In the American mind, there is an image of a mass shooting. They picture something like Uvalde or Parkland, where a deranged maniac grabs some kind of “assault weapon” like an AR-15 or other such firearm, walks into a place, and begins trying to kill people in job lots.
It’s part of why I take such issue with how people like the Gun Violence Archive manipulate things to make the problem seem even worse than it is.
Regardless, there’s a perception, which is part of why President Joe Biden will continue to get away with calling for an assault weapon ban after literally any shooting incident.
The perception continues, however. They’re generally a white male with a mental health issue, or so many of us believe. Then there’s the perception many have that these shootings are the result of lax gun laws such as permissive concealed carry measures.
Yet a new study shatters that mass shooting myth.
The national gun control debate focuses heavily on AR-15-style rifles, but handguns have been used in most mass public shootings over the past 25 years, according to myth-busting data from the Crime Prevention Research Center.
Shootings primarily took place in what the center said are supposed to be “gun-free zones” according to the law, and none of the shootings from 1998 to 2023 would have been stopped by requiring universal background checks, said John R. Lott Jr., the center’s founder and author of the report.
The study said Black and Middle Eastern shooters significantly outstrip their percentage of the population, and Hispanics are disproportionately victimized in the shootings.
Mr. Lott said his findings challenge other common narratives surrounding mass shootings, including who is shooting and who is getting shot.
His database shows that non-Hispanic Whites accounted for 55% of the shooters and 55% of victims, or about equal to their share of the total U.S. population in 2022.
Hispanics represented just 11% of shooters, a bit less than their share of the 2022 population, but accounted for 17% of victims. Black Americans were the opposite: 17% of shooters but just 10% of victims of mass public shootings.
Mr. Lott separated those of Middle Eastern origin — usually included as part of the White population — and said they constituted nearly 7% of shooters but less than 1% of victims.
Asian Americans accounted for about 8% of shooters and about 10% of victims.
Mr. Lott said those findings undercut the sense that mass shootings are frequently White supremacists shooting up minority-heavy locations.
To be clear, Lott doesn’t say most mass shooters aren’t white dudes. They are. The big shift, though, is that among public mass shooters, they’re only a slight majority.
Yes, I found that somewhat surprising.
The fact that most used handguns or that ethnicity doesn’t really seem to play as big of a role as many would like to believe isn’t.
The truth of the matter is that while you may have a shooting like Buffalo, Charleston, or Jacksonville, where the shooter was a piece of racist trash, you also have Parkland, Uvalde, Las Vegas, and so on where there’s nary a hint of racial animosity.
Of course, at the end of the day, a lot of people won’t pay a lick of attention to this data. They’ll continue pontificating on how AR-15s are the preferred weapon of the mass shooter, even if they’re not. They’ll say mass shooters are overwhelmingly white, racist men, even though they’re not. They’ll continue to perpetuate this myth of the mass shooting because it’s politically expedient.
Facts be damned. The narrative is all that matters.