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What the WaPo's mass shooting numbers won't tell you about murders in America

Conservative Review

The Washington Post's Sunday edition printed the name of every mass shooting victim since 1966 in the special section. While the number of victims is meant to be staggering, just a little context changes the big picture.

In a section titled "The Lives Lost," the newspaper listed 1,196 names of shooting victims along with some descriptions of the shootings and photos of the over 400 people killed between the Sandy Hook massacre and the recent mass killing in Dayton Ohio.

"Eleven hundred ninety-six. That’s the number of names on this page," a tweet from the paper's Twitter account reads. "People who were doing ordinary things until they were shot to death by killers bent on mass fatalities."

“This is a moment to reflect on the horrific human toll of mass shootings in our country and to remember the individuals whose lives were cut short," said Washington Post executive editor Marty Baron.

While not stated, the gun control message here is fairly implicit. One wonders, when presented with 12 pages of printed names of those murdered, how a country can't just "do something" about horrors like this. That's how the anti-gun Brady Campaign publicly reacted.

But that number tells only part of a story.

1,196 is considerably lower than 1,692, which is the total number of people shot just in Chicago — where draconian gun control clearly isn't doing the job it was intended to do — this year as of Monday, according to data compiled by the Chicago Tribune.

According to FBI statistics, there were 1,591 homicides committed with knives or sharp objects in 2017, which is almost 400 more than over 50 years of mass shootings. And that was a decrease from 2016.

The total number of homicides since 1966 is just south of 1 million, according to CR senior editor Daniel Horowitz's calculation. That means that the 1,196 deaths equal one tenth of a percent of total homicide numbers.

Furthermore, the violent crime rate has dropped in recent decades as the number of guns and concealed carry permits have gone up.

These 1,196 lives should never have been cut short. Their families and communities should never have been torn apart. The taking of innocent life is always atrocious, regardless of the circumstances.

But hard cases make bad law, the legal maxim goes, and even though that statistic by itself may spur some to reiterate calls to disarm their law-abiding fellow citizens, a more comprehensive look at the numbers won't back them up.

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