CNN’s Acosta Cites Wild Gun Figure, Immediately Corrected

On Thursday morning, the anniversary of the horrific Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, CNN’s Jim Acosta posted an article which grossly over-represented the number of mass shootings across the United States.

The article reported there have been over 1,500 mass shooting since 2010, when a 20-year-old fatally shot 20 children and half a dozen staff members in Newton, Connecticut.

He posted, “Since Sandy Hook there have been at least 1,552 mass shootings, with at least 1,767 people killed and 6,227 wounded.”

Since Acosta shared the article this morning, the number of mass shooting incidents has already gone up.

Vox reports 1,576 mass shootings have occurred since December 2012.

Twitchy reports the discrepancy:

And if you actually read the story you’ll notice that Vox actually UPPED the number of mass shootings since Acosta tweeted … why isn’t CNN covering those 24 mass shootings that happened in the last three hours?

In addition, according to the report cited in the Vox article, 331 mass shootings occurred this year.

The Vox article defines a “mass shooting” as an incident where “four or more people (not counting the shooter) were shot at the same general time and location.”

The report also qualifies the data by saying “[t]he count is also a constant work in progress, so some of the numbers and details may be slightly imprecise.”

Vox offers information to counter their own (and Acosta’s) claim:

Using one common definition — shootings at a public place in which the shooter murdered four or more people, excluding domestic, gang, and drug violence — they appear to be getting more common, according to an analysis from Harvard School of Public Health researchers.

But not everyone agrees with this definition. Northeastern University criminologist James Alan Fox, for example, defines mass shootings more widely, as any shooting in which at least four people were murdered. Under those terms, mass shootings don’t appear to be increasing.

Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health call the definition Fox uses too broad, since it catches domestic, gang, and drug-related shootings that aren’t usually considered mass shootings in layman’s terms.

The Gun Violence Archive’s definition, which is what’s used for the map above, is even broader than Fox’s — counting not just murders but injuries, too. So it counts all shootings in which four or more people were shot but not necessarily killed (excluding the shooter). That includes domestic, gang, and drug-related shootings in which four or more people were killed or wounded, as well.

Even under the Gun Violence Archive’s broad definition, it’s worth noting that mass shootings make up a tiny portion of America’s firearm deaths, which total more than 32,000 each year.

CNN previously reported (via the Congressional Research Service) that the U.S. has on average only one mass shooting per month:

The government has never defined “mass shooting” as a standalone category. Let’s go with the most commonly accepted definition, from the Congressional Research Service: a shooting in which a gunman …
  • kills four or more people
  • selects victims randomly (ruling out gang killings or the killing of multiple family members)
  • attacks in a public place
That definition rules out the Congressional baseball practice shooting in June, because the gunman didn’t kill four people. In September, a man shot and killed eight people in Plano, Texas — but that attack doesn’t count either because police say the gunman had a “connection to the house.”
Using that narrow definition to the Gun Violence Archive numbers, we have seen ten deadly mass shootings from January 1 to November 5.
That averages to one a month.
The Congressional Research Service reports “78 public mass shootings that have occurred in the United States since 1983” (as of March 2013).

Here’s what some people said about Acosta’s figure:


Note: The author of this article has included commentary that expresses an opinion and analysis of the facts.

DISCLAIMER: Views expressed in articles do not necessarily reflect the views held by Sarah Palin.

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