New FBI data shows number of mass shootings 10-times lower than media reports

From the The Second Amendment Foundation’s Investigative Journalism Project

According to a recently released report from the FBI, there were far fewer mass shootings over the past four years than were reported by the Gun Violence Archive, a private nonprofit that provides the data cited most often by the mainstream media.

The FBI found that while active shootings are increasing, they are not nearly the threat the Gun Violence Archive and the media would have you believe.

Here’s a breakdown of the FBI’s data for “active” shootings over the past five years:

  • 2016: 20

  • 2017: 31

  • 2018: 30

  • 2019: 30

  • 2020: 40

Here’s the number of “mass” shootings for the same timeframe from the Gun Violence Archive:

  • 2016: 382

  • 2017: 346

  • 2018: 337

  • 2019: 417

  • 2020: No data posted

The difference lies in the definitions.

According to their new report titled: “Active Shooter Incidents in the United States in 2020,” the FBI defines active shootings as:

  • Shootings in public places

  • Shootings occurring at more than one location

  • Shootings where the shooter’s actions were not the result of another criminal act

  • Shootings resulting in a mass killing

  • Shootings indicating apparent spontaneity by the shooter

  • Shootings where the shooter appeared to methodically search for potential victims

  • Shootings that appeared focused on injury to people, not buildings or objects

Shootings were excluded from the FBI’s list if they were the result of:

  • Self-defense

  • Gang violence

  • Drug violence

  • Contained residential or domestic disputes

  • Controlled barricade/hostage situations

  • Crossfire as a byproduct of another ongoing criminal act

  • An action that appeared not to have put other people in peril

By comparison, the Gun Violence Archive, or GVA, excludes nothing, even if the shooting is gang or drug related – the two main causes of most violence in the country today.

According to their website, the “GVA uses a purely statistical threshold to define mass shooting based ONLY on the numeric value of 4 or more shot or killed, not including the shooter.”

“GVA does not parse the definition to remove any subcategory of shooting. To that end we don’t exclude, set apart, caveat, or differentiate victims based upon the circumstances in which they were shot.

GVA believes that equal importance is given to the counting of those injured as well as killed in a mass shooting incident,” their website states.

While this practice may be fine for GVA’s statistical purposes, their definition is almost never cited or explained in news accounts of mass shootings, and the public is intentionally deceived.

Of the active shootings that occurred last year, the FBI found that “none of the total 40 incidents occurred in educational environments, health care facilities, or houses of worship.”

Twenty-four of the shooters were arrested. Six were killed. Seven committed suicide, and five remain at large.

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