Last year, the FBI released a report about active shooters that was seized upon by the antigun faithful and twisted into a screed about mass shootings. Last week, it turned out that the information was not only wrong, but massaged. Yeserday, the WSJ showed a rare moment of honesty and reported on it:
Last September the Obama administration produced an FBI report that said mass shooting attacks and deaths were up sharply—by an average annual rate of about 16% between 2000 and 2013. Moreover, the problem was worsening. “The findings establish an increasing frequency of incidents,” said the authors. “During the first 7 years included in the study, an average of 6.4 incidents occurred annually. In the last 7 years of the study, that average increased to 16.4 incidents annually.”
The White House could not possibly have been more pleased with the media reaction to these findings, which were prominently featured by the New York Times, USA Today, CNN, the Washington Post and other major outlets. The FBI report landed six weeks before the midterm elections, and the administration was hoping that the gun-control issue would help drive Democratic turnout.
The author understates how far and wide this was spread:
New York Times: F.B.I. Confirms a Sharp Rise in Mass Shootings Since 2000
A report released by the F.B.I. on Wednesday confirmed what many Americans had feared but law enforcement officials had never documented: Mass shootings have risen drastically in the past half-dozen years.
NBC: Number of Mass Shootings on the Rise, Most at Schools: FBI Report
The number of shootings in which a gunman wounds or kills multiple people has increased dramatically in recent years, with the majority of attacks in the last decade occurring at a business or a school, according to an FBI report released Wednesday. The study focused on 160 “active shooter incidents” between 2000 and 2013. Those are typically defined as cases in which a gunman in an attack shoots or attempts to shoot people in a populated area. The goal of the report, which excluded shootings that are gang and drug related, was to compile accurate data about the attacks and to help local police prepare for or respond to similar killings in the future, federal law enforcement officials said.
Newsweek: Mass Shootings on the Rise, New FBI Study Shows
A new study released Wednesday by the FBI shows that mass shootings, or “active shooter incidents,” as the bureau calls them, are increasing in frequency.
The study tracked 160 shootings between 2000 and 2013. Between 2000 and 2007, an average of 6.4 incidents occurred annually, according to the study. That number more than doubled—to 16.4 incidents annually—between 2008 and 2013. “This trend reinforces the need to remain vigilant regarding prevention efforts,” the study said, “and for law enforcement to aggressively train to better respond to—and help communities recover from—active shooter incidents.”
WSJ wasn’t above the joining in the fray: Mass Shootings on the Rise, FBI Says | Data Show Average of 16.4 Active-Shooter Incidents a Year From 2006 to 2013
Mass shootings are happening more often, resulting in more deaths and usually ending before police get to the scene, according to a Federal Bureau of Investigation study released Wednesday.
Reason magazine was made an effort to point out that the media was getting the FBI report wrong:
To be fair, the authors of the FBI’s “active shooter” report explicitly cautioned their study was not about mass shootings, although this caveat was later ignored in much of the news media’s coverage of it.
The bulk of the article is directed towards destroying Mother Jones’ propaganda and didn’t address the widespread media misinformation.
The antigun supporters in mass media made sure to make hay while the sun was shining.
There was just one problem: The facts didn’t support the FBI report.
But late last week, J. Pete Blair and M. Hunter Martaindale, two academics at Texas State University who co-authored the FBI report, acknowledged that “our data is imperfect.” They said that the news media “got it wrong” last year when they “mistakenly reported mass shootings were on the rise.”
Mind you, the authors did not issue this mea culpa in the major news outlets that supposedly misreported the original findings. Instead, the authors published it in ACJS Today, an academic journal published by the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences. “Because official data did not contain the information we needed, we had to develop our own,” wrote Messrs. Blair and Martaindale. “This required choices between various options with various strengths and weaknesses.” You don’t say.
Surprisingly, VICE Magazine has written about this too, citing it as an example of media bullshit:
As noted recently by the Wall Street Journal and others, the authors of the study — Texas State University academics J. Pete Blair and M. Hunter Martaindale — have been forced to backpedal, acknowledging that their data was “imperfect” and asserting that the media coverage of their findings “got it wrong.”
In an ongoing exchange in ACJS Today, a regular publication of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences, Blair and Hunter have defended their work, but they still stand accused of playing fast and loose with the numbers for political ends. As others have since pointed out, going all the way back to 1970 — instead of just the narrow 2000-2013 timeframe used in the study — shows that there has been no significant increase in the rate of mass shootings.
Never fear though, the partisan hacks over at Media Matters are quick on the trigger to make sure that they can try to attack the character of the people going against the party line, by criticizing Lott without addressing any of the points he’s raised. This is par for the course with antigun activists – if you don’t like the message, shoot the messenger.
Charles W. Cooke’s words are ever so appropriate here:
But who cares, right? Black gun scary. NRA crazy. Shootings sad. Automatic, shmautomatic. The real question: Are you on the right side? No? Me good. You bad. Let’s not get bogged down in the facts.