Category Archives: #ENOUGH

How many dead? Database discrepancies…

By Roger Straw, August 6, 2019

Well, of course one death by the hand of a mass shooter is too many.

But the numbers are important, and how are we to know the facts when we read widely varying reports:

    1. “At least 60 people have died in the U.S. from mass shootings in 2019 alone”  – Vallejo Times-Herald on Aug. 6
    2. Prior to the El Paso shooting, “20 mass killings in the US in 2019 claimed 96 lives.”  – The Guardian on Aug 4
    3. “The Ohio mass shooting was the 293rd this year, accounting for 345 killed.”  – The Benicia Independent on Aug 4

Yes, one is too many, but what is the real story of America’s gun violence problem?  How to report with a sense of accuracy?  And how are readers to make sense of the wide discrepancies?

#1 – First, it is likely that the Aug 6 Vallejo Times-Herald headline (60 killed) is just an error.  I can find no other news article making that claim, and the headline is not referenced in the body of the two Associated Press news reports below the headline.

#2 – The Aug 4 Guardian article (96 killed) refers to “a database compiled by the Associated Press, Northeastern University and USA Today.”  The database only counts shootings where four or more people killed, not including the shooter.  Using this methodology, the shooting in Dayton was only “the 22nd mass killing in the US this year.  The first 20 mass killings in the US in 2019 claimed 96 lives.”

#3 – My own reporting here on the Benicia Independent relies on two very similar databases with shockingly higher numbers: MassShootingTracker.org and GunViolenceArchive.org.  Both of these track all shootings where 4 or more people are SHOT (not just those where 4 or more are killed).  The justification for this as stated by example on MassShootingTracker is convincing: “…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.”  One difference between these two is that MassShootingTracker includes the death of the shooter, while GunViolenceArchive does not.  Thus, they give these numbers for 2019 as of today, Aug 6:

Database – Mass Shootings in 2019 Incidents Killed Wounded
MassShootingTracker.org 298 353 1162
GunViolenceArchive.org 253 275 1055

Only using the more detailed mass shootings data can we understand that in the 218 days of this year, the U.S. is experiencing more than one mass shooting every day.

This is a crisis.

Congress needs to act.  Now.

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    Not just 2 mass shootings – SEVEN mass shootings in two days, and another today!

    By Roger Straw, August 5, 2019

    Thank you, Donald Trump… now… #DOSOMETHING Mitch McConnell!

    The Hope Border Institute held a prayer vigil Sunday in El Paso, Texas. PHOTO: MARK LAMBIE/ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Everyone is talking about the mass murders in El Paso and Dayton.  And well we should be talking – and doing something – about those horrors.

    Thank goodness even our racist President made a powerful speech condemning hate, racism and white supremacist ideology.

    MassShootingTracker.org

    But few are aware that on August 3 and 4, it wasn’t just TWO mass shootings.  On those two days, SEVEN mass shootings in the U.S. were reported on MassShootingTracker.org, and another was reported early today on August 5:

    date killed wounded city state
    8/5/2019 0 4 Brooklyn NY
    8/4/2019 0 4 Grenada Co. MS
    8/4/2019 10 16 Dayton OH
    8/4/2019 1 3 Memphis TN
    8/3/2019 1 7 Chicago IL
    8/3/2019 0 7 Chicago (Douglas Park) IL
    8/3/2019 20 26 El Paso TX

    As I reported yesterday, mass shootings have become an everyday occurrence.  By the time I finish this, there might be yet another.

    RR-Tx-Oh-080419A_desktop
    Click to go to EVERYTOWN FOR GUN SAFETY petition

    Grieving and angry protesters in Dayton shouted Do Something!  Holding candles and lights high overhead, over and over again, #DOSOMETHING!  #DOSOMETHING!  #DOSOMETHING!  #DOSOMETHING!  #DOSOMETHING!

    Our legislators in Washington have rallied after any number of mass assault-weapon murders, but with little to no effective results.  It has become an all-too-familiar cry to hear something like “thoughts and prayers are not enough.”  But the public has gotten mostly just that, thoughts and prayers.

    US Reprentative Mike Thompson, California’s Fifth District

    My congressional representative Mike Thompson has led the bipartisan House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force since 2012, but every time the House proposes gun control measures, either it fails in the House, or Senate leader Mitch McConnell and the Trump Republicans refuse to even allow a vote.

    There are excellent legislative opportunities and worldwide guidance on how to stem the flow of these horrific attacks.  If only… if only, our federal government would take action.

    Another sad day in the United States.

    Related image
    Click to go to Everytown.org
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      Gun control links – renewed call to VOTE THEM OUT!

