Dayton Mayor Uses Misleading ‘250 Mass Shootings’ Figure


DAYTON, Ohio – Following the Dayton mass shooting early Sunday morning, Mayor Nan Whaley noted during the question portion of her 10:00am press conference that “250 mass shootings” had happened in the United States so far this year. That number became a talking point in Ohio and nationwide.

Dayton has gone through a really tough year. Three months ago, early in the morning, the day after Memorial Day I think we had not quite this many cameras, but a discussion about 14 tornadoes that ravaged our city. And now to, you know, be awakened in the middle of the night to a mass shooting and the 250th shooting in our country this year, happened in Dayton. What really goes through my mind is one thing is completely preventable, and, you know, I just question, when is enough enough.”

The number of mass shootings being claimed has confused some people. Others take what the politicians and pundits are saying as factual.

“Everyone is already saying this is the 250th mass shooting in the United States this year,” one woman who lives just four blocks from where the shooting occurred told The Ohio Star. “All I’ve thought all morning is shock. I’ve already seen [the politicization] in those posts people are using [the 250 number] for their political view. It’s awful. People have really been in arguments all morning based on racism and politics.”

One source of the “250” is Gun Violence Archive (GVA), a website that purports to collect comprehensive data “for the national conversation regarding gun violence.”

GVA states, “Our definition of gun violence is intended to be fully inclusionary of disparate elements of gun related incidents…in that, all types of shootings are included, whether OIS (officer involved shooting), accidental, children shooting themselves, murders, armed robberies, familicide, mass shootings, DGU (defensive gun use), Home Invasions, drivebys and everything else.”

The number went viral. Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib tweeted “251 mass shootings in the United States in 216 days.” The Twitterverse retweeted and doubled down.


The issue surrounding the “250 mass shootings” claim was explained by Dr. John Lott, President at the Crime Prevention Research Center. He said there is a difference between “mass public shooting” and “mass shooting.”

“Mass shootings have different definitions. A ‘mass public shooting’ is where somebody is trying to shoot people in public, where they are trying to harm as many people as possible and it’s not part of some other type of crime. It wouldn’t be part of a robbery or something like that. And those are the ones that get the national news attention. Traditional FBI definition is 4 people or more killed besides the attacker,” said Dr. John Lott.

“A mass shooting is a much broader category and it’s where 4 or more are shot and it could include the attacker. Sometimes no deaths occur. Overwhelmingly these are going to be gang shootings and the rest will be linked to some kind of crime that occurred. Generally the national media does not cover these types of shootings. They are the kind of shootings that occur in areas like Chicago,” Lott added.


Dr. Lott was interviewed by Canada’s CTV to discuss the shootings and stated, “Americans may have a lot of guns, but it doesn’t do them any good if the attackers attack a place where guns are banned.” He was referencing the El Paso shooter’s manifesto and the Dayton shooter’s choice of a bar area where guns would not be permitted.

“We’re going to be no more able to stop criminals or people who want to do those types of attacks from getting illegal guns then we’ve been able to stop them from getting illegal drugs,” he concluded.

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Beth Lear is a reporter at The Ohio Star.  Follow Beth on Twitter.  Email tips to [email protected].






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