By the time the nation confronted the unthinkable school massacre in Connecticut last December, Mother Jones’ groundbreaking investigation of mass shootings, launched the prior summer, had shown that mass gun violence in America was on the rise. The trend appeared to be no coincidence in light of the proliferation of guns and looser gun laws nationwide. One leading criminologist took issue with our criteria, arguing that mass shootings had not become more common. But now, research from an expert on criminal justice at Texas State University further shows that gun rampages in the United States have escalated.
The research, to be published in a book in July, further confirms that:
Public shooting rampages have spiked in particular over the last few years
Many of the attackers were heavily armed
None of the shootings was stopped by an ordinary citizen using a gun
The author of the study, Pete Blair, advises law enforcement officials and has conducted extensive research on gun rampages in workplaces, schools, and other public locations. He gathered data on 84 “active shooter events” (ASEs) between 2000 and 2010 in which the killer’s primary motive appeared to be mass murder. This chart shows his findings on the frequency of cases:
The NRA operates much like climate science and evolution denialists: their job is to throw so much almost plausible but really false chaff into the wind that nobody can see the truth without extraordinary efforts.
Ever since the massacres in Aurora, Colorado, and Newtown, Connecticut, it’s been repeated like some surreal requiem: The reason mass gun violence keeps happening is because the United States is full of places that ban guns.
Second Amendment activists have long floated this theme, and now lawmakers across the nation are using it too. During a recent floor debate in the Colorado Legislature, Republican state Rep. Carole Murray put it this way: “Most of the mass killings that we talk about have been effected in gun-free zones. So when you have a gun-free zone, it’s like saying, ‘Come and get me.’”
The argument claims to explain both the motive behind mass shootings and how they play out. The killers deliberately choose sites where firearms are forbidden, gun-rights advocates say, and because there are no weapons, no “good guy with a gun” will be on hand to stop the crime.
With its overtones of fear and heroism, the argument makes for slick sound bites. But here’s the problem: Both its underlying assumptions are contradicted by data. Not only is there zero evidence to support them, our in-depth investigation of America’s mass shootings indicates they are just plain wrong.
Law enforcement sources say Adam Lanza was motivated by violent video games and a strong desire to kill more people than another infamous mass murderer.
Sources say Lanza saw himself as being in direct competition with Anders Breivik, a Norwegian man who killed 77 people in July 2011.
Breivik killed eight with a bombing in downtown Oslo. He then moved to a nearby island where hunted down and fatally shot 69 people, mostly teenagers attending a summer camp.
Two officials who have been briefed on the Newtown, Conn., investigation say Lanza wanted to top Breivik’s death toll and targeted nearby Sandy Hook Elementary School because it was the “easiest target” with the “largest cluster of people.”
Evidence shows that his mind, sources say, Lanza was also likely acting out the fantasies of a video game as he killed 20 first graders and six adults at the school. For Lanza, the deaths apparently amounted to some kind of “score.”
But Lanza ended his killing spree sooner than he intended. Unlike Breivik, who surrendered, Lanza killed himself as police closed in. Just before his suicide, Lanza fired some shots at police in the school’s parking lot.
Officials have not publicly revealed what led them to the motive, but sources say investigators have found evidence Lanza was obsessed with Breivik.
They’ve also recovered what they called a “trove” of video games from the basement of Lanza’s home. Sources say Lanza spent countless hours there alone, in a private gaming room with the windows blacked out, honing his computer shooting skills.
Lanza also made multiple visits to nearby gun ranges with his mother, Nancy Lanza, where they practiced together with actual weapons. Three guns, all registered to Nancy Lanza, were used in the Sandy Hook massacre. Lanza used a fourth weapon to kill his mother before his attack on the school.
EDITOR’S NOTE: In response to this piece, Lt. J. Paul Vance of the Connecticut State Police told CBS News that the investigation into the motive for the Newtown shooting has not been completed and therefore any statements about the shooter’s intent are mere speculation.
Just down the road from the scene of the December school massacre in Newtown, Conn., police in Stamford have discovered a home filled with bomb-making materials, assorted firearms, and white supremacist and anti-police propaganda.
Stamford police and FBI agents today identified and interviewed a middle-aged man who apparently had been illegally living in the home, triggering an inspection Wednesday by health inspections. The home is less than 700 feet from a middle school. The suspect, whose name hasn’t been released, has not been charged while authorities discuss whether to proceed with state or federal charges.
Police discovered loaded weapons including rifles and shotguns near entry points to the home, white supremacist and anti-police propaganda, a monitoring system to watch the outside of the home, and a reinforced escape tunnel that ran underground through the backyard, the Stamford Patch reported. They also found bombs that were being prepared with PVC pipes loaded with nuts and bolts that were apparently meant to serve as anti-personnel shrapnel.
In addition to swastikas, a poster inside the home depicted a police funeral with a derogatory message scrawled across it, Stamford Police Chief Jon Fontneau told the newspaper. Loaded firearms were discovered near entry points to the home.
“I’ve been on hundreds, if not thousands, of search warrants,” the chief said, “and I’ve never seen anything like this.”
Origins: A video widely circulated after the December 14 2012 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, which left 26 victims dead at that school purported to show many contradictions in facts surrounding the Sandy Hook shootings which established that the incident was a staged “hoax.” The information presented in that video was a mixture of misinformation, innuendo, and subjective interpretation, such as the following:
Who was behind the Newton Massacre? California Schoolteachers! (Says Fortune Magazine.)
FORTUNE — Do you know who owns more than a 6% stake in the maker of .223 Bushmaster rifles, like the one used last Friday to murder 20 first graders and seven adults in Newtown, Connecticut? California public schoolteachers
As a society, our first task must be to care for our children — to shield them from harm and give them the tools they need not only to pursue their dreams, but to help build this country. That is how we will be judged. And in the wake of the tragedy in Newtown, it’s clear we have a long way to go.
That’s why, last month, I asked Vice President Biden to lead an effort to come up with concrete steps we can take right now to keep our kids safe, help prevent mass shootings, and reduce the broader epidemic of gun violence in this country. And on Wednesday, I put forward a specific set of proposals based on Joe’s recommendations. Because while there is no law or set of laws that can prevent every senseless act of violence completely, if there is even one thing we can do to reduce this violence — if even one life can be saved — we have an obligation to try.
As President, I’m committed to doing my part. That’s why I signed 23 executive actions giving law enforcement, schools, mental health professionals, and the public health community the tools they need to help reduce gun violence.
Thank you for participating in We the People to speak out on an issue that matters to you.
Let’s not let arguments over the Constitution’s Second Amendment violate the spirit of its First. President Obama believes that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms. However, the Constitution not only guarantees an individual right to bear arms, but also enshrines the freedom of speech and the freedom of the press — fundamental principles that are essential to our democracy. Americans may disagree on matters of public policy and express those disagreements vigorously, but no one should be punished by the government simply because he or she expressed a view on the Second Amendment — or any other matter of public concern.
We recognize that the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, sparked an intense, and at times emotional, national conversation about the steps we can take as a country to reduce gun violence. In fact, your petition is one of many on the issue, and President Obama personally responded by sharing his views on this important issue.
In a recent press conference, President Obama also addressed the Second Amendment and the important perspective that law-abiding gun owners bring to the public conversation on this issue:
Look, like the majority of Americans, I believe that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms. This country has a strong tradition of gun ownership that’s been handed down from generation to generation. Obviously across the country there are regional differences. There are differences between how people feel in urban areas and rural areas. And the fact is the vast majority of gun owners in America are responsible — they buy their guns legally and they use them safely, whether for hunting or sport shooting, collection or protection.
But you know what, I am also betting that the majority — the vast majority — of responsible, law-abiding gun owners would be some of the first to say that we should be able to keep an irresponsible, law-breaking few from buying a weapon of war. I’m willing to bet that they don’t think that using a gun and using common sense are incompatible ideas — that an unbalanced man shouldn’t be able to get his hands on a military-style assault rifle so easily; that in this age of technology, we should be able to check someone’s criminal records before he or she can check out at a gun show; that if we work harder to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people, there would be fewer atrocities like the one in Newtown — or any of the lesser-known tragedies that visit small towns and big cities all across America every day.
Jay Carney is White House Press Secretary
Fox nation’s fake outrage article this morning summarized a Sun-Sentinel article offering the loony conspiracy theory that Barack Obama staged the Sandy Hook massacre.
A further clue about how nutty this is, the article says about the source of the claim, “Tracy said also has doubts about the official version of the Kennedy assassination, the Oklahoma City bombing, the 9-11 terror attacks and the Aurora, Colo., theater murders.”
Once the article appeared, it was followed by Foxbots posting to support the conspiracy theory and to proclaim the accusation was credible, for reasons such as saying they know Obama is someone who would do something like that.