Patterico's Pontifications

12/5/2015

L.A. Times’s Steve Lopez Exaggerates Number of Multiple Death Shootings By More Than Threefold

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 3:26 pm

I have just sent the following email to Steve Lopez at the L.A. Times:

Mr. Lopez,

I am writing to correct an error in your December 3 column, in which you said:

The San Bernardino massacre was the 355th multiple-death shooting in the country this year. Every incident is different — the narratives cover everything from personal grudges to the many cracks in the mental healthcare system.

And every incident is the same — innocent people die for no reason other than being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

You have (I assume inadvertently) exaggerated the number of multiple-death shootings more than threefold. The true number of shootings in the U.S. in 2015 with two or more victims is 101, not 355. You are citing a statistic that relates to “mass shootings” and not “mass killings.”

As Ian Tuttle explains in National Review:

On Wednesday, as police continued the hunt for the murderers of 14 people in San Bernardino, Calif., mainstream media outlets noted with alarm that “mass shootings” were outpacing the calendar. San Bernardino’s massacre was the 355th “mass shooting” — in 336 days.

The source of the much-publicized data is the “Mass Shooting Tracker” at shootingtracker.com, a crowdsourced page that defines a “mass shooting” as any in which “four or more people are shot in one event, or related series of events, likely without a cooling off period.” Victims might include the gunman; the data is based on news reports.

. . . .

It may be for this reason, among others, that the FBI does not define “mass shootings,” only “mass killings.” The latter are those incidents with at least three dead, a metric based on the Investigative Assistance for Violent Crimes Act of 2012, which passed into law in 2013 and grants the U.S. attorney general authority to aid in the investigation of “mass killings and attempted mass killings at the request of an appropriate law enforcement official of a state or political subdivision.” Under this definition, there have been 67 “mass killings” this year.

So: while the number you cite has been bandied about by your fellow travelers in Big Media, it does not refer to mass killings, but rather “mass shootings.” As Mr. Tuttle explains, the 355 number refers to shootings “four or more people are shot in one event, or related series of events, likely without a cooling off period.” That’s “shootings” and not “killings.”

But please: don’t take the word of some right-winger at National Review (that’s Tuttle), or some blogger who mocks the L.A. Times on a regular basis (that’s me!). Check the numbers for yourself. The mass shooting tracker that you guys in Big Media cite for the 355 number is here. It breaks down the data, so you can see how many people were killed and wounded in each event. As Mr. Tuttle says, the true number of mass killings in 2015 (defined as three or more killings) is 67. If you want to call shootings with two victims “multiple-death shootings” — which stretches the definition of “multiple,” but I’ll be a sport and let that go — then you can add another 34 more shootings to the total.

But any way you slice it, the number of shootings in which two or more people were killed is 101. Not 335.

I’m not saying that’s great, mind you. Every multiple-death shooting is one too many. People can honestly debate what to do about it. But as we have that debate, we need to get the facts right, as I’m sure you agree.

Could you please shoot me a quick note once you have had the chance to review this, and let me know when your readers can expect a correction? Thanks for your time.

Patrick Frey
patterico.com

P.S. I got an “out of office” auto-reply. He’s gone until December 7.

UPDATE: I just got this note from Mr. Lopez:

thank you.
i will take it up with editors.

I appreciate that quick response, and I just told him so.

Los Angeles Times Fulfills Its Proper Function (Photo)

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:51 pm

My deepest thanks to reader Steve L. for the finest email I have received in recent memory:

Attached are two photos taken 30 minutes ago at the pet store in Fashion Island, Newport Beach.

You will no doubt notice the correct use of the LA Times.

Let me also take this opportunity to extend my warmest wishes to you for the holiday season, and to let you know that you are always welcome at my new home in [redacted by Patterico].

Keep up the outstanding work.

Here is one of the attached photos:

Screen Shot 2015-12-05 at 12.17.47 PM
Above: The L.A. Dog Trainer fulfills its true function

Let’s always remember that the term “Dog Trainer” for this paper was coined by Harry Shearer. All I did was steal it and, in my own small way, help popularize it.

Thanks again to Steve L.

AG Lynch Vows To Take Action On Behalf Of Some

Filed under: General — Dana @ 8:30 am

[guest post by Dana]

Attorney General Loretta Lynch spoke to a Muslim Advocacy group just one day after the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, vowing to take action against “anti-Muslim rhetoric” that “edges toward violence.”

“Now obviously this is a country that is based on free speech,” she said. “but when it edges towards violence, when we see the potential for someone lifting that mantle of anti-Muslim rhetoric or, as we saw after 9/11, violence against individuals… when we see that, we will take action.”

“I think it’s important that as we again talk about the importance of free speech we make it clear that actions predicated on violent talk are not America. They are not who we are, they are not what we do, and they will be prosecuted,” she concluded.

In an effort to clarify what remains vague and unspecific in her comments, Eugene Volokh offers this distinction:

If the attorney general is trying to suggest that the Justice Department will generally prosecute people for speech that “edges towards violence,” or for “anti-Muslim hatred, including rhetoric,” that’s bad. If she’s trying to suggest that the Justice Department will sometimes investigate such people in order to see if they have more than just rhetoric on their minds, that’s fine.

Interestingly, I don’t remember AG Lynch making any such vows regarding anti-Christian rhetoric and accusations of Christian terrorism after the Colorado Planned Parenthood attack last month.

–Dana


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