Patterico's Pontifications


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, 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

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.

52 Responses to “L.A. Times’s Steve Lopez Exaggerates Number of Multiple Death Shootings By More Than Threefold”

  1. is he the one with the dimples

    happyfeet (831175)

  2. 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.

    Patterico (86c8ed)

  3. UPDATE: he is in fact *not* the one with the dimples

    happyfeet (831175)

  4. I assume that he is returning on Dec 7 for the annual LATimes Pearl Harbor/Seasonal Break Holiday Party.

    R Solomon (f2fb68)

  5. This is the Pttterico we know and love.

    DRJ (15874d)

  6. Notice that they also count the gunman as a victim if deceased. So two or more could be a murder suicide?

    Also, in London today, an elderly man accompanying a young child was slashed in the throat. The police responded and (perhaps after they had 10 men on scene, according to an eye witness) they tasered the sob. No details on when they rushed the victim to the hospital. The eye witness said that there was a “dead man on the ground” as the police confronted the attacker. The video shows a large pool of blood on this side of the subway turnstile, while the attacker was about 25 feet beyond the turnstile. But no sign of the victim other than the blood. Hopefully some one was helping him. But my fear is that the police let the victim bleed out while they got a team together to take down the swordsman using non-lethal force. And remarkably, commuters continued to walk around pool of blood, pass thru the turnstile and approach the yelling attacker. Apparently oblivious to their danger.

    It’s this sort of thing that makes me reluctant to surrender my personal responsibility for the tender mercies of homeland security.

    BobStewartatHome (a52abe)

  7. Britain needs to adopt sensible knife control measures. That is what doctors writing in the British Medical Journal say.

    nk, (dbc370)

  8. This is the Patterico we know and love.

    I was inspired by the fellow who sent the picture of the dog on the L.A. Times. I said to myself: “I never read this paper any more; lemme see how long it will take me to find a mistake.”

    It took about ten minutes.

    Patterico (86c8ed)

  9. i’m curious about the ooo now

    does he leave an ooo every weekend?

    like hi you guys you caught me on the way totally exceptional weekend i’m not working pls to leave a message

    i don’t do that

    i don’t know anyone who does that

    do you do that?

    cause me i don’t

    i’m trying to think of who i know what does that but i can’t think of anyone

    other people i do not know are include susan dey and michael arad

    michael arad lives in the east village where you can get the bone broth

    that’s just a wee lil bit north of the part of manhattan what is mindlessly and eternally grateful to the hooch of herpes bill clinton for her valiant and indefatigable efforts to shine up the boo boo after that whole 9/ll thang

    small whirl huh

    happyfeet (831175)

  10. He was Slater? Good for him to escape Hollywood.

    nk, (dbc370)

  11. Never mind.

    nk (dbc370)

  12. anyone find this detail, curious:

    scroll to the end,

    narciso (732bc0)

  13. who goes to san bernardino on a mission?

    it has one of the few country stations in LA

    that’s all i can tell you

    happyfeet (831175)

  14. I have to spell it with frosting for you:

    For several years, he had been an expert on data sets and mapping for the University of Southern California’s National Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events.

    narciso (732bc0)

  15. yeah i get that Mr. n but picklehead are the stakes really all that high anymores?

    so isis is slaughtering failmericans


    isn’t that just the natural order of things in obama’s america?

    now me I’m in a pickle cause I can’t find anyone what makes chockit-dipped twizzlers

    i need them for red cup season

    i’m making lil gift-baskets for me guests (so they have purell and mints and chapstick and soy candles and such)

    specifically i’d lurv white chockit-dipped twizzlers (with sprinkles!)

    i think dylan’s has em sometimes but i hate giving money to that insane weirdo bunnyhooch

    i’m a talk to Amy

    i met her when my friend T was here

    happyfeet (831175)

  16. think of it, like the supposed, jordanian double agent, that struck around news years 2009, in Afghanistan

    narciso (732bc0)

  17. I have taken avow not to eat chocolate-covered Twizzlers until all the World lives together in peace and harmony or until I am too demented to know the difference.

    nk (dbc370)

  18. I don’t know, white chocolate tends to defeat the purpose, but your sacrifice is noted,

    narciso (732bc0)

  19. together we can make this the bestest red cup season EVER

    happyfeet (831175)

  20. There is no such thing as white chocolate. It is a lie and an oxymoron like President Obama. Waht makes chocolate is the ground up roasted chocolate bean of which so-called white chocolate has none, not the chocolate bean oil.

    nk (dbc370)

  21. cocoa bean

    nk (dbc370)

  22. yes yes white chocolate is very…

    how to say

    you roll the dice

    but my friend for serious

    go here… 59 East Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611 (off rush)

    get a mix of Desiree Blanc, Manon Blanc, Manon Cafe Blanc, Buche Praline Blanc, Casaleo Blanc, Louise Blanc, Mendiants Blanc and then for grins throw in some Manneken Pis White…

    this is very very deeply red cup season, even if it’s both a lie and an oxymoron

    i promise

    this city is really deeply wonderful magical and seductive and i’m a cherish it while it lasts

    happyfeet (831175)

