery. He found that cutting it off at four was an artificial distinction which biased against an armed public. The majority of small public spree killers who were stopped before they hit the magic number of four were stopped by ordinary citizens. Of course Mother Jones would not want that info publicized.

    1. I was going to post something to this effect, but you had actual statistics. Nice.

      But yeah, if you want to read about shootings that are stopped by civilians, who are frequently armed, you can’t go to the mainstream media.

  10. Can you remove the image of the murderer, immediately? Publicizing the murderer’s image furthers the glorification of his legacy and deeds…

  11. Yeah, this is a great demonstration of how binning data biases the analysis.

    Basically, taking the 7 year period at the beginning catches the spike in the 2012 data, only averaging it out for 7 years, conveniently cutting off the analysis before you pick up the drop in 2006.

    Then, when you average the other time periods over longer time windows, you “filter out” the other spikes and drops in the data. The spikes in 1982, 1984, 1992-1994 get filtered out over 14 years. The spike in 1999 gets filtered out over 11 years. This isn’t a good way to analyze data.

    I don’t have the raw data, but I’m using this:
    data = [2.5, .8, 2.1, .45, .8, .8, 1.6, 1.2, .4, 3.15, 1.95, 1.9, 1.5, 1.5, .75, 1.1, 1.1, 2.55, .75, .75, .35, 1.0, 1.0, 1.0, .6, 1.4, 1.6, 1.4, 1.4, 1.4, 2.25, .9]

    If you average out every year together, the result is an average of 1.3/year. Taking seven year windows and going backwards, the results are:
    2007-2013: 1.47
    2000-2006: .77
    1993-1999: 1.48
    1986-1992: 1.41
    1982-1985: 1.46 (the leftovers, but not a seven year window)

    So, are we freaking out because 2000-2006 was a very good 7 year window for public shooting rates? Then, realize it’s a drop from the average of the other windows of 0.7 people per 100 million people. In a nation of 300 million people, this implies that 2 people more than extra died each 7 years outside of 2000-2006?

    We’re talking about noise. These are rare events. Attempts to get hysteric over 2007-2013 are just that, hysteria.

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