On safety from mass shootings, perception is not reality

AP Photo/LM Otero

It is, unfortunately, the aftermath of another mass shooting, this time in Allen, Texas. Unsurprisingly, we’re getting an onslaught of stories and op-eds pushing gun control.

This is the natural order of things, or so it seems.

However, there are some ideas that are being pushed along with it that are, frankly, terrible. They’re just nonsense to anyone who looks at them rationally for even half a second.

They’re just counting on no one looking at them rationally.

A prime example comes from a story at ABC News:

What we as a society have been doing is not working. We have more attacks, more deaths, more injuries and more trauma each year than the year prior.

No place is safe. Every part of the public square has become the scene of an attack of mass violence.

We are in the ninth year of a sharp uptick in domestic terrorist activity and mass attacks in public spaces. An average of 31 people were killed every year by terrorism from 2015-2021; before 2015, the average was three people a year.

The latest National Terrorism Advisory Bulletin assesses the threat environment as dynamic, complex and high. Targets could include public gatherings, faith-based institutions, schools, racial and religious minorities, government facilities and personnel, U.S. critical infrastructure, the media and perceived ideological opponents.

While we don’t have data yet for 2022, early indicators are that the trend is continuing and possibly accelerating.

Now, I’m not going to say we shouldn’t address domestic terrorism. It’s the kind of thing you can’t allow to fester or else it will become a major problem.

However, this idea that no place is safe is nonsense.

If you look at mass shootings as a whole–and make no mistake, this entire piece is using the specter of domestic terrorism to push an anti-gun agenda, much like similar pieces about mass shootings–there have only been 144 since 1982 according to Mother Jones.

Let’s be real here, Mother Jones isn’t exactly partnering with the NRA to keep the numbers down. If anything, the fact that they’re not claiming there are more is a potent reminder that the problem is drastically overstated.

And these are just mass shootings overall, not ideologically inspired attacks that can include all kinds of things that don’t require a firearm.

About those 144 mass shootings, though, over more than 40 years, we also need to remember that this is a nation of currently 330 million people. The odds of you ever facing a mass shooter in your life are slim at best.

So this idea that no place is safe is absolute nonsense.

Were this simply an op-ed, I’d argue it’s needless, alarmist hyperbole, but it’s also par for the course with op-eds. I can’t honestly say I’ve never engaged in hyperbole myself, after all.

Yet this isn’t framed as opinion. This is supposedly hard news.

It argues that homicides due to domestic terrorism were rare, but are now less so, yet provides absolutely no numbers with which we can compare the problem and make up our own minds. The writer is telling us what to think, but not why we should think that.

And that’s likely because it’s still not nearly as much of an issue as she’d like us to believe.

Further, I don’t think she wants to go down this road too far because while there’s a lot of argument that Allen was the result of a white supremacist rampage, let’s not forget that Louisville was the result of an anti-gunner trying to make a point.

People are as safe as they’ve ever been. They’re safer now than they were in the 1970s and ’80s.

They just don’t want you to feel safe, because then you’ll think what they tell you to think.