US

New research debunks 'cherry-picked' pro-gun control study the mainstream media routinely cite

New research dunks pro-gun control study that former President Barack Obama once cited. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

One of the most prominent talking points gun control activists employ is their claim that mass public shootings don't happen in other countries with the frequency that they do in the United States. The claim was often repeated during the Obama administration, and continues to be parroted by the mainstream media.

"The one thing we do know is that we have a pattern now of mass shootings in this country that has no parallel anywhere else in the world," former President Barack Obama claimed after the mass killing in San Bernardino in Dec. 2015.

But new research debunks the study gun control advocates often cite. That study, published by criminologist Adam Lankford, claims the U.S. accounted for 31 percent of all public mass shootings between 1966 and 2012 in the world despite having less than 5 percent of the world's population.

What do the facts say?

John. R. Lott Jr., president of the Crime Prevention Research Center, released a comprehensive study last week debunking the myth that mass shootings are a uniquely American problem.

He discovered that, over a 15-year period from 1998-2012, the U.S. accounted for less than 3 percent of the world's public mass shootings and less than 2 percent of public mass shooters.

"By our count, the US makes up less than 1.43% of the mass public shooters, 2.11% of their murders, and 2.88% of their attacks. All these are much less than the US’s 4.6% share of the world population. Attacks in the US are not only less frequent than other countries, they are also much less deadly on average," the study found.

One of the biggest problems with Lankford's study, the CPRC alleges, is that Lankford was never honest about that data he included in his study, massively skewing its results.

From the CPRC:

Lankford’s study reported that from 1966 to 2012, there were 90 public mass shooters in the United States and 202 in the rest of world. We find that Lankford’s data represent a gross undercount of foreign attacks. Our list contains 1,448 attacks and at least 3,081 shooters outside the United States over just the last 15 years of the period that Lankford examined. We find at least fifteen times more mass public shooters than Lankford in less than a third the number of years.

Even when we use coding choices that are most charitable to Lankford, his 31 percent estimate of the US’s share of world mass public shooters is cut by over 95 percent.

Indeed, Lott wrote in the New York Post: "The whole episode should provide a cautionary tale of academic malpractice and how evidence is often cherry-picked and not questioned when it fits preconceived ideas."

How did Lankford respond?

He told multiple news outlets: "I am not interested in giving any serious thought to John Lott or his claims."

One last thing…
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