Dr. John Lott: “The FBI made a number of subtle and misleading decisions as well as outright errors.”
Dr, John Lott, head of the Crime Prevention Research Center and long-time researcher and perhaps best known as the author of the seminal book, “More Guns, Less Crime,” has taken a thorough look at a recent report issued by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and found it severely flawed.
The report, entitled “A Study of Active Shooter Incidents in the United States Between 2000 and 2013,” (embedded below) purports to show that “mass shootings” have increased at an average annual rate of more than 16% over that time period. Dr. Lott demonstrates that this figure can be arrived at only by a tortuous methodology that is rational only if showing a large increase in “mass shooting” is the actual goal of the report.
Sadly, we live in an era in which “science” is routinely twisted in pursuit of purely political ends, and it appears that the authors of this FBI report may have adopted this approach.
Dr. Lott’s formal analysis is embedded under the FBI report below, I do encourage you to read the whole thing. As a taste, the paper’s abstract reads:
An FBI report released on September 16th, 2014 makes the assertion that active shooter attacks and deaths have increased dramatically since 2000 – both increasing at an annual rate of about 16 percent. As the headline in the Wall Street Journal stated: “Mass Shootings on the Rise, FBI says.”
But the FBI made a number of subtle and misleading decisions as well as outright errors. Once these biases and mistakes are fixed, the annual growth rate in homicides is cut in half. When a longer period of time is examined (1977 through the first half of 2014), deaths from Mass Public Shootings show only a slight, statistically insignificant, increase – an annual increase of less than one percent.
The FBI’s misleadingly includes cases that aren’t mass shootings – cases where no one or only one person was killed in a public place. While the FBI assures people that it “captured the vast majority of incidents falling within the search criteria,” their report missed 20 shootings where at least two people were killed in a public place. Most of these missing cases took place early on, biasing their results towards showing an increase.
As always, Dr. Lott’s analysis is good stuff: detailed, comprehensive, direct, and written in plain English for those of us whose last statistics class was a couple of decades ago.
Here’s the embed of the FBI report:
And here’s the embed of the CPRC analysis:
Andrew F. Branca is an MA lawyer and the author of the seminal book “The Law of Self Defense, 2nd Edition,” available at the Law of Self Defense blog (autographed copies available) and Amazon.com (paperback and Kindle). He also holds Law of Self Defense Seminars around the country, and provides free online self-defense law video lectures at the Law of Self Defense Institute and podcasts through iTunes, Stitcher, and elsewhere.DONATE
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