Anti-Gun 'Expert' Says Gun Collecting a 'Red Flag' for Mass Shootings

AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File

Just a few days after asserting that the real reason behind the push for allowing armed school staff is to sell guns, the man behind the K-12 School Shooting Database has let loose with another unfounded claim designed to smear gun owners and Second Amendment supporters. 


As my colleague Tom Knighton pointed out in a previous post, the mentally disturbed man responsible for shooting up a splash zone in Rochester Hills, Michigan had a collection of 11 different firearms in his home. That's hardly an arsenal, but the anti-gun media is doing its best to paint that collection in the most nefarious terms possible, and they're getting an assist from David Reidman and his K-12 School Shooting Database account on X. 

So, a couple of handguns (one chambered in .22), along with several bolt-action and lever action rifles, a couple of shotguns of varying gauges (mostly pump action), and one semi-automatic rifle. Again, hardly an arsenal, much less a sign that the owner planned on trying to murder families at a water park, but according to Reidman "stockpiling weapons is a red flag that someone may be plotting a mass shooting."

Reidman ended up debunking his own claim in the same post on X, when he stated that "there is a small cohort of high-risk gun hoarders. Just 3% of gun owners collectively own 133M firearms (about 1/3 of all civilian owned guns)." 

Now, I have no idea if Reidman's stats are accurate (and he doesn't either, given that we don't have any sort of national firearms registration scheme), but let's assume for the sake of argument that his numbers are in the ballpark. Other estimates point to about 80 million gun owners in the country, which would mean there are at least 2.4 million "super owners" throughout the United States. 


It doesn't take a data scientist to point out there are nowhere near 2.4 million mass shootings in the country. The Mass Killings Database established by criminologist Dr. James Alan Fox, which defines a mass killing as any incident "in which four or more people, excluding the offender, were killed within a 24-hour time frame," there have been 16 such incidents in the United States this year. Even under the more expansive definition of a mass shooting used by the Gun Violence Archive, which counts any incident in which four or more people were injured as a mass shooting, there have been 229 incidents so far this year. 

Clearly, the vast majority of people who have a firearms collection aren't running around committing mass shootings. A 2023 Secret Service report on mass violence also fails to mention gun collecting as a warning sign. Instead, the agency noted that most of the attackers had exhibited behavior that was concerning to friends, family, or coworkers; had a history of physically aggressive behavior; experienced "stressful life situations"; and displayed symptoms of mental health problems before the attack. 

The Secret Service report doesn't devote any time at all to gun collectors, though it did note that only 21% of the attackers they looked at had "an excessive or inappropriate interest in violence evidenced through consuming or producing violent content, demonstrating an interest in harming others, or an inappropriate interest in or obsession with weapons." 

According to the same report, 28% of attackers "demonstrated an interest in military, law enforcement, or similar careers." Would Reidman assert that wanting to enlist in the military or work as a police officer is another "red flag" when it comes to mass shooters? If not, why? The Secret Service report indicates that's a more common attribute than an "obsession with weapons", much less collecting them. 


As sociologist David Yamane writes in his new book Gun Curious, gun ownership is normal and normal people own guns. Reidman and other anti-gun activists are intent on convincing Americans otherwise; denormalizing and demonizing the millions of Americans who own more than one or two firearms by labeling them potential mass shooters. It's a despicable smear, but one that will undoubtedly stick with many of Reidman's supporters and friends in the media who are predisposed to view gun ownership in general with disdain and contempt.

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