Investigations Show Mass Shooting, School Shooting Stats Are False

The numbers weren't just off, they were way off, according to followup studies.

A followup study by the Crime Prevention Research Center easily debunked a study done by Adam Lankford, which was the basis for the Obama administration's gun policies, and used as a justification for
A followup study by the Crime Prevention Research Center easily debunked a study done by Adam Lankford, which was the basis for the Obama administration's gun policies, and used as a justification for much anti-gun rhetoric in the past decade.NY Post

The claim that the United States is an abhoration because of its gun laws with the most mass public shootings in the world is the driving statistic behind much of the anti-Second Amendment rhetoric today—with many anti-gunners claiming that the country’s high rate of gun possession is the cause. Now, reports have shown that claim to be blatantly false.

In fact, the Obama administration leaned heavily on research done by criminologist Adam Lankford when formulating its gun policies.

Lankford’s subsequently published claims received coverage in hundreds of news stories worldwide and is still regularly cited.

According to the The New York Post, Lankford's research, purporting to cover all mass public shootings around the world from 1966 to 2012, claims that the U.S. had 31percent of public mass shooters despite having less than 5 percent of the population.

"But this isn't nearly correct," the story says. "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."

The study says that over 47 years there were 90 public mass shooters in the U.S. and 202 in the rest of the world. Lankford hasn’t released his list of shootings or even the number of cases by country or year.

"...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."

- —NY Post

"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," the Post writes. "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."

A new report from the Crime Prevention Research Center used the same definition of mass public shootings used by Lankford and came up with some different results.

The study only looked at the past 15 years, since there is no way of knowing of incidents where four or more people have been shot to death in Africa or many other parts of the world in recent decades (which is the first problem with Lankford’s study).

"Lankford's data grossly undercount foreign attacks. We found 1,423 attacks outside the United States. Looking adjust a third of the time Lankford studied, we still found 15 times as many shooters," the story says.

“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.”

The story goes on to say that when Lankford's data is revised, the "relationship between gun ownership rates and mass public shooters disappears."

Of the 240 school shootings reported by the government for 2015-16, NPR could only confirm 11 ever occurred.

The USED said that in the 2015-2016 school year, “nearly 240 schools…reported at least one incident involving a school-related shooting.”

NPR reports that it reached out to every one of the schools repeatedly during its three-month investigation and found that most of the reported incidents never even happened.

"We were able to confirm just 11 reported incidents, either directly with schools or through media reports," the NPR says.

“In 161 cases, schools or districts attested that no incident took place or couldn't confirm one. In at least four cases, we found, something did happen, but it didn't meet the government's parameters for a shooting. About a quarter of schools didn't respond to our inquiries.”

"The Education Department, asked for comment on our reporting, noted that it relies on school districts to provide accurate information in the survey responses and says it will update some of these data later this fall. But, officials added, the department has no plans to republish the existing publication," the story says.