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December 7, 2015

The Sensational Mass Shootings Index

CNN’s favorite “Mass Shooting Index” is designed to terrorize you Retweet

@DownsizeDC We must reveal what the media hides.

Today’s editorial, by Jim Babka, is designed to be sent to your “representatives” in Congress. You are encouraged to copy and paste this op-ed…

You’ve probably heard that San Bernardino was the 355th mass shooting of 2015.

People are being led to believe there’s a growing and frightening risk that they or someone they love will be caught in an incident like this. You need to know the rest of the story…

The most often used mass shootings number has a specific meaning. It means at least four people are struck, even grazed, by gunfire. That definition includes domestic and gang violence.

The current mass shootings figure is based on media reports, which are not necessarily reliable. Police reports would be better. And…

Merely saying there have been 355 mass shootings tell us nothing about the number of shots, shooters, or degree of injury. But the figures are available. In 42% of the incidents, there were zero deaths. One person died in roughly 29% of the incidents, while another 29% involved two or more deaths.

Now, if you revise the definition to five or more deaths due to gunfire, the number of mass shootings declines to 15. That statistic wouldn’t make it to a segment on CNN or The Daily Show.

These higher-number mass shooting statistics, favored by groups like the Brady campaign, omit crucial context. Admittedly, providing this context would be complicated. It would also counter their goal, which is to sensationalize. But…

  • How many of these incidents happened in “gun free” zones?
  • How many were domestic violence?
  • How many were gang violence?
  • How many were part of a robbery?

There are methods to reduce your exposure to each of these circumstances, so that the odds of being caught in a multiple shooting event plummets.

Nevertheless, the idea that the royal “We” should “DO SOMETHING,” always involves some kind of prohibition scheme. Two things should be said about this…

First, there’s a values question — a trade-off really. In November alone, there were eight media reports about citizens using firearms to thwart predators. Stories like this are VERY hard to come by because most are unreported. Plus, no one is actually shot in most instances. Even the criminal instigator tends to get out alive. Headlines don’t usually read, “No one was harmed today.”

Should people who use firearms to prevent violence, or to save lives, be prohibited from doing so, with the mere hope that criminals will also lose their access to guns?

Second, the study claiming that there are 355 mass shootings does not analyze the legality of the gun acquisition involved. Which of the gun grabber’s favorite gambits would’ve prevented each instance? When you dig down into the examples, especially the most sensational ones that make the news, you find that none of the new rules would’ve prevented most of them. This can be said about…

  • Newtown
  • Aurora
  • Columbine
  • Fort Hood

The only apparent exception is Dylan Root, who entered a church in South Carolina and murdered nine people. But the system actually broke down in that instance. Root acquired his weapons legally, so that adding-in a new, universal background check system — the top item on the gun grabber’s wish list — would not have prevented this instance.

The mass shooting statistic is used to sensationalize. Sensationalization promotes fear. Politicians use hysteria to enact prohibition schemes. That would be a misuse of the data. We can actually learn from it.

If you’re not a gang member nor in an abusive relationship, if you have a home security system, and you steer away from gun free zones, then you and your loved the ones are far less likely to be a statistic.

Honestly, avoiding gun free zones is the largest hurdle, because we’re so often drawn into these spaces to conduct necessary work. Perhaps there is a political solution. So many of the gun free zones are drawn by law, including all government property. We can all agree that 355 mass shootings is too many. Politicians should simply end these victim-ready zones.

Meanwhile, the rest of us should try to persuade business owners to get rid of their useless “no guns allowed” signs.


There’s real power in sharing. Take these two sharing Actions…

  1. Send this editorial to Congress using’s Educate the Powerful System.
  2. Post this message to Facebook or Google+. In that post, ASK them to send a letter to their “representatives.”

Every person who joins Downsize DC isn’t just another “letter sender.” In fact, letter sending is almost beside the point, for now. Numbers matter, and more letter senders have more power together. Your voice is magnified when others join you. So, share on social media. And if that’s not for you…

Then please find a way a way to share this message with others who will like it in whatever fashion suits you.

Thank you for being a DC Downsizer,

Jim Babka

President, Inc.

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