Fact Check: Mass shootings are not on the rise (VIDEO)

04/9/13 7:38 AM | by

Mass Shootings

On Monday, President Obama visited the University of Hartford in Connecticut and gave, what some have described as an “impassioned,” speech on gun control.  

He urged, as he’s done now on several occasions, the nation to pressure Congress into voting on legislation that would implement universal background checks and ban so-called military style ‘assault’ weapons and magazines that hold more than 10 rounds.

“If you’re an American who wants to do something to prevent more families from knowing the immeasurable anguish that these families here have known, then we have to act,” Obama said.

“Now’s the time to get engaged. Now’s the time to get involved. Now’s the time to push back on fear and frustration and misinformation” he continued.  “Now’s the time for everybody to make their voices heard, from every statehouse to the corridors of Congress.”

The idea that we have to push back on fear and frustration and misinformation is a powerful one.  In fact, it’s totally a valid point.   As such, it might be best to revisit one of the more specious arguments coming from pro-gun control advocates: the notion that mass shootings are on the rise in America.

Mass Shootings 1980-2010 (Credit: Boston.com)

Mass Shootings 1980-2010 (Photo credit: Boston.com)

Of the experts who study mass murder, one name comes clearly to mind: Northeastern University Criminologist James Alan Fox, who has authored several books on the subject, including: “The Will To Kill: Explaining Senseless Murder” and “Violence and Security on Campus: From Preschool through College.”

In December, in the direct aftermath of the Sandy Hook tragedy, Fox was asked by the Associated Press if mass shootings were on the rise.

His answer: “There is no pattern, there is no increase.”

In a February interview with The Daily Beast, Fox explained the profile of a typical mass murder, providing more details on who these individuals are and why they feel compelled to kill innocents.

“Mass murderers are extraordinarily ordinary,” Fox told The Daily Beast.  “Most mass killers kill people they know, with a clear-cut motive. They typically plan their crimes in advance, often weeks or months in advance. They are calm, deliberate and determined to get justice for what they perceive to be unfair treatment.”

“The idea that they suddenly snap actually makes little sense,” Fox continued. “They snap and just so happen to have two AK-47’s and 2,000 rounds of ammunition around for just such an occasion? Hardly.”

So, given that most spree shootings are not crimes of passion or spur of the moment retaliation, it makes one question what gun control laws would actually work to stop these determined sociopaths.

In a recent article on Boston.com, Fox lamented the futility of most gun laws to prevent spree killers from carrying out unthinkable crimes.

“Most mass murderers do not have criminal records or a history of psychiatric hospitalization. They would not be disqualified from purchasing their weapons legally,” wrote Fox.

“People simply cannot be denied their Second Amendment rights just because they look strange or act in an odd manner,” he continued.  “Besides, would-be mass killers could always find an alternative way of securing the needed weaponry, even if they had to steal from family members or friends.”

Though, he also doubted whether armed guards would serve as a deterrent to a deranged gunman, who may already be prepared to die.

“As far as deterrence is concerned, it is hard to imagine anyone who is truly bent on mass murder, who is willing to die by police gunfire or by his own hand, will be dissuaded by knowing that their potential targets are armed,” wrote Fox.

At the end of the day, no matter what a society does, it seems that mass shootings will continue to occur.  Given this unpleasant reality, it comes down to a simple choice: do you want be armed or unarmed if/when it goes down?

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