Rejecting faulty media premise on mass shootings

AP Photo/Joshua Bessex

In the wake of any mass shooting, there will be questions. Some of those make perfect sense, such as those asking why it happened or what made someone want to carry out something like that.

We can all understand those.

Others, apparently, ask dumber questions that make it clear they blame the tool used rather than the tool using it.

But one thing we all need to be careful of is to be sure to reject faulty premises, such as this one:

We are only 19 weeks into 2022 and there have already been 203 mass shootings this year, according to The Gun Violence Archive.

The group defines a mass shooting as an event in which four or more people are killed or injured by a gun, not including the shooter.

After the high-profile mass shooting in Buffalo New York, which targeted specifically Black people, many are talking about the normalization of extremism.

Yet again, this nation’s lackluster response to a gun violence epidemic has become event in the most catastrophic way.

Recent mass shootings are a tragic reminder of the need for gun control.

You can put it in big, bold type all you want, but the fact that you’re starting from a flawed premise means you’re bolding your ignorance.

See, a lot of people are throwing that particular number around, 203 mass shootings this year.

As noted, they get it from the Gun Violence Archive.

However, Gun Violence Archive isn’t some innocent tracking project. They’re an anti-gun group with an agenda and are manipulating data in order to push for political change.

And tools like this are helping to make it a reality.

What Gun Violence Archive does is create the broadest definition of mass shootings they could manufacture, then present those numbers in an effort to persuade through emotion.

When someone hears the term “mass shooting,” they picture bloody bodies lying everywhere. They picture a killer going through wherever gunning down innocent people in an effort to increase a body count.

That’s not what Gun Violence Archive counts.

They count any shooting where four people were injured. That includes a lot of far more pedestrian crimes such as gang violence. It artificially inflates the number of “mass shootings” in an effort to make it seem like they’re far more common than they truly are.

People see that number and think back, realizing they didn’t hear anything about 203 different mass shootings in the news, and think that they’re now so common we’re not hearing all of them.

That’s not the case at all. What we’re not hearing about are shootings where few or no one died and where it was often associated with some other kind of crime.

When people like the author present this number, then ask if it’s finally time to consider gun control, I will always maintain it’s not, especially since the premise here is fatally flawed.

It’s vital that whenever someone tries this kind of thing, they get called down for it. We need to make it clear to the media that we will not be manipulated with false statistics and inflated rhetoric. Gun Violence Archive is free to track whatever the hell they want to track, but that doesn’t mean the media should accept it so uncritically.

Then again, they share the same agenda, so it shouldn’t be surprising.

However, that doesn’t mean we should let them say whatever they wish without challenge. If they get enough pushback, they may stop using those numbers altogether.

The American people deserve real information and real statistics, not blatant propaganda masquerading as unbiased information.

Then again, with our media, there’s not much hope of that.