New Research Published at Econ Journal Watch: How the U.S. Compares to Other Countries in the Rate of Public Mass Shooters

Apr 3, 2020 | Original Research

Dr. John R. Lott, Jr. and our research director, Professor Carlisle E. Moody, have published a new research paper at Econ Journal Watch for an international comparison of mass public shootings.


Adam Lankford (2016) claims that the United States accounted for 31 percent of the world’s public mass shooters over the 47 years from 1966 to 2012. After four years of extensive worldwide media coverage, Lankford—in response to our paper (Lott and Moody 2019)—finally made one of his datasets available. In doing so, he revealed that he used a definition of public mass shootings that is inconsistent with those of the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and the New York Police Department that he had claimed to be following. We find that his dataset does not even follow his own definition. He has included cases for the United States that do not fit his definition and excluded foreign cases that are consistent with his definition. His handling of data greatly exaggerates the U.S. share of public mass shooters. Using our data, we estimate the number of shooters using the NYPDdefinition that Lankford claims to use. We find that the U.S. has 1.25 percent of the world’s mass shooters. We provide a table that displays results for a variety of possible definitions, including Lankford’s now supposed definition, all of which are a fraction of the 31 percent that Lankford claims.

The paper is available here. Table 2 provides an excellent summary of our work and shows the rate of mass public shooters in different countries. Please look at the paper.

Our video on Adam Lankford’s work is available here. Other discussions of him are available here.



  1. Tom Campbell

    Good, hard hitting paper. Thank you both.

  2. Kevin Black

    Looking for reasons why Lankford refuses to share data or answer questions, his bio has some clues. “… He has also written for The New York Times, Foreign Policy, Time, Wired, The Daily Beast, New Scientist, The Mail on Sunday, Scientific American, and The Huffington Post.” Many of those publications are leftist propaganda organs, and solid data and research are not require, and if he wrote his study as sourcing for these then it’s likely he skipped data rigors.