• Media hype at odds with facts in regard to ‘rampant shootings’
By Keith Johnson
Though most gun-control advocates would have us believe that mass shootings in the United States are on the rise, there’s at least one who disputes that claim and insists that expanded background checks and assault-weapon bans will not dissuade those intent on carrying out violent acts.
In a recent study entitled “Mass Shootings in America: Moving Beyond Newtown,” Northeastern University criminology professor James Alan Fox, Ph.D., dispelled several myths propagated by the mainstream media and anti-Second Amendment groups concerning gun violence.
For instance, despite claims to the contrary, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) statistics analyzed by Fox prove that there have been, on average, roughly 20 mass shootings per year in the U.S. over the past three decades with no notable increase in recent years. For some perspective, around 80 million Americans own firearms.
“Public discourse is grounded in myth and misunderstanding about the nature of the offense and those who perpetrate it,” Fox wrote. “Without minimizing the pain and suffering of the hundreds of those who have been victimized in recent attacks, the facts clearly say that there has been no increase in mass shootings and certainly no epidemic.”
Fox also examined data compiled by the gun-control group Mayors Against Illegal Guns and found that only 14 of the 93 mass shootings analyzed from January 2009 through September 2013 involved assault weapons or high-capacity magazines. Furthermore, Fox determined that none of the “assailants in those shootings were prohibited by federal law from possessing firearms because of mental illness,” thus debunking the myth that “enhanced background checks will keep dangerous weapons out of the hands of murderers.”
Though Fox confirms what many pro-gun groups have suspected all along, it doesn’t mean he’s on their side. In fact, Fox concludes that eliminating “the risk of mass murder would involve extreme steps that we are unable or unwilling to take,” which, in his opinion, begins with “abolishing the Second Amendment.”
“The fact that gun control, expanded psychiatric services, and increased security measures are limited in their ability to prevent dreadful mass shootings doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try,” Fox wrote. “Gun restrictions and other initiatives may not stop the next mass murderer, wherever he or she may strike, but we can enhance the well-being of millions of Americans in the process. Besides, doing something is better than doing nothing.”
In an effort to determine the real value of Fox’s recent study, this AMERICAN FREE PRESS reporter spoke with prominent gun-rights advocate John R. Lott, Jr., author of the book, More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws. Although Lott agrees that there has been no dramatic increase in multiple victim shootings, his research has determined that one particular kind of mass murder has become more common in recent days because of the press attention it has received.
“What’s happening is that there’s been more news coverage on these school shootings,” Lott said. “When the President and others make a big deal about these things, it creates an incentive for others to follow down that road.”
Lott goes on to say that Sandy Hook shooter Adam Lanza is a perfect example of a “copy cat” killer who was inspired by other high-profile mass murderers.
“Lanza planned his attack for over two years,” he said. “He put together spreadsheets from data collected on past mass shooting—including the number of people killed, the types of weapons used and the amount of press coverage—and determined that those who had the highest body count got the most media attention. There are people out there who want to commit suicide while making a name for themselves in the process.”
Though school shootings in the U.S. have increased, Lott maintains that freer access to firearms is not a significant contributing factor.
“When we look around the world, three of the four worst mass shootings of school children occurred in Europe,” said Lott. “Two of them were in Germany, which has extremely strict gun-control laws. You basically can’t get a semi-automatic weapon there and it takes a year to go through psychological screenings to buy a rifle. But that hasn’t stopped people from obtaining illegal firearms and engaging in these types of atrocities.”
Lott said that the 2011 mass shooting perpetrated by Anders Breivik in Norway is yet another example of where a determined murderer was able to obtain weapons despite strict gun-control laws.
“Breivik killed 69 people and wounded 110 others, more than any other mass shooting” Lott said. “But that can’t be blamed on guns. When you have people planning these attacks many months or years in advance, it’s very hard to stop them from obtaining some kind of weapon. If they can’t get firearms, they’ll learn to make bombs. The point is, if they want to kill as many people as possible, they’ll find some way to do it.”
While Lott does not agree with all the conclusions drawn in Fox’s study, he does believe they serve as a valuable insight into the minds of some gun-control advocates, who are now starting to realize that tighter restrictions are unrealistic and counterproductive.
As he explains: “We just had the police chief in Detroit coming out in favor of arming citizens. And this is a very liberal city with a majority of Democrat voters. Even the head of Interpol, which is Europe’s version of the FBI, now admits that secure areas (gun-free zones) are a magnet for terrorist attacks. These are people who’ve changed their views [on firearms ownership] over time because they’ve seen first-hand that these prohibitive rules simply don’t work.”