Shattering the Myth That the U.S. Has More Mass Shootings Than Anywhere Else

News & Politics

It’s like clockwork. Anytime there’s a mass shooting, you can count on the Democrats and their willing accomplices in the media and celebrity bubbles to politicize the event and call for gun control, usually of the “commonsense” variety.

One of the common arguments that the left makes is the assertion — always uncontested and never backed up with facts — that the U.S. leads the world in mass shootings. Even figures that we don’t associate with the loony, unreasonable left often make this claim.

What’s particularly interesting about this talking point is that it’s a myth. Yesterday, two of my PJ Media colleagues, Gwendolyn Sims and Charlie Martin, brought to our team an article and a tweet thread that demolish this myth. So, dear reader, I’m happy to share with you the facts you can use to topple this myth, which the left uses to try to turn regular citizens into gun-grabbers.

First of all, let me say that mass shootings are horrific and heartbreaking. Any loss of life is unnecessary, especially the deaths of children. So I don’t mean to bring the facts up as a way to minimize the tragedy and senselessness of the three shootings that recently took place. With that said, those who politicize mass shootings dishonor the memory of those who lost their lives.

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Now, on with the facts. First, Jon Miltimore at the Foundation for Economic Education published an article in 2019 that dispelled the myth that the U.S. leads the world in mass shooting frequency and death.

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But first, Miltimore established The Narrative™ that has arisen from gun-grabbing leftists and mainstream media useful idiots, a story that well-meaning people who don’t do their homework repeat:

“Let’s be clear,” President Obama said in 2015 after a shooting in North Carolina. “At some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries.”

Sen. Harry Reid echoed this sentiment. “The United States is the only advanced country where this kind of mass violence occurs.”

Media headlines have left little doubt that the US leads the world in mass shootings.

Miltimore goes on to cite 2015 statistics from the Crime Prevention Research Center that show which countries top the U.S. both in mass shooting deaths and frequency of occurrences.

Crime Prevention Research Center

In both charts, the U.S. isn’t number one; it isn’t even in the top ten. So where does the myth stem from?

Miltimore lays the blame at the feet of University of Alabama associate professor Adam Lankford, who spent a couple of years trumpeting his findings that the U.S. led the world in mass shootings and ensuing deaths before releasing it in 2018. Miltimore says that Lankford’s research has serious flaws.

And now, let’s go to Twitter to find more info that destroys the myth. Andrew Follett of the Club for Growth, National Review, and The Daily Caller published a tweet thread on Wednesday, and it’s positively epic.

“The US makes up about 1.15% of the world’s mass shootings while having almost 5% of the world’s population,” Follett writes. “Out of 97 countries with data, the US is 64th in frequency of mass shootings and 65th in murder rate. And rates of mass shootings elsewhere are rising faster.”

Where does Follett get this data? Another, more recent study from John Lott at the Crime Prevention Research Center, reveals:

Over the 18 years from 1998 to 2015, our list contains 2,354 attacks and at least 4,880 shooters outside the United States and 53 attacks and 57 shooters within our country. By our count, the US makes up less than 1.15% of the mass public shooters, 1.49% of their murders, and 2.20% of their attacks. All these are much less than the US’s 4.6% share of the world population. Attacks in the US are not only less frequent than other countries, but they are also much less deadly on average.

Out of the 97 countries where we have identified mass public shootings occurring, the United States ranks 64th in the per capita frequency of these attacks and 65th in the murder rate.
Not only have these attacks been much more common outside the US, the US’s share of these attacks have declined over time. There has been a much bigger increase over time in the number and severity of mass shootings in the rest of the world compared to the US.

Follett goes on to prove, with loads of painstaking research, that areas within the U.S. that have less restrictive gun laws have lower rates of gun violence. Oh, and those areas are generally run by Republicans, but you probably already guessed that. But The Narrative lays the blame for gun violence at the feet of Republicans.

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“Libs PRIMARY RESPONSE is to blame the GOP for this…when they are LITERALLY THE ONES IN CHARGE of the cities choking under gun violence,” Follett declares.

“Nobody cares on the left cares about saving lives in this debate, they care about the prospect of letting their lawyer friends make money and getting a bit of desperately needed extra political energy,” he concludes.

Who’s to blame for the myth spreading so easily? I think you and I know the answer: the mainstream media.

Miltimore writes that “we must look to the era of narrative-driven journalism and the politicization of society, both of which subjugate truth to ideology and politics. Media and politicians latched onto Lankford’s findings in droves because his findings were convenient, not because they were true.”

Referencing Mark Twain’s famous quote that “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes,” Miltimore adds that “Lankford’s erroneous research had free rein for two years and was disseminated to tens of millions of viewers and readers before the truth finally got its shoes on.”

But the truth is that the U.S. isn’t the world leader in mass shootings and deaths, and in the words of an Atlanta radio news anchor from back in the day, “Now you know, and knowing is half the battle.”

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