In a report released last week, the FBI claimed that between 2000 and 2013 there were 160 “active shooting incidents” in public places. Even more worrisome, these attacks increased dramatically from just a single one in 2000 to 17 in 2013 and murders from 7 to 86 over the same period. Statistically, over time they find that attacks and the number of people killed had increased at an average annual rate of 16 percent (Figures 1 and 2). With the FBI officially behind the claims, media outlets worldwide gave this extensive coverage.
While the FBI report provides graphs illustrating “active shooting incidents,” not mass shootings, the media has understandably interpreted the report as implying that mass public shootings have similarly increased. For example, the report’s introduction assures readers: “The study does not encompass all mass killings or shootings in public places and therefore is limited in its scope. Nonetheless, it was undertaken to provide clarity and data of value to both law enforcement and citizens as they seek to stop these threats and save lives during active shooter incidents..” The report discusses mass public shootings, but it never makes it clear to the readers that these types of fatalities and attacks are Actually not increasing over time. This caused great confusion. A quick look at major headlines shows how the press has read this report: . . .