1/18/2013

Consensus and disagreement on Multiple Victim Public Shootings (Correction to my earlier work also included)

I found this important series of quotes in an article by Jake Berry at the Nashua Telegraph.  The amazing thing to me is that you can see such a very consistent pattern and all these individuals still just think that it is due to randomness.
. . . Once again, Lott’s findings show that each mass shooting, except the Giffords incident, took place in “gun-free zones.”
“Killers go where victims can’t defend themselves,” Lott wrote last week in an email to The Telegraph, using this year’s Aurora movie theater shooting as an example. “Out of seven theaters showing the Batman movie premiere within 20 minutes of the suspect’s apartment, only one banned permitted concealed handguns. The suspect didn’t go to the closest nor the largest, but to the one that banned self-defense. Time after time, the story is the same.”
On the whole, Lott’s colleagues – both in the media and academia – don’t dispute his findings.
“I suspect that most places that mass public shootings could logically occur are ‘gun-free zones’ either determined by the government (schools) or by private businesses and institutions,” David Hemenway, director of the Injury Control Research Center at Harvard University, wrote in an email.
But they do debate Lott’s conclusions, and Hoell’s point that a location’s “gun-free” status actually attracts shooters.
“There is no evidence, to our knowledge, of any mass shooter specifically selecting his location based on its likelihood of being ‘gun-free,’” Mary Vriniotis, a research specialist for the Harvard school, wrote in an email.
“Schools might be a likely target because that is where a mass of people congregate and those people involve a lot of troubled adolescents who may harbor bad feelings toward the people there who bullied them, were unfair to them, etc,” added Daniel Webster, director of Center for Gun Policy and Research at Johns Hopkins University. “The shooters in these instances didn’t say, ‘Hey, I’ll find a gun-free zone where I can shoot a lot of people.’ No, they went to a place for reasons wholly unrelated to gun-free zones.”
Some of the documentation of these cases can be found in my original research with Bill Landes that studied the period from 1977 to 1999 and it is available here.  Here is the problem with Hemenway's and Webster's response: Whether it is something like the Colorado movie theater shooting where the killer went to the single movie theater out of seven within a twenty minute drive of the killer's apartment that banned concealed handguns or the various mall shootings where the killer went to the one place where guns were banned, there were lots of similar targets and the killers went to the place where victims couldn't defend themselves.  In right-to-carry states people can usually carry their concealed handguns almost anywhere and yet the attacks keep taking place in those small areas where guns are banned.  The paper with Landes and my subsequent research continues to show that this isn't random. As to Vriniotis' claim, I have also found other evidence that in at least a few cases, such as Columbine, the killers knew about the gun free zone and even actively opposed legislation letting potential victims carry guns.

Some of my posts with information on the Colorado movie theater shooting, the Sikh Temple shooting in Wisconsin, the business shooting in Wisconsin, Mall shootings (see here, here, and here), cafe and coffee shop shootings (here), and other places (here and here).  I have a long list of over 325 other postings here and here.

Based on Jake's research it appears that I had one case classified incorrectly (the attack at the International House of Pancakes restaurant in Carson City, Nevada in 2011) so that there was a second case in the US where an attack occurred where guns weren't banned. What appears to have happened there is that one of the five who died was the killer himself and I don't count the death of the killer in my totals of those killed.  Secondly, the fourth victim who died after the attack (one of the many original stories that I used is here (original post here)) and I hadn't gone back to double check on that case, as I admittedly should have done.

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