Some Facts About Gun Ownership In The United States #3: “Mass Shootings”

We have been looking into facts about gun ownership and homicide in the United States.

August 4, 2019: Some Facts About Gun Ownership In The United States
August 10, 2019: Some Facts About Gun Ownership In The United States #2: Rifles and Pistols

From this, we have found that, despite the fact that an enormous number of Americans (about 43% of all households) own legal firearms, this has generally not been a problem. There is a strong racial component to firearm homicide: about 54% of all homicides are by blacks, and another 19% by Hispanics. Based on recent FBI data, I estimated that the homicide offender rate among non-Hispanic Whites was 2.1; Hispanics 5.5; and Blacks 21.4 (per 100,000). About 91% of these homicides involved pistols; and the firearms used were illegally obtained in perhaps 90%+ of situations. We can see that legally-owned rifles and shotguns, especially those owned by non-Hispanic Whites, account for a minuscule portion of homicides. In any case, the homicide rate in the United States has fallen to about the lowest in a hundred years, which certainly does not support any claims of an “epidemic of gun violence.” If we did want to reduce the rate of homicide in the U.S. — a very good thing to do, it seems to me — we should do the sorts of things that New York did in the 1990s. Today, New York City (25.1% Black, 27.5% Hispanic) is not in the top 20 U.S. cities for its homicide rate, although neighboring Newark, New Jersey is.

In fact, New York City’s recent homicide rate, of 3.4 per 100,000, is lower than the U.S. as a whole! It is now safer to be in New York than it is to be outside of New York.

Let’s take a moment here to appreciate that nobody seems to talk about this. It’s not really the sort of thing you would learn by reading one of the New York Times‘ endless “epidemic of gun violence” stories.

(It is true that New York City has city-specific gun control laws. This is the Sullivan Act, passed in 1911. It was intended, by its backers, to create a premise by which New York’s crooked politicians could attack political opponents. In any case, the rise and later decline in New York City’s homicide rates all took place with the Sullivan Law in place.)

Nevertheless, all the attention these days is toward “mass shootings.” Let’s look at some more data. The definition of a “mass shooting” varies. This dataset from Mother Jones, which excludes events related to drugs and gangs, is well regarded:

Here is some updated data:

And of course, shootings at schools (includes all, not just “mass”):

Basically, the numbers here are very low. We see many years where the total fatalities to these “mass shootings” averages perhaps around 20. This compares to 17,251 homicides in 2017, itself one of the lowest rates in the last century of U.S. history. The number of fatalities due to mass shootings has risen in recent years, but that apparently has little to do with “gun culture” etc., since that has remained unchanged throughout. Also, it involves just a few incidents with a high number of fatalities (such as Las Vegas 2017, which had 58 fatalities).

Against this, we can compare deaths from:

Prescription medicines correctly prescribed and taken as directed: 128,000
Poisoning (including drug overdose): 64,795
Motor vehicles: 40,231
Falls: 36,338
Suffocation by ingestion and inhalation: 5,216
Drowning: 3,709
Fires, flames, smoke: 2,812
Mechanical suffocation: 1,730
Natural heat and cold: 1,269
Struck by, against: 806
Cycling: 777
Machinery: 572

Most of these incidents (66%) involved pistols. So-called “assault weapons” were used in 14% of incidents. From this alone we have to ask: how many of these incidents could be prevented by banning “assault weapons”? 14%? Couldn’t the offender just obtain an “assault weapon” illegally (as is the case in perhaps 90%+ of homicides involving firearms), or use a pistol?

To summarize, “mass shooting” events account for a very small — until recent years, a very, very, very small — portion of all homicide. Even of this very small subset, “assault weapons” account for a rather small portion, with most of the incidents involving pistols, just as is the case for firearm homicide as a whole. Whatever reasons may be behind the rise in these “mass shooting” events in recent years, it does not have much to do with the legal ownership of firearms, especially rifles, which hasn’t changed much. In any case, you would think that a criminal that intends a mass shooting incident (a very big crime) would not have too much difficulty obtaining an illegal firearm (a rather small crime), especially since that is the pattern among about 90% of firearm homicides already.

If you really wanted to do something about firearm homicides in the U.S., you would do something about drugs and gangs, particularly in Black and Hispanic neighborhoods. This would probably be part of a program of crime prevention as a whole, such as the successful reduction in crime rates in New York City during the 1990s and 2000s during the Giuliani administration. Most Blacks and Hispanics are not criminals, and would probably be very happy if there was less crime in the places they lived. If you include drug- and gang-related incidents, you get a large number of “mass shootings,” which appears from time to time among some arguments. Not surprisingly, the suspects involved in these drug and gang-related incidents mirror the pattern of homicide as a whole, with a heavy bias toward Blacks and Hispanics.

Against this, we might consider the effects of legal gun ownership in preventing mass shooting events. Rather than statistics, I will just present this old news item:

Yes, students and teachers both used to bring rifles to school in those days (commonly kept in the car) and … it was fine. We are Americans. We know how to do this.