      By Roger Straw
      [Originally published in the spring of 2018 following the Parkland, FL mass shooting, republished here in November 2018 following mass shootings in Pittsburgh, PA and Thousand Oaks, CA.  – R.S.]

      School shootings and other mass murders will never stop until we elect new leaders who are willing to stand up to the NRA.  Below you will find links to organizations dedicated to ending gun violence.  Many are focusing on electing new leaders who stand for change.  Please click on at least one today – sign a petition, make a contribution, join or start a new group.  Renew your commitment to resist!

      National

      Everytown For Gun Safety (everytown.org/throwthemout/)

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      Guns Down America (gunsdownamerica.org/)


      States United to Prevent Gun Violence (ceasefireusa.org/)

      States United to Prevent Gun Violence


      Indivisible (indivisible.org)


      The Campaign to Keep Guns Off Campus (keepgunsoffcampus.org/)


      Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence (lawcenter.giffords.org/take-action/)


      Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (csgv.org/)


      California & Benicia

      Bay Area Student Activists (bayareastudentactivists.org/)

      Bay Area Student Activists


      Benicia March For Our Lives (facebook.com/groups/529647794085732/)


       

      North Bay|#NEVERAGAIN (twitter.com/nbayNEVERAGAIN)

      North Bay|#NEVERAGAIN


      northbayneveragain (instagram.com/northbayneveragain/)


      Women Against Gun Violence (wagv.org/)


      Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, California Chapters (bradycampaign.org/)

      Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence logo


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        Not what I expected: Mike Thompson on gun violence

        By Roger Straw
        U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson – Gun Violence Prevention Task Force  mikethompson.house.gov/issues/gun-violence-prevention

        An influential Benicia resident (who wishes to remain anonymous) wrote to me on May 22, highly concerned over our Rep. Mike Thompson’s moderate statements on the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force page on his website.  Her email subject line was “Not what I expected: Mike Thompson on gun violence.”  She wrote:

        Rep. Mike Thompson, District 5, has been chair of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force in the US House of Representative for several years. Here is his disturbing current statement on the Task Force site: note: there are links on the site about his gun prevention plans.  From his website…

        “As a hunter and gun owner I believe we should protect a law-abiding individual’s Second Amendment right to own firearms. As a dad and grandfather I also believe that we have a responsibility to make our schools, streets and communities safe. We can do both, but Congress will need to step up.

        After being named chair of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force in the U.S. House of Representatives, I held a series of open town halls in our district that examined some of the actions that Congress could take. Hundreds attended these meetings. I heard views from law enforcement officials, mental health experts, school officials, NRA members and gun control advocates. Many feared that their Second Amendment rights would come under attack when my task force made its recommendations to Congress. Others wanted to cast those rights aside.

        I believe both views are too extreme. I will never give up my guns and I will never ask law-abiding Americans without a history of dangerous mental illness to give up theirs. Not only am I personally against this, the Constitution does not allow it. In District of Columbia v. Heller the Supreme Court affirmed once and for all that Americans have a right to keep and bear arms.

        However, just as the First Amendment protects free speech but doesn’t allow you to incite violence, the Second Amendment has restrictions too. As conservative justice Anthony Scalia outlined, Heller does not prohibit laws forbidding firearms in places such as schools, nor does it restrict laws prohibiting felons and the mentally ill from carrying guns.

        This ruling provides people on both sides of the issue with an opportunity to work within the confines of the Second Amendment and pass legislation that will reduce and prevent gun violence.”

        I wrote back, detailing Mike’s stated views on assault weapons: “After the Parkland FL school shooting in February … Mike held a Benicia town Hall on March 17, where he very clearly, more than once, stated that ‘military grade automatic and semi-automatic assault weapons do not belong in the hands of citizens.'” (See Mike Thompson makes news in Benicia: ‘military grade assault weapons do not belong in citizens’ hands’.)

        I wrote to Thompson’s staff, sharing our concern about the Gun Violence Prevention page on his website, and suggesting they update the page to show Mike’s evolving views on this subject.  “I hope you will pass this on to Mike and make an effort to update the website, calling for new and more stringent controls on guns, with special attention to military grade automatic and semi-automatic assault weapons.”

        I heard back that same day with a promise to pass our concern on to Mike’s communications director in Washington D.C., Alex Macfarlane.

        As of today, there have been no updates on Mike’s Gun Violence Prevention page.  Similarly, I can find no mention of assault weapons or automatic / semi-automatic weapons on Thompson’s Facebook page.  I hope to hear from his office about changes, and will report here with updates.

        Contact Rep. Mike Thompson – ask him what is his position on banning military grade automatic and semi-automatic assault weapons:

        Roger Straw
        Benicia

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