Mass Shootings = Mass Hysteria? The Numbers

Hello, Freedom Prepper friends! Long time, no post here. It’s good to be back, except that these are very sad circumstances. Over the weekend, just like many of you, Scott and I discussed the tragic events from El Paso and Dayton. As of my last checking, on the morning that I wrote this up, twenty-nine people are dead and God knows how many are wounded. Terrible. At FP, we’re two things: we’re most strongly pro-Second Amendment, and we’re also anti unlawful violence. As are you, dear readers. We’re also into the truth about these matters.

And, I have to say at this point, that the truth is missing (or certainly appears to be missing) from both of these shooting stories. There’s no doubt it happened and that innocent people were killed. But, there’s something behind it. Something is off. Badly off – like poor scripting. As with most of these shootings, there remain various inconsistencies and unanswered questions. With the Dayton story, I have strong reason to doubt the official narrative. If fact, I almost always doubt the official version of most stories, as told by the government and the media. You should too. But, today, we’re here to discuss the shooting numbers only.

Scott posed the following to me on Sunday, the Fourth: “Anyway they are reporting that [Dayton] is the 250th mass shooting in the US, would you be interested in writing an article about that statistic, spelling out the truths from the non-truths, to see what the real number is versus the media driven number?”

Yes, of course, I would! But, again, I’m only working with the reported stats. I just finished a column for another publication about some ridiculous improbabilities with the Dayton shooter. All of those aside, was he the 250th mass shooter in America in 2019? The answer is the old lawyer’s favorite: “It depends.”

Here’s a sample headline, from USA Today: 

El Paso, Dayton make 251 mass shootings in the US in 216 days, more shootings than days in the year

They’re counting El Paso as the 250th and Dayton as 251st. Close enough. Where’d they get the numbers? It’s right there in the story: 

“As gunfire ripped through America in an unprecedented 24 hours, a bleak milestone in a nation pocked by gun violence was marked: There have been 251 mass shootings in 2019, according to the Gun Violence Archive.”

The Gun Violence Archive is an online database, in operation for several years. More on that in a moment.

The New York Post reports a drastically lower number of shootings: Suspect killed after mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio.

“That makes Sunday’s shooting in Dayton the 22nd mass killed in the U.S. this year. The first 20 mass killings in the U.S. in 2019 claimed 96 lives.”

Why the discrepancy? It’s because there is no definition of what is or is not a “mass shooting.” Says the Rand Corporation:

“There is no standard definition of what constitutes a mass shooting. Media outlets, academic researchers, and law enforcement agencies frequently use different definitions when discussing mass shootings, leading to different assessments of how frequently mass shootings occur and whether they are more common now than they were a decade or two ago.”

Different organizations either count it differently or else they merely present raw numbers and leave designation to the reader or researcher, as illustrated by this graph:


From “7” to “371.” It’s a wild variation, but not by itself nefarious. The Gun Violence Archive falls towards the upper end of the reporting.

Explore the Gun Violence Archive (GVA).

They’ve already surpassed 250 or 251:


Their incident location map:


Legacy Food Storage

Both from the map and from the first number in the GVA chart of 2019, one might suspect a “liberal” slant. I do not. Pay attention to exactly what is reported. These are mere numbers. And, they start to make sense in context. 33,206 incidents only resulted in 8,787 deaths and 17,463 injuries. The death toll is on par with an “average” American year. The total number of people shot is 26,250 (out of 33,206). In other words, in 79% of gun incidents, at least one person is shot. And, to their credit, they try to break down how many of those shootings involved defensive and accidental discharges. How those factor into the fatalities and injuries, we don’t quite know. We are also left in the dark about the number of suicides.

As for the mass shootings, they account (as counted by GVA) for only 1% of shootings involving death or injuries and only .7% of total incidents. Any unwarranted death is one too many. However, by these stats, the “mass” effect is statistically marginal, at least. In fact, it tends strongly towards being an outlier factor (generally unrepresentative).

GVA unapologetically explains the methodology behind their counts. They claim to have no bias – and, I believe them. Rather, in their own words:

“What GVA considers Gun Violence…and why

Our definition of gun violence is intended to be fully inclusionary of disparate elements of gun related incidents…in that, all types of shootings are included, whether OIS, accidental, children shooting themselves, murders, armed robberies, familicide, mass shootings, DGU, Home Invasions, drivebys and everything else. We derive our definitions from CDC, FBI, NIH, and other organizations who have established standards.

Only by being totally inclusionary in our definitions is our data accurate, allowing the researcher to decide which parts of the complete dataset they need for their work. Our goal is to provide a complete picture of impact. Users then glean what they need from the whole. We intentionally have no GVA POV on the subject… but put in more real terms, GVA is against gun violence, not guns or gun owners and in that we strive to provide an unbiased, complete view of the subject.”

That last paragraph is important. GVA leaves the labeling to researchers and reporters. For their part, many members of the US media, simply grab the sensational “mass shooting” tally of 250+ and run with it. How does GVA consider whether a shooting is “mass?” Also explained by their own plain words:

Why are GVA Mass Shooting numbers higher than some other sources?

