Setting Australian News Straight on 'Mass Shootings' in US

AP Photo/Brittainy Newman, File

While it doesn't always feel that way, I actually do try to stay out of other nations' politics. Yes, I'll opine on the topic of guns, but that's a topic I understand both the political and societal ramifications of gun laws pretty well.


Beyond guns and gun control, I try to stay out of it, for the most part because I won't pretend I understand other nations well enough to offer up meaningful opinions.

Unfortunately, it's downright hilarious to me how so many other nations figure they understand what's going on here well enough to try and draw conclusions. Especially when they don't even understand the sources they're using.

For example, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation--their own ABC as opposed to ours--decided to look at "mass shootings" here over a 24-hour span.

There have already been 4,138 deaths linked to gun violence across the United States in 2024, according to independent research organisation the Gun Violence Archive (GVA).

Among those killed, 355 were children and teenagers. More than 350 incidents were "unintentional".

GVA defines a "mass shooting" as "a minimum of four victims shot, either injured or killed, not including any shooter who may also have been killed or injured in the incident".

Mistake one is to actually listen to the Gun Violence Archive folks. They intentionally use a weaker definition of mass shooting--one which includes incident where no one was killed and where both sides were involved in the shooting--in order to inflate the number. The so-called brains behind GVA are anti-gun zealots who are intentionally trying to misrepresent the issue.

Further, they rely on news reports to determine what's happening when and where. That means many of their reported shootings are based on the initial reports, not hard and fast facts after they've been examined by competent authorities.


For example, how many of those 350 "unintentional" shootings were really cases of people shooting someone else and claiming it was an accident to try and avoid a murder charge? We honestly don't know because GVA doesn't have access to that information.

Moving on, ABC looks at another "mass shooting."

At 4:20am, local time, 29-year-old Stefon Barnes is buying a bag of chips at a deli in the Bronx, New York.

He's a frequent customer, a familiar face for the workers behind the counter.

Despite the early hour the shop is packed with customers, dancing and singing, when a scuffle breaks out – video shows a man in a ski mask attempting to rifle through another man's pockets.

As the struggle escalates and another man joins in, a gun goes off.

Stefon is shot in the right thigh and taken to hospital in critical condition, where he's later pronounced dead.

This is one of the seven "mass shootings" ABC news is examining from just a single day in the United States, but there's a problem. Stefon's death, while an awful tragedy that never should have happened, doesn't look like a mass shooting. A gun went off and he was struck? Tragic, but even by Gun Violence Archive's weaker definition, that doesn't sound like a mass shooting.

Maybe because it's not one? The Bronx shooting doesn't show up in GVA's listing of mass shootings that day--two in gun-controlled Chicago do, however--so why include it? Because it's tragic and will likely undermine any attempt at fighting for gun rights in Australia as well as paint us as horrible for not enacting gun control.


Yet here are the facts that the Australian media is missing.

First, most of these aren't mass shootings, as we've seen. Second, let's also remember that Australia has a population of around 26 million. Texas has a population of 30 million. 

The reason that matters is that the larger the population, the more of a chance you have of something going wrong. Most of these shootings aren't "mass shootings" as most people imagine them. They're criminal attacks targeting specific individuals where the attackers simply don't care about collateral damage. That's a different problem, in part because these people get their guns illegally in the first place.

ABC doesn't note that, however. Instead, they make it seem like everyone who carries out any attack simply goes to a gun store and can walk out with one right then, regardless of any other facts. That's simply not what we've found in numerous studies as to how criminals get guns.

But that would require them to try and understand the United States, something far too many of them think they understand without actually doing so.

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