Washington Times news article discusses the different definitions of mass shootings

11 Oct , 2017  

Bradford Richardson at the Washington Times had a long article based on an interview that he had with Dr. John Lott (words in bold were not in the original article).  The CPRC has made these points before. The article in the Washington Times is as follows:

. . . In the aftermath of the Las Vegas massacre, left-leaning media outlets have been playing fast and loose with the data on mass shootings to inflate their number and suggest that white men make up a disproportionate share of the perpetrators.

John R. Lott, founder and president of the Crime Prevention Research Center, said the left uses an overly broad definition to capture gang violence and other incidents not typically considered to be mass shootings.

“It’s two different types of shootings we’re talking about: mass public shootings and shootings that occur in a public place as part of some other crime, like gang fights,” said Mr. Lott, author of “The War on Guns: Arming Yourself Against Gun Control Lies.” “So when they want to emphasize that they’re committed by whites, they use the traditional definition of mass public shootings, like the Las Vegas attack that we just had. But when they want to make people think that this happens all the time, then they use a different definition.”

On Oct. 2, the day after the Las Vegas gunman left 58 dead and nearly 500 injured, The New York Times editorial board published a graphic purporting to show 521 mass shootings over the previous 477 days.

The newspaper of record cited the Gun Violence Archive, an increasingly influential authority on the topic that defines “mass shooting” as an incident in which four or more people are “shot and/or killed.” . . .

Because the Gun Violence Archive uses a low bar to define “mass shooting” — four or more injured or killed — it’s more likely to capture commonplace gun violence, Mr. Lott said. He said it’s disingenuous to equate those incidents with mass shootings because they have different causes and different policy solutions.

“I’m not saying that gang fights aren’t important or that we shouldn’t care about it, but there are different sets of causes and solutions to deal with those than other types of shootings,” Mr. Lott said. “Gang fights are primarily fights over drug turf.” . . .

CNN mined through the Gun Violence Archive data set and applied the definition of “mass shooting” from the Congressional Research Service. The number of shootings dropped from 273 to nine.

CNN was not the only publication to conflate the data on mass shootings.

On the morning of Oct. 2, Newsweek published an article with the headline “There’s a Mass Shooting Almost Every Day in the U.S.” Less than three hours later, an article by the same author was published with the headline “White Men Have Committed More Mass Shootings Than Any Other Group.” . . .

 

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