Not so fast, Mr. Guardian!
There is a mass shooting — more than four people not including the shooter — nine out of 10 days in America.
The data referenced in Mr. Marche’s article comes from an another Guardian article by Sam Morris. Nowhere in that article or this one do Sam Morris or Stephen Marche ask any questions about the quality of the Gun Violence Archive (GVA) information.
The Gun Violence Archive thrives on big numbers and very little independent investigation. They know they can count on their fellow travelers to not look behind the curtain or ask embarrassing questions.
But they can’t count on me to extend the same forbearance.
The “mass shootings” reported by the GVA include all sorts of incidents. Their criteria for inclusion are simple: four or more people injured in some way by gunfire in a single incident. This bears no resemblance to the criteria used by law enforcement, which recognizes a far lower number of incidents as a mass shooting.
The GVA parameters allow the inclusion of things like an incident in Sand City, California. Two wanted fugitives were spotted in a Target parking lot. Police were called and two officers responded. As the officers approached their car, the criminals opened fire, wounding both officers. Despite their wounds, the officers were able to return fire, killing both fugitives. That was reported as a mass shooting by the Gun Violence Archives.
I think even Lonnie and Sandy Phillips would agree that this isn’t quite the same as the massacre at the Century Theater in Aurora, Colorado.
But let’s look at the 340 incidents reported by the GVA in 2018. On the face of it, it would appear that one of these mass shootings happens about once every 25 hours and 47 minutes.
But where are these mass shootings happening? Why isn’t the national news flooded with these incidents?
Surely new gun control laws are needed to address this epidemic.
The GVA mass shootings happened in 37 states. California and Illinois, both of which have strong gun control laws, tied for the most incidents. California, which has the toughest gun laws in America, according to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, led the nation in the number of homicides . associated with these mass shootings.
When I first pointed this out, someone told me that I was being unfair by simply counting the number of incidents. After all, the critic said, California has the largest population of any state in the Union. Apparently, it didn’t matter that Texas, with the second-largest population, had fewer than half the number of incidents the GVA reported for California.
The critic also said I was omitting the number of people injured from my comparison and implied I was ignoring them.
Thus chastised, I went back and calculated the rate of incidents and total casualties (deaths and injuries) per 100,000 population, based on U.S. Census Bureau estimates of state populations on July 1, 2018.
Keeping everything fair by calculating the rate of GVA mass shootings per 100,000 people in the state, we find some interesting results.
The states in red are those with grades of A or B from the Giffords Law Center. They have strong gun control with either universal background checks or state-issued firearm owner identification cards and a requirement to clear every purchase. Several of them also have restrictions on military-style rifles, magazine capacities, waiting periods and registration requirements.
The states in white don’t have universal background checks, although Michigan, Nebraska and North Carolina do require a permit to purchase a handgun. Florida has a waiting period which has been extended to cover all firearms.
Now look at the states in green. Other than the background checks for sales made by federally licensed dealers, there aren’t any. There also are no assault weapon restrictions, no magazine restrictions. no waiting periods, no permits to own or purchase, no red flag laws. These are among the fourteen “Constitutional Carry” states and residents don’t even need a permit to carry a concealed handgun.
South Dakota just became a Constitutional Carry state last month so it wouldn’t have counted for the 2018 calculations but it was among the fourteen states that didn’t have a mass shooting. There were thirteen Constitutional Carry states in 2018 and five had mass shootings. By the clever use of arithmetic, this leaves eight CC states out of fourteen. If we add in Montana and South Dakota, that brings us to ten. So ten out of 14 mass-shooting-free states, or more than 71%, didn’t have strong gun laws in 2018. In fact, all of these states received a grade of “F” from the Giffords Gang.
Wonder if anyone has told Lonnie and Sandy Phillips about this? Probably not, because that would mean breaking their hearts because they would also have to be told that none of what they have been told about gun control laws is true.
This is what Mark Glaze said two years after Aurora…
Incidentally, Mr. Marche brought up the killings at the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, California. He presented them as evidence of the changes needed.
This seems curious because every law currently proposed in Congress was on the books in California when Ian Long bought his gun and when Ian Long began murdering people in a bar.
Weird. Of course, they were also on the books when Kevin Neal shot up Rancho Tehama and most were in effect when Elliot Rodger embarked on his drive through Isla Vista with his California Department of Justice-approved pistols and magazines.
One last note: Oklahoma is on track to become the 15th state to adopt Constitutional Carry. The measure overwhelmingly passed the Oklahoma house and has gone to the Senate. If the Senate approves, Oklahoma’s new governor has already indicated he will sign it.