Incendiary Images of the Day: Spree Killing Data from Mother Jones

Back in the day (September), Mother Jones magazine marked the “spate” of mass murder and spree killing with a data dive. In the wake of the Clackamas killing, a reader brought the article to our attention. And so we bring it to yours. To start, note the Illinois and California clusters in the map above—which tell you something about the states’ strict gun laws. Or . . . nothing much, really. Needless to say, MJ drills down deeper to create some at-a-glance carnage analysis designed to lead readers to the obvious conclusion: something must be done! Equally obvious: that’s not the way I read it . . .

As always, it’s important to consider the absolute numbers rather than just scan the percentages. In the image above, we’re looking at 49 spree killers obtaining weapons legally out of Mother Jone’s own estimate of some 300M+ firearms in private hands [see: unattributed graphic below]. Even if we assume that the total population of guns is spread over 150 million gun owners, or a 100m, or a million, those 49 sales to unhinged individuals still represent a rounding error.

While gun control advocates will see MJ’s madman gun derivation stat as a reason to tighten firearms purchase and possession laws, you could also use the data to suggest that A) gun laws are working (given these relatively small numbers) and B) if the current laws don’t prevent mass murder/spree killers from accessing guns legally, how would new ones increase their effectiveness?

Wouldn’t spree killers thwarted by background checks (as if) simply obtain guns illegally, as hundreds of thousands of criminals do? Common sense says a madman’s gotta be mad. In a country awash with guns (yay us) psycho killers will find a way to tool-up.

The public “gets it.” Hence the increase in applications for concealed carry (and guns sales generally) in areas where there’s been a spree killing.

But that’s not how this game is played. At least not by the gun control industry—which has to work hard to avoid contemplating the dysfunctional relationship between gun laws and firearms-related crime. For example . . .

Look at the total numbers: Semiautomatic handguns (67), Assault weapons (35), Revolvers (20) and Shotguns (17). One hundred-thirty-nine firearms out of 300m+. Relatively speaking, why would anyone call for an assault weapons ban given the rifle’s relatively minor role in mass shootings?

Never mind. Amidst the Mother Jones FUD [click here to read More Guns, More Mass Shootings—Coincidence?] a single sentence stands out, like a beacon of truth in a sea of misdirection:

But while access to weapons is a crucial consideration for stemming the violence, stricter gun laws are no silver bullet.


[h/t Craig M.]