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How Media Misinformation About Mass Murderers is Harming Us

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Having failed for decades to induce the voting public to back its draconian and unconstitutional agenda, the American gun-control movement has hit upon a pernicious alternative to persuasion and political argument: Fear.

To accomplish their goals of more gun bans and restrictions, gun-control groups are now focused on trying to convince Americans of things that are simply not true. Many in the mainstream media are helping them do this by printing their disinformation with few questions asked.

Thus, it has to come pass that many voters believe the number of crimes committed with firearms has risen over the last 30 years; they believe this even though, in fact, the number has fallen dramatically. This overall decline has occurred as the number of guns in private hands has more than doubled, as the number of concealed carriers has risen to around 20 million and as the laws governing the sale, ownership and use of firearms have been loosened almost everywhere.

Thus, many voters falsely believe that America’s schools were more dangerous in 2019 than they were in 1999, even though the opposite is the case.

Plus, many voters now think mass shootings—which, although devastating, remain mercifully rare—are happening every single day in the United States.

This lattermost lie—that mass shootings are ubiquitous rather than unusual—has gained particular currency since the launch, in 2013, of a shameless propaganda outlet named the “Gun Violence Archive” (GVA). The purpose of this so-called archive is to massively overstate the number of mass shootings and to launder that overstatement through media outlets that favor more gun-control laws.

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Unfortunately, the GVA has been somewhat successful in its aim—that success has had disastrous consequences not only for the public’s conception of reality but also for public policy. On the basis of the GVA’s preposterous numbers, the press has been busy convincing children and parents that America’s public schools resemble the O.K. Corral; the mainstream media pushes this narrative even though, in fact, the U.S. is more peaceful than it has been in living memory.

To understand the extraordinary scale of the GVA’s dishonesty, consider that, for the year 2015, it counted 335 mass shootings. The FBI, in contrast, counted six that year. The open-source index kept by the left-leaning Mother Jones magazine counted just seven (and they counted the San Bernardino terrorist attack). As Mark Follman noted in The New York Times in 2015, the number of mass shootings since 1982 was then 73—which means that, by his count, there had been five times fewer incidents over the preceding 33 years than the GVA was claiming had occurred in a single year. In the U.S., a person is about as likely to die in a mass shooting as to be struck by lightning, but one would not know this from listening to the press.

The GVA arrives at its bloated figures by conflating a whole host of different sorts of crimes and pushing them into the same category, which not only gives Americans a false sense of reality—one does not think about a gang fight between criminals being a “mass shooting”—but also makes it much harder to construct countermeasures.

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Clearly, not all violence is the same, which is why fighting gangs requires a different approach than does reducing domestic violence; also, preventing robberies necessitates a different set of legal tools than inhibiting terrorism.

By pretending that the rarest and most intractable problem in the U.S. is representative of all the others, the GVA and the mainstream media aren’t helping to solve the problem, but are, in fact, getting in the way. They aren’t just misinforming the public, but are actually hindering a
rational search for solutions.

Article by Charles C.W. Cooke

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