  23. there is also another statistical quirk, even the largest western european countries have 1/5 our population, some have 1/6 even 1/7th.

    narciso (732bc0)

  24. oops this is the site

    they’re from the magical kingdom of belgiumland

    weirdly though they’re not obsessed with seashells

    they do have a few though if you go to the store

    happyfeet (831175)

  25. they also do their own hot chockit but for me that’s a next year thing

    this year’s hot chockit is here

    i think it’s called hennessy nutella, and it’s not super-pricey but it IS very special

    this is hilarious but i don’t think this is how Toni’s makes it

    omg that’s the most hilarious hot chockit recipe ever

    happyfeet (831175)

  26. My father made chocolate at Brach Candy for 17 years.

    nk (dbc370)

  27. In honor of the LA Times and in the spirit of Christmas, my wife bought me my Christmas present today. A brand new AR 15. I’m watching videos of them tonight. The SC game ceased to interest me.

    Happy Holidays.

    Mike K (90dfdc)

  28. Has anyone else recognized the latest anti-gun meme? My local rag has this. However, just google gun violence research and you can see the journolist is still alive. The coordination is exquisite. From Discovery Channel to the Huffpo.

    I am astonished at how stupid they think we are. With all due respect, Hot Air caught it before me, but I missed the post before my search.

    Ag80 (eb6ffa)

  29. well that’s the Joyce Foundation, and remember who was at the head of that,

    narciso (732bc0)

  30. The 355 number is being repeated by the media.

    AZ Bob (34bb80)

  31. Could you please shoot me a quick note

    What caliber note did Lopez send you?

    slp (3cff6b)

  32. In honor of the LA Times and in the spirit of Christmas, my wife bought me my Christmas present today. A brand new AR 15.

    Ok, that answers a question I had a while back.

    nk (dbc370)

  33. Ag80 (eb6ffa) — 12/5/2015 @ 10:06 pm

    Yes, AG80. This is the scripted attempt to grow a “grassroots” (real or astro-turfed) movement to create a new Federal agency to add to the already large list of alphabet entities used to suck money out of and provide power over the Taxpayers of this country.

    felipe (56556d)

  34. nk, are you hiding Helen Brach? (:

    Ipso Fatso (10964d)

  35. #36

    All in the service of an ideology.

    felipe (56556d)

  36. #31: Ag80, isn’t it comforting to know that the “solution” to islamic terror will be discovered by a federally supported study to be conducted by the Center for Disease Control? Why didn’t we think of this years ago.

    The recourse to a fictional authority that treats warfare as a disease is every bit as laughable as the idea that the ocean will rise five or six feet. And it will be just as corrosive on the integrity of whatever scientific discipline they decide to use as their “authority”.

    Meanwhile they are concerned that ISIS has already smuggled chemical or biological weapons into the EU, and Judicial Watch reported yesterday that two men were captured on our border with Mexico (actually on a ranch in Arizona 20 miles distant from the border,) carrying five stainless steel cylinders containing unknown substances.

    The left’s focus on firearms, which is obviously shared by the grinning fool in the WH, is a fantastical hoax. Box cutters and jumbo jets have so far been the jihadi’s most effective weapons. Their next innovation will be very hard to anticipate if our “experts” are focused solely on large capacity magazines and pistol grips on long guns.

    BobStewartatHome (a52abe)

  37. The biggest problem with the 355 number is that the folks generating it are purposely conflicting numbers. There have been a number of pro-gun sites that have taken down the Shooting Tracker database. Evaluation of the reports seems to say that Shooting Tracker includes when cops and criminals get into shoot outs with each other and someone is injured, when someone is injured by airsoft guns (toy guns that shoot plastic bb’s) or even paintball guns. That isn’t critical thinking and it isn’t even critical statically analysis. What the folks at Shooting Tracker are doing is akin to the anti-rape folks claiming that even an unwanted touch on the arm is rape and that a kiss on the cheek is akin to violent rape.

    Let alone that some of the shootings these folks are counting, end up being double counted and confusing the general public. Since if you make shootouts between the police and criminals and a situation of saying, that any time four people are shot is a “mass shooting”, then you make what were justified use of the weapons as being dangerous and make the whole world seem scarier than before.

    The whole thing is a serious abuse of statistics and should have been examined for what it was, but no one in the left wing media seriously did that. So now the meme that the US is akin to Somalia or some failed state is the truth now to most left wingers.

    Charles (174c38)

  38. What we need are common-sense two-liter laws, since old Pepsi bottles can be made into Molotov cocktails. Pitch a couple of those into a room and block the doors…. Not that the terrs haven’t thought of this. And, hell, they can legally carry them in a gun-free zone.

    Richard Aubrey (472a6f)

  39. My father made chocolate at Brach Candy for 17 years.

    oh. okey dokey then.

    happyfeet (831175)

  40. thank you.
    i will take it up with editors.

