Discredited Gun Researcher John Lott Invents Claim To Attack FBI Report On Active Shooter Incidents

Discredited gun researcher John Lott attacked a recent FBI report on active shooter events by suggesting the report called some incidents where no one died “mass killings.” In fact the report clearly states, “This is not a study of mass killings or mass shootings,” but a rather report on “active shooter incidents” in the U.S.

In September, the FBI released a report on the 160 active shooter incidents that occurred between 2000 and 2013. The report found that during the 13 year period, 1,043 people were killed (486) or wounded (557) in active shooter incidents and the number of such incidents is increasing:

According to the FBI, “The agreed-upon definition of an active shooter by U.S. government agencies -- including the White House, U.S. Department of Justice/FBI, U.S. Department of Education, and U.S. Department of Homeland Security/Federal Emergency Management Agency -- is 'an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area.'”

In an October 12 The New York Post column, Lott called the report “bogus,” and wrote that the FBI was being “used to promote a political agenda” to “scare Americans into supporting an agenda.”

According to Lott, the report is flawed because it suggests that incidents in which no one was killed were counted by the FBI as “mass killings”:

While the FBI study discusses “mass shootings or killings,” its graphs were filled with cases that had nothing to do with mass killings. Of the 160 cases it counted, 32 involved a gun being fired without anyone being killed. Another 35 cases involved a single murder.

It's hard to see how the FBI can count these incidents, which make up 42 percent of its 160 cases, as “mass killings.” They plainly don't fit the FBI's old definition, which required four or more murders, nor even its new one of at least three murders.

But the purpose of the report was to detail active shooter events in the United States regardless of casualties, not “mass killings or mass shootings.” From the report (emphasis added):

This is not a study of mass killings or mass shootings, but rather a study of a specific type of shooting situation law enforcement and the public may face. Incidents identified in this study do not encompass all gun-related situations; therefore caution should be taken when using this information without placing it in context. Specifically, shootings that resulted from gang or drug violence--pervasive, long-tracked, criminal acts that could also affect the public--were not included in this study. In addition, other gun-related shootings were not included when those incidents appeared generally not to have put others in peril (e.g., the accidental discharge of a firearm in a school building or a person who chose to publicly commit suicide in a parking lot). The study does not encompass all mass killings or shootings in public places and therefore is limited in its scope. Nonetheless, it was undertaken to provide clarity and data of value to both law enforcement and citizens as they seek to stop these threats and save lives during active shooter incidents.

Lott's research on gun issues have also been discredited, including his debunked “more guns, less crime” theory, that has been criticized by experts. Lott has also faced accusations of data manipulation and fabrication in order to advance a pro-gun agenda.