Following Saturday’s horrific shooting at Chabad of Poway synagogue in San Diego, California, "AR-15" began trending on Twitter, with several commentators noting that from Aurora to Orlando, the semi-automatic rifle has been the weapon of choice for mass shooters:
These tweets leave out critical information.
Mother Jones has a running data set of every mass shooting from 1982 - 2019 (not including Saturday’s shooting). The spreadsheet not only provides dates, locations, summaries, injuries, and fatalities, but also weapons used.
[Note: Some of the data points overlap. As such, they do not add up to a perfect 100%]
Here are some relevant facts:
- 35.5% of the 110 mass and spree shootings since 1982 in which there were three or more victims were perpetrated with a mix of rifles, handguns, and other firearms.
- 49% of the 110 mass and spree shootings since 1982 in which there were three or more victims were perpetrated with only handguns (one or more).
- 10% of the 110 mass and spree shootings since 1982 in which there were three or more victims were perpetrated with a mix of shotguns and handguns.
- 10.9% of the 110 mass and spree shootings since 1982 in which there were three or more victims were perpetrated with only rifles.
- Of the 888 deaths in mass or spree shootings from 1982 - 2019, 373 (42%) happened in shootings in which handguns were the only firearms used.
- Of the 888 deaths in mass or spree shootings from 1982 - 2019, 148 (16.6%) happened in shootings in which rifles were the only firearms used.
The above are critical statistics if one is intent on ending gun violence. The mainstream media typically focuses on the firearms used in mass or spree shootings only when those firearm are semi-automatic rifles. However, over the last 36 years, almost one -half of all mass shooters used handguns exclusively, while just one-tenth used rifles exclusively, according to the data collected by Mother Jones.
Moreover, as The Daily Wire previously reported regarding general gun violence:
According to Uniform Crime Reporting data from the FBI, between 2010 and 2014, there were approximately 43,002 murders in the United States in which firearms were the weapon of choice. 70% (30,114) of the firearms used were handguns, while 3.6% (1,530) were rifles.
Even if one takes the 21.5% (9,228) of gun deaths that were committed using unclassified firearms, assumes that half of them were rifles (a very generous assumption given the statistics), and adds that to the 3.6% of gun deaths in which rifles were identified as the weapon used, that still amounts to just over a quarter (25.1%) of total firearm murders in the United States.
For context, 5.3 times as many people (8,109) are murdered in the United States with "knives or cutting instruments" than with rifles, and 2.3 times as many people (3,574) are murdered in the United States with "hands, fists, [and] feet" than with rifles, according to FBI data.
Despite the above information, politicians and activists continue to push for the banning of semi-automatic rifles, specifically the AR-15, while avoiding any talk of banning handguns. This position can only come from one of two places — ignorance or malice.
Typically, one should not attribute to malice what one can attribute to ignorance. However, given the wealth of information regarding mass and spree shootings available to the public, one cannot help but come to the conclusion that our elected officials are using semi-automatic rifles as a kind of prop.
By repeatedly speaking about semi-automatic rifles as if they are the singular weapon causing mass destruction, and by condemning politicians in the Republican Party who don’t sign on to legislation that would ban these weapons, progressive Democrats stoke fear and resentment while doing nothing to actually decrease gun violence in the United States.