    Next Week:

    “They caught me in my outright lie, shall we bother to run a retraction?”
    “Sure, go ahead and write it, we’ll post it up in a week or so…”
    “Thanks, always good to maintain full deniability in regards to our ‘integrity’…”

    IGotBupkis, "Si tacuisses, philosophus mansisses." (a4b662)

  41. thank you.
    i will take it up with editors.

    Yea, those that are still sticking around., October 30, 2015: Fifteen percent of The Los Angeles Times newsroom has applied for buyouts, according to a source with knowledge of the process. At least 75 individuals in the 500-person flagship of Tribune Publishing have applied for the buyout, which can bring a maximum of one year’s pay, depending on length of service.

    The Los Angeles response to the offer strongly suggests that the ambiguities of both the company and industry in general will be sufficient incentive for large numbers to leave company-wide. At The Chicago Tribune, it is believed that a roughly similar percentage, or about 50 editorial employees in a smaller newsroom, have applied for buyouts.

    Not surprisingly, at both papers those applying include veterans who would be eligible for as much as a year’s pay. They also represent a wealth of experience and expertise.

    The sharp cuts come amid a variety of Tribune tribulations, including a messy dismissal of the Los Angeles publisher, a falling stock price and a sub-par digital performance.

    Along with opinion polls that indicate a large majority of people hold the media in very low regard — while admitting that a lot of the ongoing problems hitting the MSM (particularly print) have as much to do with, or more to do with, technology and a changing culture than the sins of blatant, clumsy bias — the one reaction I do have is: Schadenfreude.

    Mark (f713e4)

  42. when i was a wee lil pickle me and mom would drive to Houston a lot for to go to the doctor, for i was a sickly child

    after the appointment there was a Sears we would go to with a candy department and she’d get me a bag of Brach’s white chocolate stars, which were very very good (not the absurdly lemony kind)

    they don’t make them anymore which sucks cause of they were really good for making cookies

    happyfeet (831175)

  43. Ok, that answers a question I had a while back.

    If it was whether I owned a rifle, the answer was yes, a 30-30 lever action, a muzzle loader black powder and a flintlock rifle.

    The AR 15 is going to be interesting and I am watching videos of how to take it apart. I am beginning to understand why so many people love them. It’s a tinkerer’s rifle. You can assemble one from parts.

    I also got a new Colt 1911 a couple of months ago. I gave my Beretta to my son who shoots it better than I do. The Colt just fits my hand better. I also have a Walther PPK but it is too small for my hand and it is going to my wife. She is taking gun classes.

    Mike K (90dfdc)

  44. The FBI metric is “four or more killed, not counting the shooter, and not part of another crime” like robbery.

    Mother Jones editor in NY Times op-ed:

    On Wednesday, a Washington Post article announced that “The San Bernardino shooting is the second mass shooting today and the 355th this year.” Vox, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, this newspaper and others reported similar statistics. Grim details from the church in Charleston, a college classroom in Oregon and a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado are still fresh, but you could be forgiven for wondering how you missed more than 300 other such attacks in 2015.

    At Mother Jones, where I work as an editor, we have compiled an in-depth, open-source database covering more than three decades of public mass shootings. By our measure, there have been four “mass shootings” this year, including the one in San Bernardino, and at least 73 such attacks since 1982.

    FOUR not 355.

    Or John Lott’s takedown:

    The French have witnessed three mass public shootings this year. January saw two attacks, one on the Charlie Hebdo magazine and another on a Paris supermarket. In the November attacks, 129 people were killed and 352 were injured. In 2015, France suffered more casualties than the U.S. has suffered during Obama’s entire presidency (508 to 394).

    He then goes on to normalize statistics for population and finds the US is about 8th in number and frequency of such shootings in the West. Imagine if they included India, Africa or South and Central America.

    See here:

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  45. Mother Jones mass shooting database ought to be unimpeachable by the Left.

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  46. Make no mistake, Obama and his fellow leftwing fascists are using the San Bernardino terror strike to ram gun ownership restrictions down the throats of an unwilling citizenry, just as they passed ACA – fully knowing it would decimate the existing healthcare industry and pretty much destroy our healthcare system as we know it – as the first step to single-payer healthcare.

    All this in lieu of doing what is required to eliminate the threat of radical Islamic terror, which he apparently has no issues with. Same for his pathetic excuse for an AG and the like-minded MSM.

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  47. I agree, Colonel.

    DRJ (15874d)

  48. Obama will declare war on the 2nd Amendment, legal responsible gun owners, due process, and a brigade of strawmen tonight. It won’t be pretty.

    JD (3b5483)

  49. 49. …All this in lieu of doing what is required to eliminate the threat of radical Islamic terror, which he apparently has no issues with…

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0) — 12/6/2015 @ 1:23 pm

    Why would he have issues with it, let alone want to eliminate it, when it’s such a handy tool in in his campaign to fundamentally transform America?

    What he wants is more of it.

    Hello, Syrian refugees!

    Steve57 (a13395)

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