Over the last few days we’ve been learning a lot about the people behind ShootingTracker.com. It came from /r/GunsAreCool, a forum devoted expressly to the purpose of demonizing gun owners and advancing their anti-gun position, and is run by a man who admits that the site is pure propaganda. As if that’s not enough to tip you off to the fact that the numbers presented are completely bogus, one man has gone through the tracker to see what’s actually in there and if their work stands up to any form of scrutiny. The result? Even using Shooting Tracker’s own extremely loose definition of a “mass shooting” (four people shot, no matter their condition or the circumstances) the data simply doesn’t hold up. The following is a compilation of posts made by Reddit user /u/MrMember and is reprinted here with permission.
2013 – [Archived version of Shooting Tracker]
No citation and/or dead link unable to verify the story:
- 51 (no citation at all, citation listed points to a different shooting)
- 273 (no citation at all)
- 285 (no citation at all)
- 287 (no citation at all)
- 355 (no citation at all)
As for the articles with citations and working links, the following issues are present in the data and provide either misleading or patently false information.
This one lists one dead and four wounded in a mass shooting. Follow one of the links, however, and you’ll find that it is actually two separate incidents. The suspect shot two people at 1:10am on Jan 12. Later that day, around 11:55pm in an entirely separate incident, the suspect shot three people, killing one. Neither incident can be considered a mass shooting using GrC’s definition, and saying the entire day is considered one mass shooting is seriously stretching even their definition.
Two of the cited links are dead, but from the remaining one this simply isn’t a mass shooting. A boy was killed and his mother and another woman were hit by gunfire. I tried to find additional articles with more information but what I found confirmed what was in the first article. I don’t have any idea why the list states 1 killed and 4 wounded.
The cited source is dead but a Google search of the suspect’s name brings up this article. The suspect shot and killed two people, shot and injured the man trying to subdue him, and was then beaten into submission. Three people shot, not a mass shooting.
Follow the first citation and you’ll find that a total of four people were shot by the same man in two separate incidents that occurred a week apart. Again, seriously stretching GrC’s definition of a mass shooting.
Clearly whoever added this one just looked at the headline and didn’t bother to read the article. Two people shot, two other people injured while jumping through a window. Not a mass shooting.
Another one with dead links for citations, but a search of the suspect brings up this article. He killed four people in separate incidents over a two week period. Horrifying and incredibly sad, but not a mass shooting.
Another case of reading the title and not the article. No mass shooting occurred, the incidents were separate and unrelated.
This one is a mass shooting by GrC’s definition, but the number injured is wrong. The list states 5 injured, the article states 4.
Five bodies were found buried in the desert. According to the medical examiner some of them had broken bones that were likely the result of firearms and blunt-force injury. No conclusive evidence of a mass shooting here.
Another one with incorrect numbers listed. It should be one killed and three wounded.
One killed and two wounded. Not a mass shooting.
One killed two wounded, not a mass shooting.
Three people shot, one person stabbed. Not a mass shooting. Yet another case of reading the title and not the article.
I have no idea where they got the 12 injured number from. Following the cited links I only see two murders. If I am missing something on this one let me know, otherwise it does not look like a mass shooting.
Three shot one stabbed, not a mass shooting.
Two separate incidents that weren’t confirmed to be related, not a mass shooting.
The suspect killed four people over eleven days. Another one that stretches the definition of mass shooting.
This one appears to be several separate incidents spread over a week that have all been added together. Stretching, definition, etc.
Read the article and not just the title ya dingus. Unrelated incidents.
The three victims – two males, ages 14 and 15, and a 17-year-old girl – were taken to Sparrow Hospital and treated for non-life threatening injuries, Lansing police said during a press conference. A fourth victim came to the hospital with a gunshot wound but it is unclear whether he is connected to the shooting.
Three people shot, one woman killed after she was ejected from her car. Not a mass shooting.
Three people shot, one person suffered a cut wound. Not a mass shooting.
Three people shot, one person struck by a car while fleeing. Not a mass shooting.
Three people were shot, the shooter was subdued. Not a mass shooting.
Three people shot, another man crashed his motorcycle trying to leave. Not a mass shooting.