According to some counts, 98% of “mass shootings” take place in gun-free zones.

You would have to be of subaverage intelligence not to notice a certain pattern in these “mass shooting” events, how they are portrayed in the media, and the calls for certain legislative action that follow immediately after. Since most Americans are of average intelligence or higher, I think that tens of millions of Americans suspect that there is something very fishy going on. There seems to be a clear agenda to promote the ideas that:

  1. There is an “epidemic of gun violence.” (Actual homicide rates are among the lowest of the last century).
  2. “Mass shootings” constitute a major portion of this “epidemic.” (Mass shootings account for a minuscule portion of firearm homicide, but they are sure promoted heavily in the media.)
  3. This “epidemic” mostly involves white men with rifles. (Nearly all firearm homicide involves illegal pistols, mostly used by Blacks and Hispanics).
  4. In particular, these white men are using “assault weapons” purchased legally. (Legally-acquired “assault weapons” account for a tiny fraction of firearm homicide, and even a small fraction of “mass shootings.” Shotguns were more commonly used in “mass shootings” than “assault weapons.”)
  5. Therefore, we need to ban “assault weapons,” and “high capacity magazines,” likely the leading edge of a broader ban against a variety of firearms. (Where high-capacity magazines are used, they are usually used with pistols.)

So, what is this agenda about?

The fact of the matter is, tactical-style semiautomatic rifles (“assault weapons”) are not very good for crime, including mass shootings. That is probably why pistols are used in 90%+ of homicides, and 66% of mass shooting events. (The definition of “assault weapons” can be rather plastic. Pistols with “large capacity” magazines, such as the Glock 17, may qualify, along with semiautomatic shotguns.) But, they are very good for military-style situations. If you are in a military-style battle, you do not want to be armed with a pistol or a shotgun, which have an effective range of 20-50 meters, compared to 400 meters or more for rifles. Bolt-action rifles (not semiautomatic) were standard issue in World War I, but obviously represent a significant handicap today in a military situation. “High capacity magazines” are irrelevant for most crime and mass shooting events. Rarely do you need more than ten bullets (compared to seventeen in a typical “high capacity” pistol magazine); even then, it is not very hard to reload when facing unarmed opponents. But, high capacity magazines are an important part of military effectiveness, where battles can be stretched over hours and it is important to be able to carry large amounts of ammunition. The typical soldier today carries 210 or more rounds, which is hard to do with a 10-round magazine. (This is not very much if it has to stretch over a full day of battle.) It appears that this agenda is targeted at reducing the military-style effectiveness of the legal firearms-owning U.S. citizen. Its relevance toward firearm homicide, or even mass-shooting events, is negligible as we have seen.

I should mention here, for those unfamiliar with firearms, that purchases of new fully automatic weapons have been banned since 1986, and were restricted since 1934. “Full auto” means that a firearm fires continuously with a continuous trigger pull, like a “machine gun,” at a rate of perhaps 400-600 rounds per minute. Only “semiautomatic” weapons are legal today, which means that it fires one shot per trigger pull. The “assault weapon” is a made-up term referring is a semiautomatic rifle with “tactical style” features, including pistol grips. So, basically an “assault weapons ban” is a ban on pistol grips. Yes, the handle. Functionally, the high-capacity magazine ban is more important, as that affects the use of the rifle more directly.

It is worth noting that new fully automatic weapons could be purchased legally before 1986, although there were additional protocols involved. It did not seem to be a problem. One reason that the full-auto ban is not particularly challenged by the Second Amendment lobby is that militaries themselves have found that handheld full-auto weapons are not particularly useful. The standard-issue rifle in the U.S. Army today does not have full-auto capability, although it does have a three-shot burst mode. In the past, the M240 machinegun (28 pounds empty) required a crew of three to carry all the ammunition and equipment (ten belts, or 1000 rounds, were about 30 kilos, or 66 pounds). Even the more recent belt-fed M249 “squad automatic weapon” is being phased out. The soldier carrying the lightweight M249 (17 pounds empty) has to also carry at least 600 rounds of belt ammunition, which weighs another thirty pounds or so. At a 600-rounds-per-minute full-auto fire rate, guess how long that lasted. Full-auto weapons are being found more commonly in permanent mountings or on vehicles, where they don’t have the issues of weight or ammunition supply.

Nevertheless, you can get a used fully-automatic weapon in the U.S. today if you follow certain protocols. There are an estimated 200,000 legally-owned machine guns (full auto) in the U.S. Since 1934, including all the years before 1986 when full-auto firearms were more obtainable, the total number of homicides in which legally-owned full-auto firearms were used is: two. In one incident, the offender was a policeman. Homicides involving illegally-owned full-auto weapons are so rare that statistics are not even kept. This 2009 special report from California found one incident involving an illegal submachine gun, used in a gang-related incident. In 1980 (before the 1986 ban), an estimated 1% of homicides in Miami involved full-auto weapons. This was the heyday of “Miami Vice” and “Scarface.”

