Editor of Czech Television in the main news block on 26/10/2023 in the segment Mass shootings in the US stated: “For this year, American authorities have reported over 560 cases of mass shootings.” Is this statement true?
Did they shoot a hundred or ten times?
Czech Television did not provide a source for its claim, so it is not clear what data it drew on. However, the number of 560 incidents is completely outside the known official statistics, and is therefore certainly worth paying attention to.
For example, on the same day, an article was published on the website actuálně.cz, according to which only five (5) mass shootings were recorded in the USA this year. If a website known for disseminating disinformation against civilian gun ownership (e.g. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5) states a hundred times (100x) lower number than Czech Television, it really hits home.
In the article, Aktuálně.cz refers to the data of the non-profit organization at the Hamlin University Violence Project. She watches the situation”Mass public shooting” (mass shootings in public) as defined by the Congressional Research Service. Considering its position, this can be considered an “official definition”. These are the cases (p. 10):
multiple homicide incidents in which four or more victims (other than the perpetrator) were murdered with a firearm in a single incident, with at least some of the murders occurring in a public place or in close local proximity (for example, a workplace, school, restaurant, or other public place ), and the murders are not attributable to other criminal activity or the usual circumstances (armed robbery, criminal duel, insurance fraud, quarrel or romantic triangle).
Another statistic that can be said to come from “American authorities” concerns active shooters according to FBI yearbooks (2022). Last year, the FBI reported 50 such incidents (i.e. 10 times less than CT), while the definition reads as follows:
one or more persons who are actively involved in killing or attempting to kill persons in a populated area, using a firearm, cases of self-defense, gang and other criminal violence or violence between relatives are excluded.
560 mass shootings
So where did Czech Television get its figure of 560 mass shootings? A clue is provided by the previous segment on the active shooter attack in Maine, which at 3:27 is quoted by a representative of civil rights lobbying organization Brady’s Campaign as saying in a press release that “more than 500” situation this year. Otherwise, Brady’s is more similar on the web mass shootings does not dedicate
Probably the only organization that keeps such high statistics is Gun Violence Archive. Even CNN, otherwise known for its anti-gun focus, published an article about the controversy of the GVA statistics. GVA is based on the following definition for mass shooting:
situations where four or more people, other than the shooter, have been shot or killed. GVA does not remove any subcategory of shooting from the definition.
In doing so, it is essential that:
- GVA is not a value-neutral organization. Its co-founder Mark Bryant has spoken out in the past in favor of restricting civilian gun ownership.
- The given definition deviates from the definitions used by the authorities. This puts GVA at numbers 100x higher than the Congressional Research Service and 10x higher than the FBI (here’s an overview), see above.
- Much of the GVA statistic is associated with other criminal violence. If Czech Television talks about 560 “mass shootings“, viewers certainly do not associate with it, for example, a shootout between members of drug gangs.
- Apart from these caveats, the GVA statistic seems to fit their self-proclaimed definition.
Czech Television did not identify which “American authorities” are supposed to be the source of the number of over 560 mass shootings since the beginning of the year. I could not find any office that kept statistics with a similar number. Both the Congressional Research Service and the FBI keep statistics with an order of magnitude lower number of incidents.
The source that reports such a high number of incidents is a non-profit organization Gun Violence Archive, which can be considered generally anti-weapon. It cannot be ruled out that some politicians have sometimes referred to him on a politicized level, but that does not make him a source equal to the American authorities.
The statement quoted in the introduction therefore represents disinformation on the part of Czech Television, on several levels:
- All indications are that it is not the data”US authorities“.
- The definition from which the source statistics are based is far from the generally accepted definitions (including the definitions used by Congress and the FBI) and is considered controversial, which CT should have pointed out.
- The controversy surrounding the definition is underscored by the fact that its source is not value-neutral.