Public Editor

Does ‘more than one mass murder a day’ figure stoke needless fear in the public?


It’s seldom that I address something that originated in a source other than The Star, but a reader made a point worth considering about a wire story that ran prominently on the front page of the Dec. 3 print edition.

Under the headline, “Mass shootings: they’re now a daily occurrence,” the New York Times piece looked at a compilation of incidents that led the writer to the conclusion that the nation has seen more than one shooting per day that left hour or more people injured or dead this year. The full version is on the Times’ website.

“I wish to express my disappointment in one of today’s front page articles that states in effect that ‘mass shootings are an everyday occurrence,’” wrote my emailer.

“I believe you will find that there are everyday criminal activities involving shootings that are incorrectly categorized as ‘mass’ shootings for no other purpose than to seemingly stoke fear and push a progressive/Marxist agenda. That agenda is total civilian disarmament among other things.”

He does note that the story specifically mentions that people who study this topic disagree strongly on whether the numbers really are increasing.

But his umbrella point is that lumping many incidents together as “mass shootings” — when they are often wildly disparate situations, and hardly acts of what most people would term terrorism — could create a climate of fear.

The majority of murder victims know their killers. While the danger of losing one’s life at a stranger’s hand is very real, it is also rare.