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 Uncomfortable statistics that don’t fit the media narrative about mass shootings in United States

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PostSubject: Uncomfortable statistics that don’t fit the media narrative about mass shootings in United States   Tue Feb 27, 2018 9:52 pm

While the news about mass shootings is always heartbreaking, it is easy to lose sight of just how uncommon these horrific atrocities are in the United States.

Recently, gun statistics expert John Lott Jr. explained that mass shootings in the U.S. must be corrected for its population size before one can do an international comparison of their frequency. When such basic statistical calculations are made, the U.S. drops from the nation with the ‘most mass shootings in the world’ to the twelfth highest.

Lest anyone think that Lott’s research is “discredited,” a popular epithet currently being used  to cast aside inconvenient facts, his research largely tracks with statistics taken from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which in 2014 ranked the U.S. sixth in the world in mass shooting frequency.
Lott’s research further shows that the U.S. is eleventh in the world in terms of death rate from mass shootings per year. (Bear in mind European nations tend to be heavily regulated for private firearms ownership.)

Although it is a socially agreeable thing to say that ‘even one tragedy is too many,’ we should always bear in mind the scale or frequency of the social phenomenon under investigation, especially when we are considering sweeping public policies in response. Public policies always involve trade-offs, whether in terms of efficiency, cost, or individual rights.
When we conduct a basic calculation of the frequency of mass shooters in the United States, the results are striking. There are about 300 million firearms in the U.S., 75 million gun owners, and about 3-5 deadly mass shooters each year. That means 0.000006% of gun owners each year are mass shooters.
In addition, FBI Crime Statistics show that all rifles combined — “assault rifles,” hunting rifles, all rifles — account for 250 firearms homicides per year. That is fewer than 2% of all homicides each year. By comparison, handguns account for nine times as many murders as all other firearms combined.

Let’s also consider that more than twice as many people are murdered by people with their hands and feet than by rifles or shotguns each year, according to FBI Crime Statistics. Blunt objects kill far more than either, as well. Knives kill over six times as many people as either rifles or shotguns. Yet, no one is proposing a ban on knives.
So, how rare are mass shootings in the United States? As a report by Time magazine showed, based on Mother Jones research, 722 people were killed and 1,177 people were killed in mass shootings between 1982 up to and including 2017.
These data are based on 91 mass shooting incidents over the courts of 35 years, an average of 2.53 incidents per year, and are defined as a public shooting incident where “at least three people were killed, not including the gunman.”
If we use death statistics from the Centers for Disease Control for the years 1999-2014, we find several uncommon causes of death that are more frequent than deaths from mass shootings. (Although several are more frequent than all 35 years of mass shootings combined, the total for the same 15 years of CDC statistics are 345 deaths from mass shootings.)
Based on CDC statistics, the following causes of death are more frequent than mass shootings.

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Uncomfortable statistics that don’t fit the media narrative about mass shootings in United States

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