On Wednesday, a Washington Post article announced that “The San Bernardino shooting is the second mass shooting today and the 355th this year.” Vox, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, this newspaper and others reported similar statistics. Grim details from the church in Charleston, a college classroom in Oregon and a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado are still fresh, but you could be forgiven for wondering how you missed more than 300 other such attacks in 2015.At Mother Jones, where I work as an editor, we have compiled an in-depth, open-source database covering more than three decades of public mass shootings. By our measure, there have been four “mass shootings” this year, including the one in San Bernardino, and at least 73 such attacks since 1982.What explains the vastly different count? The answer is that there is no official definition for “mass shooting.” Almost all of the gun crimes behind the much larger statistic are less lethal and bear little relevance to the type of public mass murder we have just witnessed again. Including them in the same breath suggests that a 1 a.m. gang fight in a Sacramento restaurant, in which two were killed and two injured, is the same kind of event as a deranged man walking into a community college classroom and massacring nine and injuring nine others. Or that a late-night shooting on a street in Savannah, Ga., yesterday that injured three and killed one is in the same category as the madness that just played out in Southern California.While all the victims are important, conflating those many other crimes with indiscriminate slaughter in public venues obscures our understanding of this complicated and growing problem. Everyone is desperate to know why these attacks happen and how we might stop them — and we can’t know, unless we collect and focus on useful data that filter out the noise.
Sunday, December 6, 2015
That last paragraph may be one the most egregious, asinine things ever written. "While all victims are important"? His point being, "clearly, they aren't."
I don't know who Mark Follman is (other than someone who clearly has no idea what he's talking about), but the fact remains, as I've pointed out for years on this blog, killing is an ideology itself. It doesn't matter if your motivation is race war, religious war, domestic violence or mental illness.
When we get bogged down in silly semantic debates/articles like this one ("Oh! So there have only been a few mass shootings...whew!"), you lose track of the real problem, as I articulated here already.
I'm surprised the Times would publish garbage like this.