It’s never a good morning when I wake up and there’s a mass murder such as the Maine shooting to write about. I’ve covered plenty and they bring up some unpleasant memories even without the wanton carnage unleashed by the killer.
Mass shootings are often held up as evidence that we have serious problems, and I can’t say definitively that it’s not. Something does seem to be broken within our nation since we have more of these than most places.
Yet we don’t have as many as some claim. Sites like the Gun Violence Archive use an overly broad definition to try and sell the American people on this idea that things are worse than they are.
Then we have media outlets trying to sell the idea that 2023 is going to be a super dangerous year for Americans.
The piece is headlined, “America’s gun problem: How 2023 is on track to becoming the most dangerous year,” and the subtitle read:
Maine in the US was left shell-shocked when a gunman killed 22 people and injured dozens in two shootings. This incident again throws the spotlight on America’s arms obsession – in the past nine months, there have been 565 such tragedies, making 2023 the deadliest year of gun violence
And there’s nothing in the story to back this up.
First, there’s no source anywhere for the “565 such tragedies” number. It’s Gun Violence Archive, but they don’t provide it so we’re left guessing unless we want to hunt it down…which I did because it was my job, like it was their job.
But a mass shooting, particularly using Gun Violence Archive’s numbers, isn’t the totality of gun deaths. Gun Violence Archive counts any shooting where three or more people were shot, not counting the perpetrator. That means a lot of those 565 incidents didn’t have a single fatality. Many others only had a single fatality.
So that makes any claim that 2023 is the most dangerous and deadly year of so-called gun violence questionable to start with.
Especially in light of the fact that we’ve seen a lot of evidence the overall homicide rate is dropping.
The Maine shooting is a serious event and will no doubt leave a mark on those who survived, but that doesn’t chance the fact that mass shootings are outliers. While sites like Gun Violence Archive no doubt want to inflate those numbers as much as possible, in part to get a reaction like they got from whoever wrote this crap, even their definition of mass shooting accounts for a small portion of violent crime.
Your odds are worse of being killed by a friend than in a mass shooting, really.
The Maine shooting was awful, but it’s not the typical day in the life of anyone. Maine, for example, only had 29 murders in all of 2022. They had 18 in 2021. If events like the Maine shooting were common, even in Maine, those numbers would look quite different.
Those are all violent crimes, and while 2023 numbers are going to look very different because of what happened Wednesday evening, it’s still an outlier. They’re shocking and terrifying, but they’re still outliers. Even attempts to make them seem more common only illustrate just how rare they are, all things considered.
2023 is an awful year for homicides in Maine. I don’t think anyone can dispute that right here and now. The Maine shooting was about a year’s worth of murders all rolled into one.
But the statistics we have available still suggests that the homicide rate is dropping. To call it the deadliest year is beyond irresponsible.
Then again, when you’re more interested in sensationalism instead of reality, this is what you get.