A new report from the Crime Prevention Research Center lays waste to the claim that America is the leader of mass shootings taking to task a paper released by Dr. Adam Lankford in 2016 which concludes that the United States is responsible for 31% of mass shootings in the world.
In an article at the New York Post, John Lott, author of the report, gives telling information about statistics leading to Lankford’s findings:
Lankford’s claim received coverage in hundreds of news stories all over the world. It still gets regular coverage. Purporting to cover all mass public shootings around the world from 1966 to 2012, Lankford claimed that the United States had 31 percent of public mass shooters despite having less than 5 percent of the population.
But this isn’t nearly correct. The whole episode should provide a cautionary tale of academic malpractice and how evidence is often cherry-picked and not questioned when it fits preconceived ideas.
Lankford’s study reported that over the 47 years there were 90 public mass shooters in the United States and 202 in the rest of world. Lankford hasn’t released his list of shootings or even the number of cases by country or year. We and others, both in academia and the media, have asked Lankford for his list, only to be declined. He has also declined to provide lists of the news sources and languages he used to compile his list of cases.
These omissions are important because Lankford’s entire conclusion would fall apart if he undercounted foreign cases due to lack of news coverage and language barriers.
Lankford’s paper takes data spanning a 47 year period from 1966 – 2012 and purports that there were 90 mass shooters in state-side and only 202 outside of the US. Yet Lott reveals telling details which were excluded:
Lankford’s data grossly undercount foreign attacks. We found 1,423 attacks outside the United States. Looking at just a third of the time Lankford studied, we still found 15 times as many shooters.
Even when we use coding choices that are most charitable to Lankford, such as excluding any cases of insurgencies or battles over territory, his estimate of the US share of shooters falls from 31 percent to 1.43 percent. It also accounts for 2.1 percent of murders, and 2.88 percent of their attacks. All these are much less than the United States’ 4.6 percent share of the population.
Of the 86 countries where we have identified mass public shootings, the US ranks 56th per capita in its rate of attacks and 61st in mass public shooting murder rate. Norway, Finland, Switzerland and Russia all have at least 45 percent higher rates of murder from mass public shootings than the United States.
When Lankford’s data is revised, the relationship between gun ownership rates and mass public shooters disappears.
Lankford’s paper was received with giddy excitement by the majority of the MSM which published headline after headline without questioning his dataset since it provided a much-needed piece of the puzzle to further push a gun control agenda. This lack of media reporting on this topic could assist in falsely attributing to the United States more than its share of gun crime.
Ironically, the MSMs lack of reporting prevents many from seeing the truth behind gun ownership: guns save lives when in the hands of responsible gun owners. When there are mass shootings and crimes prevented by gun owners, the majority of the population would never know since the media ignores these instances almost entirely.
Read the full report from the Crime Prevention Research Center here.
Read the full New York Post article by John Latt and Michael Weisser here.