Lying About Gun Violence With Statistics

Fake numbers for fake news.

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, focuses on Islamic terrorism and the radical left.

Every time a Muslim terrorist shoots, stabs, bombs or runs over Americans, the default response is, “Let’s not jump to any conclusions”. That’s swiftly followed by media spin pieces claiming that the majority of terrorist attacks are really committed by white male Republicans and the Amish based on math so bad that even the world’s crookedest bookie wouldn’t go near it. And anyone who argues that the pattern of Islamic terror attacks is a call for common sense migration reform is regarded as a racist and a coward who wants to destroy the Constitution by blowing a handful of attacks out of proportion.

(And do you know how many people are hit by lightning or stung by killer bees every year.)

And whenever a suburban shooting happens, especially in a school, it becomes a clarion call to dismantle the 2nd Amendment. And that’s also backed by some of the world’s worst statistics.

The worst gun violence statistics trolls work for Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety. Bloomberg had bought Gracie Mansion out of the pocket change in his sofa cushion. But buying the office of mayor of New York City was a lot easier than his plans to buy the White House. Everytown was supposed to be a match for the NRA. But while the NRA represents gun owners, Everytown represents a lefty billionaire. And Bloomberg’s gun control trolls spent years dressing in drag to hide that simple fact.

There was Mayors Against Illegal Guns, but the group quickly began falling apart. Some members had to leave when they were caught misusing guns. Like Mayor James Schiliro who was arrested for waving guns around and demanding sexual favors from a young man. Then there was Ma Bloomberg’s Moms Demand Action. None of it worked. And Everytown for Gun Safety isn’t working either.

What does a fake group like Everytown do? It spreads fake statistics.

Everytown jumped on the Parkland, Florida school shooting to claim that there were “18 shootings at schools in the first 45 days of 2018.” If that sounds like a lot, you’re right.

But Everytown was being literally true, and false in every other way. There were 18 shootings at schools: counting suicides, accidental firearms discharges and shootings in the general vicinity of a school even when the building is completely empty. In around half of the shootings, no one was injured.

But the media initially fell for the Everytown hoax because it fit the narrative.

Mass shootings haven’t actually increased. But the perception of them has. Criminologist James Alan Fox has repeatedly demonstrated that the hard numbers aren’t going anywhere. But real statistics are boring. And so fake statistics, whether from Everytown, Vox or Mother Jones, have proliferated instead.

Fake statistics like Everytown’s 18 school shootings create a sense of urgency. Nothing manufactures a crisis like statistics showing that the problem is getting worse when what is actually getting worse is the media coverage. The media’s obsession with mass shootings not only creates the perception that they are getting worse, but it also inspires a special class of mass shooters to aim for a new high score.

Guns don’t cause mass shootings, but media coverage does.

“The copycat phenomenon is real,” Andre Simons, of the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit, asserted. Even Mother Jones noted the Columbine Effect in which the infamous school shootings inspired 74 others. One group of researchers found that up to 20 or 30 percent of attacks can be influenced by previous attacks. Statements and writings by mass shooters serve as anecdotal evidence that the copycat effect is real. The media’s obsession with mass shooters creates more of them.

There is statistical evidence that teenage suicides spread. That’s why the media doesn’t cover them. The exception is when that teenager brings a gun to school and opens fire. Mass shooters want publicity and the media wants to dismantle the right to private gun ownership. Don’t blame the NRA, blame NBC.

 Guns don’t kill people, but sometimes cameras do. It would be foolish to treat the 1st Amendment the way that the media would like us to treat the 2nd Amendment. There is a constitutional right to media bias. Just as there is a right to own a rifle. And as long as madmen kill, the media will lie about them.

The bigger statistical hoax isn’t Everytown’s 18 school shootings. It’s the media’s unspoken equivalence of gun violence with mass shootings. Like serial killers, mass shooters are an aberration. Everytown’s hoax unintentionally reveals what gun violence really looks like. It isn’t Parkland: it’s suicides, accidental discharges and gang violence. Most gun violence isn’t the work of mass shooters, but gang members.

The suburban kid who goes to a school and opens fire will be on the news for weeks while the kid in the ghetto who shoots up a housing project in Chicago or St. Louis will never be more than a local crime story. But those local crime stories are what make Chicago, Baltimore and St. Louis uniquely dangerous.

The firearm crime rate has been steadily falling. Even as the population has grown, the number of incidents and victims have dropped sharply. Gun control conspiracy theorists obsess over the 2004 Federal Assault Weapons Ban. But the number of firearms incidents has been higher before it expired and has often been lower since it expired. Gun bans have very little to do with violent crime.

Violent crime is carried out by criminals. Banning guns doesn’t stop people who already operate outside the law. The French authorities seize some 1,200 “assault rifles” every year. Meanwhile in the capital of the European Union, you can get a “military weapon” for $500 in half an hour.

The “If we were more like Europe” argument is elitist posturing by wannabe expats who have never visited the seedier and grimier parts of Sweden, France or the United Kingdom after sunset. Most gun violence in America and Europe isn’t committed by legal gun owners, but by known criminals.

The media loves crazed lone wolf shooters, but they’re the exception, not the rule.

Most shootings are carried out by gang members against other gang members. Innocent bystanders can and do get hit in these battles. But they’re wars between rival organizations and soldiers. Gun control won’t stop them from obtaining firearms or settling their scores in the streets of Chicago.

Chicago, like most of the country’s bloodiest war zones, has tough gun control laws. The parts of the country where a weekend wraps up with six shootings are usually not the places with high percentages of legal gun ownership where you can browse through a selection of rifles at the local mall.

The media’s greatest statistical trick is mixing everything together.

Gang members shooting each other by the dozen over a Chicago weekend are added to the pot. But the meatloaf that comes out has the face of the latest suburban school shooter. The huge suicide rate is tossed in to inflate gun violence statistics. And audiences are left with the impression that huge numbers of people are being shot in schools across the country. Just look at those 18 school shootings.

We don’t have a gun violence problem. Parts of Chicago, Baltimore and St. Louis do. Parkland is an aberration. As was Sandy Hook. But the media would like to let Adam Lanza be the face of gun violence instead of the inner city kid from a permanent Dem district with a record longer than the Sears Tower.

The media wants to have a conversation about gun violence, good idea. We can start by asking why it’s more prevalent in Democrat areas, and why they would rather talk about the inanimate objects than the perpetrators pulling the trigger. We can ask Jimmy Kimmel how many guns his security detail carries and find out how willing Michael Bloomberg would be to walk through Baltimore without any armed guards.

But honest conversations aren’t on the table. Everytown is just doing its part to keep it dishonest.