The so-called “mainstream” media in the United States is largely a mouthpiece for the anti-gun rights movement. So, finding real facts and true information about gun ownership, violent crimes and so-called “mass shootings” is difficult, indeed. But are guns in America really the crisis they claim?
Taking a Look at Real Data on Guns in America
The real facts and figures are out there for anybody who chooses to devote a little time and effort. Since the New York Times or Washington Post won’t dig for the truth about guns and violent crime, we will.
Let’s take a brief look at some real numbers that completely disprove the media narrative that guns are bad. We’ll also answer the claims that lawful gun owners are the of cause violent crime. As well as whether you’re likely to die in a mass shooting at any time.
Murders, Deaths & Twisting The Facts
Some 72 million U.S. gun owners own nearly 400 million guns in the United States and gun ownership is increasing. However, many in the media want you to think all those gun owners are a problem. In reality, the vast majority are law-abiding citizens.
Anti-gun advocates and those in the “mainstream” media like to talk about the high number of “firearm-related deaths” in the United States like there is some kind of crazy murder spree occurring. And they’ll take the roughly 45,000 deaths involving guns and compare that to unrelated topics to try and mislead you.
For example, the claim that more people are killed by guns than automobile accidents is a huge falsehood. The claim insinuates that gun accidents result in more death than car accidents. Which is demonstrably incorrect.
Likewise, headlines like “Murder Rate Jumps Again” and lead paragraphs stating 45,000 people “were killed with guns,” are misdirection. They want their audience to believe those 45,000 Americans were murdered—another huge lie.
Here’s the truth. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 45,222 people died from gun-related injuries in 2020. A little more than half of those (24,292) died by taking their own lives. While the suicide problem we are witnessing—especially among our armed forces veterans—is a true tragedy, media should be ashamed of themselves for constantly lumping those deaths in with murders and calling it “gun violence.”
Breaking It Down
Another 1,500 or so gun-related deaths fall into categories other than suicide and murder. In 2020, 535 deaths were unintentional (so much for more people dying in gun accidents than auto accidents). Likewise, 611 involved law enforcement and about 400 had undetermined circumstances.
As for the remainder of gun-related deaths that actually were homicides—19,384 in 2020— even though they are blamed on guns we all know that there has to be a person involved willing to take a life and pull the trigger for the murder to occur. That’s why it’s more appropriate to refer to so-called “gun violence” as “criminal violence.”
Of the 19,000-plus murders, a very large proportion are gang members killing other gang members, according to John Lott, head of the Crime Prevention Research Center.
“The overwhelming majority of non-adult murders involve drug gangs, and nearly all of the victims are teenagers,” Lott wrote in an early 2020,op-ed published at TownHall.com. “Drug dealers are the primary source of illegal guns.”
It’s important to note that the Pew Research Center has pointed out that despite the higher number of gun-related deaths in recent years, the actual rate of gun deaths—a statistic that accounts for the nation’s growing population—remains below the levels of earlier years.
And worldwide, firearms-related violent deaths decreased from 3.9 per 1,000 in 2016 to 2.7 per 1,000 in 2020, according to the Small Arms Survey.
So-Called “Mass Shootings”
You can’t pick up a newspaper or turn on the television without learning about another “mass shooting” somewhere in America. For our purposes, let’s call them “mass murders,” since Americans own guns for a wide range of reasons. For example, most law abiding gun owners commonly go to the range to train and enjoy shooting.
While those gun owners are sometimes derisively referred to as the “gun culture,” most are men and women who own guns for self-defense. Not to mention recreational shooters. Media calling mass murderers “shooters” casts a pall on the millions upon millions of lawful “shooters” who enjoy practicing their right to keep and bear arms in a number of ways.
When most Americans hear the term “mass shooting,” they think of the high-profile shootings. Such as a mentally ill individual walking into his former workplace and opening fire on the remaining employees he hates. Or a disenfranchised teen waltzing into a school and shooting into a hallway full of students, teachers and staff.
That’s what the media want you to think. However, the figures quoted in the media are greatly misleading. This is because different organizations define the term “mass shooting” so differently.
“Mass Shootings” By Definition
The source most used in the media is called the Gun Violence Archive, a distinctly anti-gun website. It defines a “mass shooting” as four or more people injured or killed in one incident.
By that definition, a police shootout where two law enforcement officers were injured and two suspects killed could hypothetically be found among the numbers, since four or more people were injured or killed in one incident.
The same could be true for a home invasion where three violent criminals break into a house and are shot by a law-abiding homeowner, if that homeowner, too, was injured in the incident.
In fact, browsing the archives shows that many of the incidents the archive specifically mentions as “mass shootings,” and are reported so by the media, are so far from the media-fueled public conception that it’s nearly laughable.
A few examples: four Happy Valley, Oregon, 17- to 20-year-olds who shot it out at a block party. A fight between a 15-year-old Lakeland, Florida, boy and others that spilled over into a family Christmas party. An apparent gang shooting in New Orleans. And an accidental shooting in a Cleveland, Ohio, bar.
Using FBI criteria to define “mass shootings,” as the Crime Prevention Research Center does, you get a far different story. To make this list, the shootings must kill four or more people in a public place simply with the intention of killing—what most Americans actually think of as a mass shooting. It also discounts gang fights and killings motivated by other crimes.
An International Comparison
Those criteria paint a very different story, as seen by these conclusions from the years 1998 to 2017.
“Over the 20 years from 1998 to 2017, our list contains 2,772 attacks and at least 5,764 shooters outside the United States and 62 attacks and 66 shooters within our country,” CPRC Director John Lott wrote in a 2020 research paper. “By our count, the U.S. makes up less than 1.13 percent of the mass public shooters, 1.77 percent of their murders, and 2.19 percent of their attacks. All these are much less than the U.S.’s 4.6 percent share of the world population.”
Crunching the numbers further, Lott found that: “Out of the 101 countries where we have identified mass public shootings occurring, the United States ranks 66th in the per capita frequency of these attacks and 56th in the murder rate. Not only have these attacks been much more common outside the U.S., the U.S.’s share of these attacks has declined over time. There has been a much bigger increase over time in the number of mass shootings in the rest of the world compared to the U.S.”
In the end, horrific mass murders in public places in the U.S. are indeed terrible and we must minimize them. However, stricter gun laws like banning assault style weapons, expanding background checks, or shutting down gun shows aren’t the answer. That’s easy to see from the recent mass murder in New York. And New York has some of the most stringent gun control laws in the nation.
We should all realize that our chances of dying in a mass shooting event are quite low. This is despite what the media would have you believe.