GVA uses a purely statistical threshold to define mass shooting based ONLY on the numeric value of 4 or more shot or killed, not including the shooter. GVA does not parse the definition to remove any subcategory of shooting. To that end we don’t exclude, set apart, caveat, or differentiate victims based upon the circumstances in which they were shot. GVA believes that equal importance is given to the counting of those injured as well as killed in a mass shooting incident.

The FBI does not define Mass Shooting in any form. They do define Mass Killing but that includes all forms of weapon, not just guns.

In that, the criteria are simple…if four or more people are shot or killed in a single incident, not involving the shooter, that incident is categorized as a mass shooting based purely on that numerical threshold.”

Four or more killed, not including the shooter. Simple. And, this would allow for the inclusion of many “ordinary” street crimes – a typical weekend in Chicago might contribute several “mass shootings.” Multiple attacker defensive scenarios would also be included. It’s conceivable that even a strange accident could make for a tally mark. In total, by their standard, and as of the time I grabbed a shot of the graph, there were at least 1,020 fatalities attributable to mass shootings – an order of magnitude above the 96 reported by the New York Post. The nature of statistics.

Again, I do not fault GVA – at all. And, it’s kind of hard to blame media outlets for going with what are plausibly accurate figures. What I have a problem with – beyond the predictable calls for “gun control” from the career political idiots – is the consistent lack of counterbalance. That’s how I’ll round this one out – a subject I’ve covered before, here, at my website, and in my weekly columns for the Piedmont Chronicles. Other, more comprehensive numbers are also available, which paint a much different picture about gun violence in the US than that splattered by the pols and the talking heads.

Some numbers I compiled for FP and my site, a year and a half ago: for 2014 (not such a distant reporting period):

“With the highest gun ownership per capita in the world – by far – the US is only number 111 (of around 200 nations) in per capita murders. The left’s assertion that over-armed America is the murder capital of the world is a ridiculous lie.

Gun murders and deaths, including those related to rifles (including “assault-style” rifles) are but a near-microscopic fraction of total “unnatural” or “preventable” deaths in the US. From 2014:

248 people killed with rifles (all types including … assault rifles);

435 people killed with baseball bats and hammers;

660 people killed with punches and kicks;

8,124 people killed with guns of all kinds (offset by 1,000,000+ lives saved by all guns);

14,249 murders of/by all weapons sources (and unarmed murders);

32,744 killed by automobiles;

Approximately 200,000 killed by doctors and medical professionals;

Approximately 365,000 killed by obesity and fat-related causes;

652,639 killed by “legal” abortions.”

It occurred to me that the total gun deaths from 2014 are approximately the same as those killed during the first seven months of 2019 (as reported by GVA). Taking the GVA stats for granted, and running a mild regression, the approximate total of gun deaths to be expected for all of 2019 is about 15,000. That seems a little high, but not so far outside the scope of possibility. I’ll use it for a direct comparison. (note that in 2014, gun murders were only about 59% of total murders – think poison, fire, strangulation, etc.).

A comparison of what? As I mentioned, there’s a consistent lack of counterbalance in the gun reporting at large. “15,000” lives lost to guns. Okay, but how many do the guns save each year? Yes, guns save lives. The CDC said so (in a covered-up report). 2.5 MILLION lives are saved each year in America by firearms. In other words, in America, you are 167 times more likely to see a life preserved with a gun than to see one taken! (2,500,000/15,000).

How come there are so many? Not all defensive gun uses of “DGUs” involve the firing or even the display of a gun. In many cases, just the presence of the gun, known only to a would-be victim, imparts enough assertiveness in that victim to scare away a would-be criminal. They look for easy targets, not people who act like they can handle an attack. It’s actually a good thing for everyone – the criminals included. Maybe some of them reflect and change their ways without doing any real harm.

You just never get those stats from the media, the Democrats, or even from Trump. But, it’s real. Gary Kleck and John Lott have been reporting similar numbers for years – to the extreme skepticism of the math-challenged left. But, even they underreported the benefits. The media still won’t report them.

In summation: the number of “mass shootings” each year is a matter of subjective speculation. Regardless of how counted, it is a terrible problem. However, in the great scheme of things, these terrible events are statistically inconsequential. They are NOT a reason to shed any more gun rights. We most certainly need to make changes – just not to the Second Amendment nor to our carry habits. Mass shootings need not equal mass hysteria.

Okay, the final, final word, I reserve for the esteemed Daisy Luther, prepper queen extraordinaire. Given that, all accountings aside, these events are deadly serious if you find yourself in one, please consider her advice on Surviving a Mass Shooting. When it hits the fan, the numbers don’t matter. Thank you, Daisy.

And, thank you all, dear Preppers of Freedom! Maybe it won’t be quite so long before we speak again. Hopefully on a happier subject too. As you were: Always Ready!


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