Politifact’s continued biased and flawed evaluations about gun control: France had a higher casualty rate in one year than the entire 8 years of Barack Obama

Mar 12, 2018 | Featured

Politifact’s Jon Greenberg claims: “NRA’s Loesch cherry-picks terrorism deaths in France to argue against assault weapon ban.”    They rate the claim as “mostly false.”  On ABC News’ This Week Dana Loesch had this to say:

Loesch: “France had a higher casualty rate in one year than the entire two administrations of Barack Obama.  And they’re a fifth of our population.”

Loesch was responding to the obviously false claim by George Stephanopoulos: “We are the only country that has wide access to these kind of weapons and no one else has the frequency or the intensity of these kind of mass shootings…”  But Politifact didn’t address Stephanopoulos false claim.  Politifact’s analysis is given here:

The NRA press office told us Loesch drew from an analysis by the Crime Prevention Research Center, a group that does research in support of policies favored by gun rights advocates. While Loesch didn’t specify the year, that article compared deaths and injuries in “mass public shootings” in France in 2015 with casualties from similar events in the United States between 2009 and 2016.

In 2015, France had 150 deaths and 382 injured, for a total of 532.

On the American side, between 2009 and 2016, there were 264 deaths, 263 injured for a total of 527.

As many will remember, 2015 was a horrific year of terrorist attacks in France. In January, two men who claim allegiance to Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula opened fire in the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. The death toll rose even higherwith a series of attacks on Nov. 13 by a well-organized Islamic State cell in and around the Bataclan Theater in Paris. A total of 132 people died.

But 2015 was an aberration for France. . . .

She could also have said that casualties from mass public shootings in France, a country with one fifth our population, had more casualties from mass public shootings during the US over the entire eight years of the Obama administration.  When the numbers would be put in per capita terms and you include the additional mass public shootings in other years, the casualty rate for France is more than five times the rate in the US from 2009 through January 2017.  So much for dismissing the results in France as being an aberration.  Thus, the conclusion is that the numbers here are correct, but Politifact dismisses these numbers because:

Criminologists and terrorism experts agree that there are significant differences between mass shootings like the one at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida and the Bataclan attacks.

We used the traditional FBI definition of mass public shootings and all the cases in France clearly meet that definition.  There are several parts to this definition.

  1. The official FBI definition of mass public shootings excludes “shootings that resulted from gang or drug violence” or that occurred in the commission of another crime such as robbery.
  2. The FBI also includes only shootings in “public places” such as: commercial areas (malls, stores and other businesses); schools and colleges; open spaces; government properties (including military bases and civilian offices); houses of worship; and healthcare facilities.
  3. From the early 1980s to 2013, the original FBI definition of “mass killings” had been “four or more victims slain, in one event, in one location,” and the offender is not included in the victim count (CRS, July 30, 2015).  In 2013, the definition was changed to “three or more killings.”  Because of that academics such as James Alan Fox have also used and continue to use this definition of four or more killed for looking at “mass shootings.”  See also studies years ago such as Grant Duwe, Tom Kovandzic, and Carl Moody, “The Impact of Right-to-Carry Concealed Firearm Laws on Mass Public Shootings,” Homicide Studies, Nov. 1, 2002.  Even groups such as Bloomberg’s Everytown have recently used the four or more definition.  But whatever the political motivations for reducing the FBI number to “three or more,” most academic have continued to use the four or more definition.  In any case, this is one part of the definition is least relevant to counting those cases.

The bottom line is that Politifact never mentions that our research uses the traditional FBI definition of mass public shootings.  Given that the numbers are correct for the traditional FBI definition, if Politifact wants to disagree, it and the liberal experts that Greenberg seems to always talk to should explain why the traditional FBI definition was wrong.  Instead, Politifact just ignores the whole question.

Disappointingly, Mr. Greenberg appears to systematically approach only pro-gun control experts to evaluate these claims.  In addition, Greenberg didn’t even contact the CPRC in his critique of our work.  While Greenberg identifies the CPRC as “a group that does research in support of policies favored by gun rights advocates,” no such identifications were applied to the other experts that he interviewed.




  1. Tom Campbell

    “The NRA press office told us Loesch drew from an analysis by the Crime Prevention Research Center, a group that does research in support of policies favored by gun rights advocates. ”

    Last time I looked, CPRC doesn’t do research “in support of policies” of anyone. They run the numbers and report on where the numbers lead.

  2. Phil Kline

    Whether 2015 was an aberration for France or not, those people are still dead, and extreme French gun control didn’t save them, so the implied point that “only America has all these guns and only America has people killed in mass killings” is obviously false.
    The racists on the Left always compare the USA only to lily-white nations with very different demographics than we have, using euphemisms like “of the developed nations” and excluding the s-hole countries because, well, the Left has low expectations for countries filled with blacks or Mexicans, so it’s not fair to compare American murder rates with Mexico…apparently. Half of our murder rate is caused by a population that other “developed” nations just don’t have in the same abundance; whatever the root causes for that demographic fact, it matters.
    Second, you’re not “safe” in France or England or Germany if the only reason you’re not attacked and killed is the lack of motivation of the criminal class. France in 2015 proved resoundingly that if the bad guys want to kill a lot of people, “gun free zones” make that much easier.