An FBI report used by the Obama White House and liberal news outlets to push for stricter gun laws was manipulated the to show a non-existent increase in mass shootings — and save the Senate’s Democrat majority in 2014, the Wall Street Journal reported this week.
The report, released just before the 2014 midterm elections, appeared to show mass shootings increasing at an unbelievable rate of 16 percent a year, a number Democrat candidates and the president used to attack Republican support for the Second Amendment.
However the report’s authors, J. Pete Blair and M. Hunter Martaindale, claimed in an academic journal last week that the media “got it wrong” when it “mistakenly reported mass shootings were on the rise.”
But as Jason Riley reports in the Wall Street Journal (subscription required), the academics certainly didn’t rush out to correct the record when the report was being publicized just weeks before voters went to the polls.
And with control of the Senate in the balance for the final two years of the Obama administration — the stakes were sky high.
John Lott Jr., an economist who has been studying gun violence for more than three decades, told the Journal that the authors appeared to manipulate the data in an effort to cultivate an anti-gun agenda.
According to the FBI report, mass shooting attacks were up by an average annual rate of 16 percent between 2000 and 2013. Lott argued this time frame is evidence of a deliberate bias to show an increase in attacks.
“Anyone who has studied these trends knows that 2000 and 2001 were unusually quiet and had few mass shootings,” Lott told the Journal.
The numbers themselves are also being called into question after Blair and Martaindale admitted they had to stray from official figures and reports.
“Because official data did not contain the information we needed, we had to develop our own,” wrote the two academics. “This required choices between various options with various strengths and weaknesses.”
One of those weaknesses was that their report omitted up to 20 mass shooting cases, primarily in the beginning of their selected timeframe. That helped skew the results to show a trend toward ever-increasing gun violence.
“There’s one case where nine people were murdered. You just don’t miss that,” Lott said.
Blair and Martaindale acknowledged their “imperfect” data, but tried to justify it in an article they wrote for the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences.
“We feel providing imperfect but relevant data is preferable to allowing police and other first responders to operate in the dark,” they wrote.
Given the attention the report received from an anti-gun White House and liberal news organizations – just prior to an important election cycle – it seems the only “relevant” thing about their report was its usefulness to anti-gun politicians.
But considering how the 2014 elections turned out, not even the gun-grabbers’ lies were enough.