Welcome to the Mass Shooting Tracker, as featured by CNN, MSNBC, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Economist and more.
The most obscene incidents of gun violence usually do not make the mainstream news at all. Why? Because the mainstream media's definition of “mass shooting” should more accurately be described as “mass murder”.
The current FBI definition of mass murder, commonly accepted by the media as a proxy for “mass gun violence”, is three or more people murdered in one event. We believe this does not capture the whole picture. Many people may survive a shooting based on luck alone. Some may be left with life long disabilities and trauma, but the mainstream definition of mass gun violence does not account for this.
Here at the Mass Shooting Tracker, we count the number of people shot rather than the number people killed because, “shooting” means “people shot”.
For instance, in 2012 Travis Steed and others shot 18 people total. Miraculously, he only killed one. Under the incorrect definition used by the media and the FBI, that event would not be considered a mass shooting! Arguing that 18 people shot during one event is not a mass shooting is absurd.
Our definition is this: a mass shooting is an incident where four or more people are shot in a single shooting spree. This may include the gunman himself, or police shootings of civilians around the gunman.
Besides the clarity provided by tracking mass shootings this way, another benefit is that it removes the factor of our miraculous modern medical care system from the equation. The gun lobby benefits from our tremendous ability to save those who would otherwise die, even though those gun shot victims are still just as shot and will never be the same. The NRA evades the gigantic costs of gun injuries to society and shifts the burden to taxpayers who often pay the costs for the medical care of the wounded.
Maintaining a list like this also punches a hole in the NRA argument that if mass shootings are televised, more mass shootings will occur via copycats. In fact, most of these shootings do not receive more than a day's worth of local coverage. Yet mass shootings continue to occur anyway. We believe mass shootings should receive more publicity, not less.
We refuse to ignore the victims of gun violence who survive mass shooting sprees, and we believe the media does a disservice to mass shooting victims by virtually ignoring them unless large numbers are killed.