A guest post by Patrice Johnson
Few topics of discussion can evoke a more passionate (or politically charged) emotional reaction than the subject of mass shootings. While there is no question that mass shootings are horrific, opinions differ widely—particularly in the United States—on what causes mass shootings and what needs to be done about them.
Our hearts ache for the victims of the senseless Feb. 13 shootings on the MSU campus. With three dead and two of the five who were injured still hospitalized, emotions are running high. President Biden is calling for anti-gun legislation, and Michigan’s Democrat-controlled legislature has dusted off anti-gun bills in an attempt to turn election and drop-box locations into gun-free zones.
However, it is rarely wise to make decisions in the heat of the moment. Now is a time to examine the facts and come to reasonable and rational conclusions.
Assess the situation
The FBI’s 30-year definition of a mass shooting involves the fatal shooting of four or more people in a public place and unrelated to a gang, drug or other crime shooting. Given this definition, a stunning 96% of all mass shootings between 1998 and 2015 occurred in gun-free zones.
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In 2013, the FBI reduced its mass shooting qualifier to “three or more killings,” though the majority of academics are said to continue to use the four or more definition. Changing the qualifier changes the percentages. Per the New York Times, “There is no official consensus on what constitutes a mass shooting,” so for consistency’s sake, Crime Search used the FBI’s pre-2013 definition.
As the heart-wrenching message on the rock on the MSU campus stated after the horrendous shootings, “Allow us to defend ourselves & carry on campus.” Who can wonder at students’ frustration at being denied their constitutional right to bear arms and defend themselves?
The “Rock” on the MSU campus was painted with a powerful message that described the way many students felt following the mass shooting that took place on the MSU campus. “Allow us to defend ourselves & carry on campus,” the “rock” read.
Mass shootings are part of the larger issue of overall gun violence.
There have been 94 mass shootings in 2023 (3 or more killed) in the United States, according to data from the Gun Violence Archive.
But the Gun Violence Archive tracks only gun deaths and mass shootings within United States’ borders.
In perspective: U.S. gun violence compared to other countries
The U.S., with an average of 10.89 gun deaths per 100,000 population, does not appear on the top ten list of gun-death nations.
Countries with the Highest Rates of Violent Gun Deaths (homicides) per 100,000 residents in 2019:
1. El Salvador — 36.78
2. Venezuela — 33.27
3. Guatemala — 29.06
4. Colombia — 26.36
5. Brazil — 21.93
6. Bahamas — 21.52
7. Honduras — 20.15
8. U.S. Virgin Islands — 19.40
9. Puerto Rico — 18.14
10. Mexico — 16.41
Latin American countries hold all of the top-ten rankings of the most gun-related deaths.
It is no small matter that “a majority of immigrants currently coming to the United States originate from the Central American Northern Triangle, which consists of El Salvador [listed as #1 above], Guatemala [#3], and Honduras [#7]” (University of Michigan)
Latin America: A perfect storm of factors contributing to gun violence.
The Inter-American Development Bank released a report highlighting economic deprivation, residential instability, family disruption, absence from school, the population’s age structure, and alcohol consumption as contributing to increased gun violence.” (World Population Review)
“Transnational violence is often attributed to the countries’ locations between some of the world’s largest drug producers in South America and the world’s largest consumer of illegal drugs, the United States,” the U of M study stated.
The study’s original hypothesis was that “reducing the crime rates within Northern Triangle countries would in turn reduce immigration rates from these countries into the United States.”
But the study’s findings failed to support its hypothesis.
Despite the findings observed in this study failing to support the original hypothesis that reducing the crime rates within Northern Triangle countries would, in turn reduce immigration rates from these countries into the United States….
Why the mass migration?
It’s rational to assume that not all of the people coming here have upstanding motivations: Yuma, Arizona, residents, officials say Mexican cartels control the US border
It is also logical to conclude that people tend to bring their problems with them, including gun violence.
So, the long-standing question remains:
Would disarming law-abiding citizens make them and those near them safer or would it put them at greater risk if the government disarmed them from carrying their legally authorized concealed weapons as they passed by ballot drop boxes or entered election locations to vote?
Most gun deaths in the U.S. occur as a result of suicide.
The BBC chart (below) breaks down the number of gun-related deaths associated with suicide and homicide.
Countries with the Highest Rates of Firearm-Related Suicide (per 100,000) in 2019:
The U.S. leads the developed world in typical (median) death rates from mass shootings
Definitions of mass shootings vary and account for a small percentage of gun deaths in the United States. Other countries suffer periodic spikes in horrific mass shootings, but the U.S. leads the world in the typical (median) annual death rate per million.