A New CRS Report On Mass Shootings And The NRA Says Things Are Getting Better All The Time

Only the NRA and mad-dog sycophantic blowhards like John Lott could celebrate the latest study from the Congressional Research Service which shows that nearly 2,000 people were killed or injured in mass shootings between 1999 and 2013.  The NRA claimed that mass shootings were “rare,” despite the efforts of Mayor Bloomberg and his media allies to whip up fears about such events; Lott went right to work to make sure that we all understood that any increase in mass shootings were “statistically insignificant” over the fourteen years covered by the CRS report.

I find it a little sickening when a self-appointed bigmouth for the gun lobby dismisses the gun carnage in this country as ‘statistically insignificant.’  Because misrepresentations to the contrary, we are the only industrialized country that generates this type of crazy, homicidal behavior on a year in, year out basis, and the CRS study makes it indisputably clear that the frequency of these attacks is going up.  But before I explain how my reading of the report is at such variance with the way the report is characterized by the NRA, let’s examine the methodology and findings in detail.

          Texas Tower

Texas Tower

The FBI has always grouped mass murders into two categories: (1). ‘classic’ mass murders;  (2). ‘family’ mass murders.  The former involves a ‘mentally disordered individual’ whose victims are generally unrelated to him; the latter, often referred to as ‘familicide,’ grows out of a domestic dispute and usually involves both a partner and children.  The report highlights many analytical problems with this approach, and replaces it with a three-pronged categorization:  public, familicide and other felony shootings.  In a public shooting, at least one killing occurred in a public location whereas other felony shootings grew out of some underlying criminal activity; i.e., robbery, criminal competition, etc. Mass shootings of family-related individuals involved in criminal activity is defined as a felony event.

Of the 1,557 people killed in these three types of mass shootings, 37% were victims of familicide, 34% were victims of other felony shootings, and only 28% were mowed down in public venues.  I say ‘only’ because the NRA says the same thing in its summary of the CRS report; i.e., “only” 446 people were killed in public venues.  What the hell – that’s nothing.  The NRA then goes on to simply lie about the report when it states that “while anti-gun groups would like to portray mass shootings as being most often committed with ‘assault weapons,’ the CRS study found that between 1999 and 2013, less than 10 percent of mass shootings were committed with any firearm capable of using a detachable magazine holding more than 10 rounds.” That’s not what the report says.  It says that 27% of mass public shootings involved an ‘assault weapon,’ and since the average  number of murders in public shootings is 50% higher than the average  number of murders in either of the other two categories, it’s pretty hard to escape the possible link between the lethality of the weapon and the body count which then occurs.

Finally, as to the increase in mass shooting activity which both the NRA and mad-dog Lott are at pains to deny, since 1999 the national gun murder rate has steadily decreased by more than 50%.  The mass public shooting rate, on the other hand, spikes up and down, depending on whenever a particularly lethal event (e.g., Sandy Hook) takes place.  Over the fifteen-year period, however, the annual number of incidents has not dropped one bit and, in fact, shows a slight uptick over the final five years covered by the report.

To my mind, the most important finding in this study is that in 80% of all mass shootings, it appears that the shooter knew some or all of his victims before the event occurred.  This is in keeping with what is generally the case with homicides; i.e., it’s a personal affair.  What turns these arguments into mass murders?  The gun, nothing but the gun.

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The Dumbest Thing Ever Said About Gun Violence – 1st Of Many.

Emily Miller

Emily Miller

I’m going to start giving out an award for the dumbest comment about gun violence.  I’m not yet sure how often I’m going to select a winner and I haven’t yet figured out a prize.  In fact, I invite all the readers of this blog to take the poll following the text to send me their ideas.  In the meantime, the first candidate for our Dumb Award is Emily Miller, a so-called “opinion writer” for the Washington News.  She gets on our list of possible award-winners for her column last week about mass shootings, in which she accused the President of  exploiting the fear of mass shootings to push his gun-control agenda, and noted that mass shooting deaths in America are a “rarity,” accounting for no more than 18 deaths each year.

Where does she get such crazy numbers?  Miller claims she got them from the Congressional Research Service although her link only goes to other Washington Times stories that mention the CRS.  But there is another source for this data, namely, the FBI which publishes something called Supplementary Homicide Reports each year.  Like most crime data, the reports are several years behind, the most recent covering 2011.  So our good friends in Mike Bloomberg’s shop took the FBI data covering 2009 – 2011 and added newspaper accounts covering 2012 and what’s happened so far in 2013.   If I saw a copy of the report then so did Emily Miller.  But you don’t ever mention the name ‘Bloomberg’ in the Washington Times other than to remind your readers that he’s a big clown.  Clown or not, here’s what the Bloomberg report says.

Between January 2009 and the Navy Yard massacre last week, there have been 93 mass shootings, defined by the FBI as events in which 4 or more people were killed.  In calculating the number of victims, incidentally, the FBI did not include the shooters who turned the gun on themselves, nor did they include shooters who were killed by responding police.  I included both categories because, frankly, I don’t see how you could leave them out.  And the grand total of dead people three months short of five years?  498.  Now according to Miller, the total should be slightly less than 90.  It’s not.  It’s 498, which is more than 5 victims per mass shooting.

Of the more than 100 shooters involved in these events (in some mass shootings there were also multiple perpetrators,) there were 25 who took their own lives.  Deducting this number from the overall victim count still leaves more than 470, or more than 90 per year.  And there’s no reason to exclude the 8 mass shooters killed by police because they wouldn’t have been shot if they hadn’t committed a mass murder in the first place.  And here’s the big news: for Emily Miller and the entire NRA gang who go around touting the preposterous idea that an “armed citizenry” will protect us against gun violence, there was not a single mass shooting since 2009 that was thwarted or responded to by a civilian carrying a gun.  Not one.

One other important point needs to be mentioned about mass shootings.  Despite the NRA’s contention that “gun-free zones” (like schools) increase the possibility of shootings, the overwhelming number of mass shootings took place exactly where most gun violence occurs, in or near the home of the victim.  This is true in two-thirds of the mass shootings, and for overall gun violence the percentage is about the same.  And a common thread appears in many of these domestic tragedies; i.e., they happened during holiday celebrations – Thanksgiving, Christmas – which is when lots of people are gathered in the same place.

Know what?  I really wish that Emily Miller wasn’t such an idiot.  I wish her numbers were correct.  If we only suffered 18 mass shooting deaths each year that would probably mean the overall number of deaths from shootings would also be substantially lower than the 11,000 that now occur.   Now

take the poll.