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Understanding ‘Mass Shootings’

A worker hangs a custom made AR-15 style rifle on a wall at Davidson Defense in Orem, Utah on February 4, 2021. - Gun merchants sold more than 2 million firearms in January, a 75% increase over the estimated 1.2 mill... A worker hangs a custom made AR-15 style rifle on a wall at Davidson Defense in Orem, Utah on February 4, 2021. - Gun merchants sold more than 2 million firearms in January, a 75% increase over the estimated 1.2 million guns sold in January 2020, according to the National Shooting Sports Federation, a firearms industry trade group. The FBI said it conducted a record 4.3 million background checks in January. If that pace continues, the bureau will complete more than 50 million gun-related background checks by the end of the year, shattering the current record set in 2020, according to a new report from Bespoke Investment Group. (Photo by GEORGE FREY / AFP) (Photo by GEORGE FREY/AFP via Getty Images) MORE LESS
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June 9, 2022 10:34 a.m.

On the long list of excuses and deflections gun rights activists use to shut down any talk of gun regulation, one critical angle comes down to numbers. Mass shootings, school shootings, gun massacres — whatever you want to call them — only make up a tiny percentage of the number of people killed every year by guns in the United States. That’s true. Relatedly, AR-15s, the mass shooters’ firearm of choice, account for only a tiny percentage of overall firearms deaths in the United States. That’s true. Indeed, some noted that the 10 African-Americans murdered in a Buffalo supermarket on May 14th may not even have been a majority of the African-Americans killed by firearms on that single day. Using these very real numbers, gun rights activists portray supporters of assault weapons bans, bans on high capacity magazines and the rest as reactive and innumerate. It’s similar to the way that gun activists sometimes try to shut down restriction conversation by noting how people horrified by all the carnage don’t know all the technical differences between this gun and that one.

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