Scholarly Comments on Academic Economics

Confirmation That the United States Has Six Times Its Global Share of Public Mass Shooters, Courtesy of Lott and Moody’s Data


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Public mass shooters almost always attack alone; this is common knowledge and has been consistently shown in previous research. Unfortunately, John Lott and Carlisle Moody ignore this fact. They include many forms of group violence in their analyses, such as massacres by hundreds of members of the Lord’s Resistance Army, and group attacks by soldiers, uniformed troops, paramilitary fighters, armed rebels, and terrorist organizations. Back in 2015, Lott claimed he cared about making fair comparisons with American mass shootings; now he has abandoned that pretense. As a result, Lott and Moody’s findings merely clarify what does not explain the type of mass shootings the United States does not have, anyway. Fortunately, Lott and Moody’s own data speak the truth they deny. They show that from 1998–2012, the United States had more than six times its global share of public mass shooters who attacked alone, and more than any other continent except Asia. This constitutes an independent replication and confirmation of similar findings from Lankford (2016) and several other scholars. Although Lott and Moody claim that America’s disproportionate mass shooting problem has nothing to do with its world-leading firearm ownership rate, so far that is the only explanation that has been empirically demonstrated.

This article is a response to Is the United States an Outlier in Public Mass Shootings? A Comment on Adam Lankford by John R. Lott, Jr., and Carlisle E. Moody (EJW, March 2019).