Conservative media are praising actor Vince Vaughn for repeating a debunked right-wing talking point that falsely claims most mass shootings occur in “gun-free zones.”
Vaughn is receiving widespread attention for an interview he gave to British GQ in which he advocated the carrying of guns in public and in schools, declared that the purpose of the Second Amendment is to defend against an “abusive government,” and claimed that mass shootings have “only happened in places that don't allow guns.”
According to Vaughn:
All these gun shootings that have gone down in America since 1950, only one or maybe two have happened in non-gun-free zones. Take mass shootings. They've only happened in places that don't allow guns. These people are sick in the head and are going to kill innocent people. They are looking to slaughter defenceless human beings. They do not want confrontation. In all of our schools it is illegal to have guns on campus, so again and again these guys go and shoot up these f***ing schools because they know there are no guns there. They are monsters killing six-year-olds.
Vaughn's claim, which suggests that possibly none but at most two mass shootings since 1950 have happened in a place where guns were allowed, is a variation on a claim about public mass shootings over the last half-century that was first made by discredited gun researcher John Lott.
Lott's claim that just one public mass shooting since 1950 has occurred where guns could be carried by civilians is false. In fact, since 2009 at least 18 public mass shootings have occurred where guns are permitted. According to an analysis of mass shootings between January 2009 and July 2014 conducted by Everytown for Gun Safety, “Of the 33 [shooting] incidents in public spaces, at least 18 took place wholly or in part where concealed guns could be lawfully carried.”
And to Vaughn's broader claim about all mass shootings, Everytown found that 77 of 110 mass shootings occurred inside private residences, meaning that no more than 14 percent of mass shootings in the time period studied occurred in so-called “gun-free zones.”
Furthermore, an analysis by Mother Jones of 62 public mass shootings found that none were stopped by civilians carrying concealed guns and that in no cases was there evidence that the perpetrator picked a location because guns could or could not be carried there.
Even though Vaughn's claim about “gun-free zones” is inaccurate, it was trumpeted by conservative media outlets, including Breitbart.com, The Federalist, HotAir.com, Reason, The Blaze, Truth Revolt, and National Review Online. Other outlets uncritically repeated Vaughn's claim about “gun-free zones” without noting that it is false, including Politico, which paraphrased Vaughn as stating that “mass shootings have generally happened only in places where guns are not allowed.”