Phoenix. Summerton. Chattanooga. Philadelphia. You may have seen these cities’ names sprayed across the morning headlines as the sites of weekend “mass shootings,” as the media makes an all-out effort to push the Biden administration’s gun control agenda.
The activist media are pushing these incidents as a “string of shootings left at least 15 people dead and more than 60 others wounded in eight states this weekend,” as NPR put it. The public-funded news source notes only the mass shootings last month in Buffalo, N.Y., which was carried out by an apparently racist 18-year-old suspect who described himself as an “mild-moderate authoritarian leftist,” and the deadly school mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas.
The media’s implication is clear: There is a bright red line that can be drawn between last month’s “mass shootings” and the gun violence that broke out this weekend — as it does on many weekends in large U.S. cities.
But there are a number of problematic facts about the weekend shootings. There are few publicly identified suspects, and thus, it is difficult to rule out if the shootings were gang-related or domestic violence-related. In addition, not all of the events fall into “mass shootings” under the most technical stipulations, since the most stringent databases that follow historical standards qualify that there must be ‘3 or more’ or ‘4 or more’ people killed (Mother Jones and The Violence Project, respectively).
As the media’s ‘mission creep’ has expanded in concert with the Democratic Party’s gun control agenda, so has the definitional inflation. Al Jazeera Labs has put together a useful chart to keep these definitions straight. The number of reported “mass shootings” in the U.S. can thus vary dramatically. In 2021, for example, there were either 6 mass shootings or 818 mass shootings, depending on the definition.
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A brief review of the known facts about the “mass shootings” reported for this weekend demonstrates this definitional divergence (in data analysis, determining if a case qualifies as an event is known as ‘coding’). In Phoenix, there was one known fatality, but nine people were taken to the hospital with gunshot wounds. It would thus not qualify under the strict definitions.
In Summerton, South Carolina, eight people were shot, and one was killed, at a Saturday night graduation party. The police characterized the assault as a drive-by shooting that was likely a “gang-related incident.” It would also fail to qualify for multiple reasons.
In Chattanooga, there were three killed and 14 injured in gunfire at a nightclub in an attack carried out by “multiple shooters.” The shooting incident seems to bear the hallmarks of gang-related violence, therefore, it may not fit the bill as “indiscriminate.”
In Philadelphia, a city with strict gun control laws and a history of rampant gun violence, a street brawl turned into an exchange of gunfire that killed three people and injured twelve others. The police commissioner stated he did not know if the gunfire exchanged was “between a group of individuals, or if this was tied to another group or affiliation.” It bears the hallmarks of gang-related violence; but in any event, does not appear to fit the bill as “indiscriminate.”
The bottom line is that every one of these weekend attacks would technically fail to meet the requirements as a “mass shooting” under the strict definitions. Nonetheless, public news sources like NPR continue to hype statistics such as the U.S. has “seen at least 246 mass shootings,” according to the Gun Violence Archive (definition above as “4 or more killed or injured” that could be “anywhere” for “any” reason), without providing context.
The U.S. media has historically ignored gang-related violence and domestic violence incidents for the simple reason that they don’t appear to support the case for gun control. In a nation of 393 million guns and 150 million law-abiding citizens with access to firearms, it is difficult to persuade people that such violence is the fault of gun owners, and therefore, people should be deprived of the means to defend themselves from well-armed criminals.
Thus, the gun control push has tended to be driven by high-profile, indiscriminate shooting events at public places. Lost amid the top headlines of Buffalo and Uvalde were other “mass shootings” with inconvenient narratives for those pushing gun control.
There was the NYC Subway shooting suspect Frank Robert James, who opened fire on unsuspecting passengers while at a Brooklyn station. He is an African-American male who had been on the FBI’s terror watch list until 2019. There was the the Laguna Woods church shooting, which was carried out by a Chinese man loyal to the Chinese Communist Party who was angry about Taiwanese separatists. There was a mass murder carried out by escaped fugitive Gonzalo Lopez, a convicted murderer, who killed a family of five and stole their white pickup truck from a weekend getaway cabin before he was hunted down and fatally shot by police. There was the Tulsa hospital shooting carried out by an African-American male against a physician, which killed another doctor, a receptionist and a patient.
This is not exactly the scourge of violence driven by “white supremacy” that the media has constantly warned Americans about. Indeed, crime statistics estimate that nearly three-quarters of “mass shootings” are carried out by African-American males. It appears that only one of the recent high-profile mass shootings was carried out by a “white male,” and that was a self-described “authoritarian leftist,” as noted above.
Another statistical anomaly about the recent “mass shootings” is that a number of them were committed with AR-platform rifles: the Buffalo mass shooting, the Uvalde shootings, the Texas fugitive shooting, and the Tulsa hospital shootings being among the most prominent. Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun control advocacy group, reports only 16 percent of mass shootings were carried out with AR-style rifles from 2009-2022.
It is an odd coincidence to emerge amid an outbreak of “mass shootings” (and misleadingly categorized shootings) that culminated in President Biden announcing an initiative to bring back the “Assault Weapons Ban,” particularly since the effects of that ban are dubious and the FBI reports that only a minority of gun homicides are committed with any type of rifle (indeed, far fewer than knife homicides or even ‘hands and feet’).
The Assault Weapons Ban was passed in 1994 and expired in 2004. It did not appear to have a major impact on mass shooting incidents.
This is not to argue that the status quo is acceptable. There is an uptick in verifiable “mass shootings” since 2012. The Uvalde, Texas elementary school shooting that killed 19 children and two teachers is the most infamous. While the authoritarian left has fixated on the 18-year-old suspect’s ability to obtain firearms, there are a number of serious questions about the school’s security and the police’s feckless response.
The mass shooting incidents that appear to shock the public conscience are the ones where the victims are known to be disarmed, such as in “gun-free zones” like schools. If you use the criteria that are used by gun violence experts, there have been thirteen deadly mass shootings in the United States since 1966. That doesn’t make the events any less tragic, but it does suggest that the solution does not lie in depriving law-abiding gun owners of personal defense firearms, and rather in identifying mental illness and young persons prone to mass violence.
Yet there is one solution that appears to be a non-starter with gun control advocates: Arming teachers or school resource officers. As gun violence expert John Lott Jr. has pointed out in 2019 research, “There has yet to be a single case of someone being wounded or killed from a shooting, let alone a mass public shooting, between 6 AM and midnight at a school that lets teachers carry guns.”
The mainstream media thus appears to be advocating a non-solution with its push to deprive law-abiding gun owners of their Second Amendment right to bear arms. Instead of making more American citizens defenseless against armed attackers, the solution may be to send the message to would-be mass murderers that anyone who intends to carry out a shooting rampage against innocent children can expect to immediately be met with deadly force.
OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion.