Obama-Era Study Refuted, US Accounts for Less than 3% of ‘Mass Shootings’

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Obama-Era Study Refuted, US Accounts for Less than 3% of 'Mass Shootings'

Adam Lankford’s claims about mass shootings have been finally, firmly debunked. (Photo: University of Alabama)

In 2016, Adam Lankford, a criminology professor at the University of Alabama, authored a paper on mass shootings in the United States. He claimed that of the 292 public mass shooters worldwide between 1966 and 2012, 90 of them – 31 percent – operated in the United States. His study was quoted by President Obama, the New York Times, CNN, and numerous other mainstream media publications.

At the time of the paper’s release, Lankford told PRI, “The difference between us and other countries, that explains why we have more of these attackers, was the firearm ownership rate. In other words: firearms per capita.”

Lankford’s data was questioned at the time, but now his claims have been firmly debunked.

John Lott, economist and founder of the Crime Prevention Research Center, published a study last month that found 1,448 mass public shootings — and 3,081 shooters — outside the United States between 1998 and 2012. While the U.S. accounts for 4.4 percent of the world’s population, it accounts for only 2.88 percent of its mass shootings.

Lott found, in other words, 15 times as many mass killers outside the U.S. in less than one-third of the time frame. And unlike Lankford, who to this day refuses to publish his data, Lott includes a complete data set for all the countries he studied.

SEE ALSO: John Lott: Even Liberal Economists, Criminologists Turn Pro-Gun

“Here’s an amazing thing, [Lankford] refuses to provide his list of cases, he refuses to explain exactly how he got it. This is not just some normal academic study – President Obama many times cited this study as a source for his claims. I can’t find any other academic research that’s gotten so much worldwide attention,” Lott told Fox News.

Even the data Lankford has published indicates shoddy scholarship. In the Philippines, Lankford says he only found 18 mass shooters from 1966 to 2012, while Lott discovered 120 gunmen who carried out 52 mass murders between 1998 and 2012. In Russia, Lankford found 15 while Lott found 34. In Yemen, Lankford found 11 and Lott found 29.

Part of Lankford’s mistake, as noted by Real Clear Politics’ Carl M. Cannon, was using bad data from the New York Police Department. The NYPD conducted their own non-academic study to determine how other countries handle the threat of mass murders. Lankford used this data, even though the NYPD never claimed it was even remotely reliable.

SEE ALSO: Lott: 11 Cases Where Permit Holders Stopped Public Shootings

“The NYPD did not use special-access government sources to compile the cases,” the department admits in its 2012 report. “All information is open-source and publicly available.” The NYPD acknowledged that this method obviously “has a strong sample bias towards recent incidents.”

For his part, Lankford has refused to address any of his critics, including Lott. Real Clear Politics reports that Lankford didn’t explain in a phone interview how he supplemented the NYPD’s unreliable data. He also refused to send his raw data to the news outlet or “clear up basic questions.”

As for Lott’s study, Lankford declined an interview request by Fox News, and said he’s “not interested in giving any serious thought to John Lott or his claims.”

All of Lott’s data is publicly available in the massive 451-page appendix to his study.

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  • Jay September 10, 2018, 8:28 am

    These types of so called studies get posted in online news to the masses all the time as legit! The problem is that the truth is seldom told, or rather not told. Those tid bits are purposefully omitted to leave the agenda intact. This is exclusionary detailing,and furthering misconception on the public. What we have in the news media today is nothing more than a world wide planned operations to convey selected information and indicators to influence the emotions, motives, objective reasoning, and ultimately the behavior of organizations, groups, and individuals, PSYOP’s (psychological operation) the good news is not everyone can be affected by them like not everyone can be hypnotized!

  • Rick Miller September 9, 2018, 9:49 am

    The link below is too a Bill Whittle video discussing where we actually rank with respect to gun violence in th world… Well reasoned


  • Michael September 9, 2018, 3:22 am

    “Lankford declined an interview request … said he’s ‘not interested in giving any serious thought to John Lott or his claims.'” As a trained scientist I find this attitude the antithesis of the scientific method. He should be academically ostrasized.

  • Leighton Cavendish September 8, 2018, 10:18 am

    And what standard did they use for “mass”? 4 shot not including shooter? 10? 20? 50? – that can make a difference as well

  • Leighton Cavendish September 8, 2018, 10:15 am

    I am sure the Obama era study said something like: “in developed countries”…or “first-world countries”…specifically to exclude all the other countries with higher gun homicide rates

  • Deadmeat99 September 7, 2018, 9:17 pm

    It won’t matter, the communist left doesn’t care about facts, only propaganda.

  • Dr. Gene Sanders September 7, 2018, 6:52 pm

    I’ve spent 28 years of my life helping Agents and Police officers and as a result I’ve talked to many hundreds of police chiefs and sheriff’s and their are a few gun-related issues the so-called press never mention:
    1. The number of lives saved in the US each year is over 30,000 (no, you didn’t see too many zeros…) and one of the simple reasons for this is due to the numbers of lazy (or perhaps smart) criminals, i.e., they see a potential victim but then they note that either the victim is armed or there are willing guns nearby to help prevent that person being a victim. Result, no crime (the criminal goes elsewhere to look for an easier target). This number of non-crimes has been about the same for several decades now.
    2. American’s, God bless ’em, as STILL willing to help a friend, neighbor, or even a stranger, out of trouble–even at the risk of their own lives…pretty cool.
    3. Finally, lots of common sense Americans still do not believe the American far-Left press (or perhaps like me and, probably, millions of other Americans know the kindergarten truth, i.e., only a good-guy with a gun can stop a bad-guy with a gun, QED. And no amount of Propaganda from the Marxist in our press will change that.


    As to why these numbers are not made public, that’s easy too: a.) No report is made to the FBI regarding a crime, and b.) Because the criminal runs away when he sees someone determined NOT to be a victim…so no crime to report.

  • Boss September 7, 2018, 5:58 pm

    Have you noticed, these lefties cannot smile worth a damb. More like a snarky leer.

  • joefoam September 7, 2018, 4:39 pm

    Loved his response to Lott “I don’t even want to talk to you about my report”. And this guy is a professor paid by Alabama taxpayers to spew this BS and ‘educate’ our children.

  • Blaine September 7, 2018, 3:40 pm

    Sadly, this data (the debunking of an overestimated US mass shooting record) will not get much coverage in today’s strongly left-biased mass media. Anything that conflicts with popular beliefs is disregarded.

  • Doug Anderson September 7, 2018, 2:56 pm

    I don’t know how far back in time it is useful to use crime statistics. There have been too many social, economic and technological changes in recent years. If we could see the data, year by year, we could draw our own conclusions. I have no idea where to draw the line, but anyone who wants to weigh in should do so.

  • Michael Gray September 7, 2018, 1:31 pm

    Lankford looks like a pervert. And his :”research” seems perverted too.

  • G. Ling September 7, 2018, 11:26 am

    Langford should be (but won’t be) ashamed of his pseudoscience and should be shunned by all of his peers for the damage he has done to science.

  • Kevin September 7, 2018, 11:25 am

    SHOCKING, yes but not surprising. This type of irresponsible reporting is rampant among most major news networks and publications. It’s the biggest anti-american conspiracy I have seen in my 73 years on this planet. God help us.

  • Al September 7, 2018, 11:16 am

    ANY researcher who makes the statement Lankford made should be dismissed outright, as making such a statement put’s Lankford firmly in the ‘paid for’ category.
    He’s a shyster.

  • Dr Motown September 7, 2018, 8:09 am

    Bias in a gun study? SHOCKING….not

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