“It is unknown at this time, since this case is all still under investigation, whether that shooting is related to the shootings on Shelby Avenue or whether the victim who went to Hardin Memorial came from a different shooting altogether,” Shumate said. Insufficient evidence to determine if it was a mass shooting.
Three people shot one person was run over. Not a mass shooting.
2014 – [Archived version of Shooting Tracker]
No citation and/or dead link unable to verify the story:
- 70 (no citation at all, cited link points to a different shooting)
I also found more incidents on this list that either had incorrect numbers, weren’t mass shootings at all, or played pretty fast and loose with GrC’s definition of a mass shooting.
Questionable as a mass shooting, as there were two separate incidents one day apart .
The number of injured listed (5) is incorrect. One person injured suffered a gunshot wound to the foot, the other four were not shot but injured in the chaos .
Felton said as of Sunday morning, police are unsure if all five victims are related to the same shooting . Not confirmed as a mass shooting.
The injury total is incorrect, it should be 4 instead of 7 .
Culpepper said two people are dead and two people are critically injured. It’s not clear if the victims suffered their injuries through the car crash or from the gunfire. Cannot be confirmed as a mass shooting.
The injuries in this one were from an explosion, not gunfire. No officers were shot. Not a mass shooting.
The shootings in this one were spread out over a five day period, stretching the definition of a mass shooting.
A bullet also flew through the window of an unmarked police van in the area, shattering glass onto a detective who was inside at the time, the NYPD said. The detective was taken to the hospital with minor injuries, police said. Three people shot, not a mass shooting.
Authorities didn’t say how the four were killed. Autopsies being conducted Thursday will determine the cause of death, Soares said. Not confirmed as a mass shooting.
Three people shot, not a mass shooting.
2015 – [Archived version of Shooting Tracker]
I didn’t find as many issues in 2015 as I did in the previous two years, but it also wasn’t error free. The following shootings, referenced by their number in the list, could not be verfied. Most of the citations pointed to dead links and one did not have a citation at all.
- 124 (no citation at all, link points to a different shooting)
The following incidents either weren’t mass shootings or could not be confirmed to be mass shootings due to lack of information.
Three men were shot, the rest suffered injuries unrelated to the shooting. Not a mass shooting.
Three people shot, one person injured but with no bullet wounds. Not a mass shooting.
This is an interesting one, but definitely not a mass shooting. One person confirmed shot. One cop shot with a stun gun (do stun guns count in mass shootings?). One cop had cuts on his face. One woman with minor injuries (no mention of gunshot wounds).
This one is a bit of a mess and I’m including it because it isn’t clear at all how many people were actually shot. The article clearly states that two people were shot and another person was beaten and stabbed, but it doesn’t state the nature of the other injuries or the death. This one cannot be confirmed as a mass shooting.
This one does not appear to be a mass shooting. The suspect shot two men, shot at a women but did not hit her, bludgeoned another man, shot another man who then crashed into a wall, then tried to get into another woman’s car before he was apprehended. All told three people were shot.
And finally some stats. Of the 996 total incidents listed on the mass shooting tracker:
54 could not be verified due to the lack of citations
34 were either not mass shootings or could not be confirmed as mass shootings due to the lack of information
7 stretched the definition of a mass shooting, with one person committing separate shootings anywhere from one day to two weeks apart
4 were mass shootings according to the shooting tracker’s definition but the listed number of victims was incorrect
1 was a ‘mass shooting’ committed with a pellet gun
Back to my own words now. It’s pretty clear that the Shooting Tracker website isn’t even close to accurate. Even if we accept their premise that four people wounded equals a “mass shooting” it’s still plain to see that the website is not even consistent with its own rules. They include events line #95 in 2013 where the numbers from separate incidents were combined to make it seem like a bigger event. Or #150 from 2014 where the injuries are from a car accident and not even firearms related. For anyone who actually cares about getting facts right and presenting useful information sot hat the public can make an informed decision about current events it might be a good idea to stay well clear of this website. Or, if you only care about pushing an agenda and don’t mind presenting a propaganda piece as factual evidence, feel free to keep using this site.