Fact Checker: Acts of Violence

July 1, 2018

Fact Checker: Acts of Violence

News outlets consistently report various numbers and statistics regarding mass shootings. Based on what sells the most product, they may or may not hit the actual mark.

 

    Here are five claims vs. verified facts that clear up the water regarding mass acts of violence in the US. Keep in mind, some of these claims contain elements of truth. You'll have to draw political conclusions on your own.

 

Claim: Firearms are creating an epidemic of mass casualty violent events in the US.

     Fact: Attack methods that do not include firearms (arson, vehicle-ramming, edged weapons, improvised explosive devices, etc.) have proven to be just as deadly as firearm-based assaults[1].

     Fact: Firearm attacks make up a small percentage of deadly violent assaults.

          Percentage of violent crime injuries based on weapon system[2]:

               Unarmed Attacks: 58.33%

               Firearm Attacks: 9%

                    Less than a quarter of these firearm attacks used rifles

               Knife Attacks: 11.3%

               Blunt Object Attacks: 14.6%

 

[1] WA State Fusion Center, Unclassified Mass Shootings Report 2018

[2] US Department of Justice Special Report, Weapon Use and Violent Crime 1993-2001

 

  

2.  Claim: The US makes up less than 5% of the world’s population, but holds 31% of the global mass shooters. Therefore, the US is the focal point for acts of mass violence. 
     Fact: There is no world-wide accepted definition of “mass shooting” and no verified research that can be used to quantify these numbers (besides, other nations aren’t keeping track). Not even US state and federal governments can agree on "active shooter" numbers[1]. Regardless of the accurate answer, these numbers do not include mass casualty assaults with a perceived motive (such as terrorism), which is 25 times higher in other countries than in the US, making our nation one of the safest in the world.
          Annual Terrorist[2] Mass-Casualty attacks/deaths[3]:
              India:
                  927 attacks
                  337 deaths
              Philippines:
                  482 attacks
                  272 deaths
              Turkey:
                 363 attacks
                 657 deaths
             Yemen:
                 363 attacks
                 628 deaths
             US[4]:
                  19 attacks
                  17 deaths

[1] WA State Fusion Center, Unclassified Mass Shootings Report 2018 states 90 mass shootings have occurred in the US between 1966-2012; whereas the FBI lists the number of mass shootings between 2000-2012 at 143. Which one is right?
[2] Terrorist attack is defined as, “premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets”
[3] Department of Homeland Security Study of Terrorism, National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism, 2017
[4] National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism 2014

3. Claim: Easy access to firearms are a contributing factor to violent incidents.
     Fact: 26% of the average annual 8.9 million violent victimization's are committed by armed offenders (edged weapons, firearms, explosives). 9% of these attacks involved a firearm[1].
     Fact: 56% of mass shooters’ weapons have been obtained legally. 18% were obtained illegally. 26% of the time, agencies aren’t sure how weapons are acquired[2].


4.  Claim: The “Active Shooter” phenomenon is new. This just didn't happen 20 years ago.
     Fact: The third deadliest school shooting in US history occurred in 1966 (Univ. of Texas Tower Shooting- 18 killed).

 

[1] US Department of Justice Special Report, Weapon Use and Violent Crime 1993-2001

[2] WA State Fusion Center, Unclassified Mass Shootings Report 2018

5. Claim: The “Active Shooter” phenomenon is the same as it was 20 years ago. The media is just covering it more, perpetuating an increasing cycle of violence.

     Fact: Active shooter incidents, even when using the strict FBI definition, increased by 3000% (this is not a typo) between 2000 and 2017 within the United States[1]. Total casualties increased by 10,442%.

     Fact: Consistent media coverage of mass acts of violence -including showing pictures, naming, and publicizing the lives of the violent offenders- is a contributing factor to increasing rates of violence[2].

 

[1] Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2000-2013, 2016-2017 Active Shooter Incident Reports

[2] FBI Agent James Gagliano, 2018; Lt. Col. Dave Grossman On Killing, 1995

 

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