Monday, June 15, 2015

Media-touted FBI "Mass Shooting" Report (Supposedly) Debunked


A misleading 2014 FBI report that fueled media claims that mass shooting incidents in the U.S. are rising sharply has been thoroughly debunked. In a piece appearing in the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences' March 2015 ACJS Today newsletter, Economist John R. Lott carefully lays out the flaws in the Bureaus' "A Study of Active Shooter Incidents in the United States between 2000 and 2013" report.

First, Lott takes the media to task for misrepresenting the underlying scope of the report, and for FBI's failure to adequately explain the content to its readers. Rather than track mass shootings or murders, the report in fact attempts to track "active shooter incidents." This is significant because it encompasses events where no one was shot or killed.

Despite this, media outlets ran sensational headlines, like the New York Times', "F.B.I. Confirms a Sharp Rise in Mass Shootings Since 2000." Lott contends that FBI exacerbated this misperception, noting, "The report discusses mass public shootings, but it never makes it clear to the readers that these types of fatalities and attacks are actually not increasing over time."

First of all, John Lott calling someone else's work misleading is too funny for words.  The word that does come to mind is hypocrisy, of course.  Secondly, I thought the FBI had the final word in these matters, or is that only when it fits the gun fanatics' narrative?


  1. MikeB: "Secondly, I thought the FBI had the final word in these matters, or is that only when it fits the gun fanatics' narrative?"

    Um, they did issue a final word on the matter, and it kind of does fit with the pro-gun narrative. You didn't read the whole article?

    A pair of researchers who worked on the FBI report issued a defense of their work in the May edition of ACJS Today. The researchers attempted to shift blame for the misunderstanding to the media, noting, "We wonder if some members of the media intentionally misreported findings in an attempt to generate a bigger headline or advance their own agendas." As to why their report was missing so many relevant incidents, they admit, "We acknowledge in the FBI report that our data are imperfect."

  2. In fact, the FBI report did track mass shootings but in a limited sense. This means that mass shootings are more prevalent than the NYTimes states.

    So, as far as the report being "debunked"--that's simply NRA wishful thinking.