The nation's leading
scholar of mass shootings explains how media coverage of horrific events
such as El Paso and Dayton stoke unwarranted fear and anxiety.
The horrific mass killings in El Paso and Dayton have understandably
inspired terror in America and calls for expanded gun
control, predictive policing, and mental health interventions designed
to reduce violence.
But Northeastern University
criminologist James Alan Fox, the leading researcher on the topic for
the past 35 years, tells Reason, "There is no evidence that we are in
the midst of an epidemic of mass shootings."
The number of
incidents and casualties are simply too small to make such claims and,
he stresses, the media coverage of shootings often ends up creating a
false sense that gun violence—which is at or near historic lows—is
ubiquitous and growing.
In a wide-ranging interview with Nick
Gillespie, Fox explains the common characteristics of mass killers, why
violent crime involving guns has declined over the past several decades,
and how cable TV and social media contribute to a false sense of panic.