What is a mass shooting?

I had posted this article to social media. The idea: the mass shooters are basically rage filled…ordinary people.

In response a conservative friend posted this meme:

Now a couple of my liberal friends objected. Via snopes:

The meme was first posted on Aug. 5 to the /pol/ (“Politically Incorrect”) section of the website 4chan, which is notorious as a forum for far-right and white nationalist imagery, tropes and discussion threads. It was entitled “Mass Shooters 2019” and bore the sub-heading “Every person charged with or arrested for shooting 4+ people in a single incident.” Underneath that was a collage of 98 portrait photographs, many of them prison mugshots.

A large portion of the individuals shown in the collage appeared to be non-white, prompting its further promulgation on other online forums, including the website of former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke. The meme prompted much racist and white supremacist commentary. […]

Our relatively brief overview of the alleged shooters included in the August 2019 meme indicates that it was broadly fairly accurate. It contained a few errors, but was faithful overall to its own criteria.

The primary problem with the chart was that it was based on a relatively broad definition of “mass shooting” which, while valid in and of itself, should not be confused with the much more narrow definition implicitly at work in many conversations about “mass shootings” — that is, incidents in which an attacker with no links to terrorism, criminal gangs, or organized crime goes out into a public area and fatally shoots multiple people.

From a law enforcement and criminological point of view, defining a “mass shooting” in this relatively narrow way helps to establish clear parameters in terms of the nature and causes of such attacks, as well as the motivations of the attackers and any patterns in the identities of their victims.

By contrast, gang-related shootings, for example, even if they cross a numerical threshold for victims, have relatively well-studied and straightforward causes and motivations, as well as a much more familiar victimology. Hence, agencies such as the FBI deliberately exclude them from their study of, and operations against, “active shooter incidents.”

There is much more at the Snopes article, including which studies count what.

In terms of type of crime, a shoot out between organized crime groups or a vigilante retaliation is somewhat different than someone going to a public place and shooting people either at random or going to a place to target them specifically because of their race, sex or religion..or “ethnicity.”

So yes, the types of crimes ARE different, at least in terms of how to prevent them.

BUT in terms of “you need a gun that can kill efficiently”, well, they are the same sort of thing. So, in terms of gun control, this is fine.

And the grief of the loved ones of the victims is the same. And, in terms of the (likely) victims, well, perhaps there is a point different than the one intended. The lives of ALL victims matter, and it must be horrible to not feel safe in your own neighborhood.

Yes, I am not naive as far as the (likely) intent of the meme. But I think it makes a good point nevertheless, even if it does so unintentionally.

Extra note on gun violence and mass shootings:

He does make a valid point..when it comes to risk assessment. Someone asked me if I felt comfortable going to NFL games and the answer is “yes”: I am more likely to die in the drive to or from the game than I am to get killed in a mass shooting at a game. AS A RISK, mass shootings are not a statistically significant killer of people.

Of course that does NOT mean that we ought to do nothing about them; I would prefer us to regulate AR-15, AK-47 type weapons the way we do machine guns. So I am not indifferent to the damage these shootings do to our public psyche.

But in terms of “keeping us safe”, Tyson’s tweet reminds me of this old post by Bruce Schneier. Highly recommended; this was posted in 2012.