Do you see what I mean? We are Americans. 200,000 legally-owned full-auto machine guns, and not one stray bullet. It’s a little amazing, really.

It is clear that there is an agenda to, first, promote these “mass shooting” events themselves in the media, although they are a negligible part of firearm homicide; and then, to promote a certain narrative after the event. From this it is not too much of a step to wonder if the events themselves are “promoted” — that is, they are purposefully undertaken as “false flag” events. Back before the internet, a popular book among those who thought the various “lone gunman” stories promoted by official sources were fake, was Behold a Pale Horse (1991), by William Milton Cooper, who previously worked for Naval Intelligence. In Behold a Pale Horse, he described:

“The government encouraged the manufacture and importation of firearms for the criminals to use. This is intended to foster a feeling of insecurity, which would lead the American people to voluntarily disarm themselves by passing laws against firearms. Using drugs and hypnosis on mental patients in a process called Orion, the CIA inculcated the desire in these people to open fire on schoolyards and thus inflame the anti-gun lobby. This plan is well under way, and so far is working perfectly. The middle class is begging the government to do away with the 2nd Amendment.”

I am not going to go down the rabbit hole of the immense amount of high-quality research that has been done on these “lone gunman mass shooting events” over the past ten years. But, I am going to point out the entrance to the rabbit hole.

Surprisingly, there is a fair amount of evidence that in many incidents, nobody actually died. The whole thing was theater, enacted by “crisis actors.” (In other incidents, however, people really did die.) In a rather long list of situations, “crisis enactments” were officially scheduled by authorities months in advance; “crisis actors” were hired for these officially-planned enactments; these just happened to coincide with “real” events that were the same as the preplanned enactments. In many other situations, there are numerous eyewitness reports of multiple gunmen, possibly accompanied by video. If there is an apparent “lone gunman,” often they have mental health issues, and are connected with a “handler” with FBI/CIA ties for months or years previous. One or another of these characteristics is apparent in nearly all of these events, for anyone who bothers to look. People have become so accustomed to looking for these repeating elements that the initial reports come out only a few hours after the events themselves.

But, that is nothing new for government work. The Vietnam War began when the Gulf of Tonkin Incident, in which the Navy claimed that it was fired upon by North Vietnamese military, led to the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution from Congress, which gave the president unilateral power to launch any military action he deemed necessary. In a National Security Administration document declassified in 2005, it was confirmed that there was no attack on Navy ships in the Gulf of Tonkin. It was all made up. The Spanish-American War — in which the United States took Puerto Rico and the Philippines from Spain — began when a U.S. Navy ship “spontaneously” blew up in Havana Harbor in Cuba, and Spain was blamed. Operation Northwoods was a CIA program in the 1960s that aimed to commit terrorist activities against American civilians, and blame them on Cuba.

If you connect both the apparent agenda after these events, with the possibility that the events themselves are part of the agenda, you end up with what is certainly a powerful effort to disarm the U.S. civilian population; and not because of crime or gun homicide, but specifically in a manner that eliminates the civilian population’s ability to counter a military-style opponent (not necessarily a state military, but a large and organized group). The fact of the matter is, right now, the U.S. civilian is very, very hard to conquer — exactly the outcome the Founders intended. A 2018 survey found that U.S. civilians owned perhaps 39.7% of all the small arms in the world, including all those owned by all the world’s militaries. Nobody can conquer a population of 330 million with nearly as many firearms as the rest of the world combined; three times as many as all the militaries of the world combined; and seventeen times as many as all the law enforcement agencies in the world combined.

It is a popular argument today that “you can’t fight the military which has F-15s etc. etc.” This is not really what people are concerned about, and amounts to an irrelevant strawman. But, I will take it seriously here, for just a moment. The North Vietnamese Army did actually defeat the U.S. military with nothing much more than small arms. Just a few years after that, the Vietnamese defeated the Chinese military, again with little more than small arms. But let’s say there is what amounts to a civil war in the U.S. All you have to do is disable the power line to the O-ring factory whose O-rings go into the spare parts for the F-15, and those F-15s are scrap metal. Or, the factory workers themselves might just walk out, accomplishing the same thing without a shot fired. The U.S. military won’t be able to keep its high-tech forces going for long when the U.S. itself is a battleground. Not to mention whether U.S. soldiers are really going to want to fight their own countrymen, many of whom they know personally. In Vietnam, U.S. conscript soldiers would throw hand grenades into the tents of their officers, because they didn’t really want to fight North Vietnamese communists. It would be interesting to see what those American soldiers do to you once you start killing their relatives. Lastly, you can kill a massively armed population, but you can’t defeat it. Let’s say the U.S. military killed 200 million Americans with nuclear weapons. Two things would happen: 1) The industrial base behind the military would be demolished; 2) You would have 130 million remaining Americans who are very, very mad at you; all of them are still armed; and they know where you live.

That is enough for this week. We will continue along these themes.