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Researchers Assail Everytown and FBI Shootings Reports

Friday, October 10, 2014

The “Everytown” anti-gun group’s Analysis of Recent Mass Shootings is “riddled with errors,” and the FBI’s Study of Active Shooter Incidents is “flawed,” according to researchers at the Crime Prevention Research Center (CPRC).  CPRC is led by noted gun control researcher and former chief economist with the United States Sentencing Commission, John R. Lott, Jr.

In The Myths About Mass Public Shootings (full report can be found here), CPRC concludes that contrary to Everytown’s claim, mass public shootings have not increased significantly in recent years.  Everytown, CPRC says, greatly exaggerated the number of mass shootings, failed to adequately research each of the crimes it included in its report, and failed to correctly distinguish public shootings from those of other types.

While Everytown claimed that 110 mass shootings took place between January 2009 and July 2014, CPRC notes that the majority of the 110 incidents were not public crimes committed by deranged individuals seeking to harm large numbers of people, but were instead domestic or felony-related crimes committed in residences, or crimes committed by gangs.  By CPRC’s count, only 25 of the 110 crimes listed by Everytown were public mass shootings.  As CPRC points out, Everytown’s errors in this regard have also been pointed out by CNN, by The Blaze, and by PolitiFact, which found the anti-gun group’s claims to be “mostly false.”

Additionally, while Everytown tried to diminish the potential importance of allowing people to carry guns for protection, by claiming that 86% of mass shootings occur in places where people can possess guns, CPRC finds that “Since 2009, only eight percent of mass public shootings have occurred in places where civilians are allowed to defend themselves.”

Furthermore, while Everytown admitted that crimes involving “assault weapons” and “high-capacity” magazines are relatively uncommon, but claimed that they result in larger numbers of victims, CPRC finds that “Except for the tragedy at Newtown, the typical attack with an assault weapon actually results in slightly fewer deaths than shootings with other types of guns.”

In its analysis of the FBI’s “active shooter incidents” report, CPRC contends that the FBI “made a number of subtle and misleading decisions as well as outright errors,” which some in the media compounded by confusing “active shooter incidents” with “mass shootings.”

First, while the term “mass shootings” is generally assumed to refer to crimes in which four or more victims are murdered with firearms, CPRC notes, as we did last month, that most of the crimes included in the FBI’s report had between zero and three victims.  Second, as we also noted, the FBI didn’t include a significant number of crimes in its report.  Third, CPRC says that the FBI skewed the trend in the crimes it reviewed, by beginning with year 2000, when there were relatively few such crimes.

CPRC says, “Erroneously including non-mass shootings as well as omitting many mass shootings both biases the results to make it look as if attacks were increasing.”  However, by using corrected data and calculating mass shooting trends from 1977 forward, based upon research conducted by Professor Lott previously, CPRC finds that there has been only a slight increase in mass shooting victimization, and that most of that increase is due to crimes that took place in 2012.

CPRC’s findings provide further reason for the American people to question Everytown’s discredited claims, and particular reason for Washington voters to question what Everytown has been saying in its campaign for Ballot Initiative 594.  One could also wonder whether the FBI could have better served the public by conducting a more comprehensive and better researched report on shooting incidents, one that gun control supporters would be hard pressed to misrepresent.

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