NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

New York Times Published Phony Research On "Rampage Killings" Says John Lott Jr.

April 28, 2000

John Lott Jr., a specialist on the connection between guns and crime, charges that the New York Times cooked up some gun-violence statistics to make it appear the problem is growing worse, when the evidence shows otherwise.

In particular, in a series of articles on "rampage killings" this month, the paper declared its research "confirmed the public perception that they appear to be increasing."

The Times defined rampage killings as public attacks with multiple victims where at least one person was killed, other than in robberies or political killings.

  • While the Times reported that exactly 100 such attacks took place during the 50 years between 1949 and 1999, with more than half during the five years from 1995 to 1999, Lott says the paper simply left out most cases prior to 1995.
  • His own research reveals there were an average of 17 rampage killings per year between 1977 and 1995 -- but the Times came up with an average of only 2.6 attacks.
  • Only by consistently counting most recent cases and ignoring most old ones was the Times able to claim mass killings have been on the increase.
  • He says that contrary to the Times figures, there is no upward national trend at least since the mid-1970s.

The number of public shootings per 10 million people actually fell from 1 in 1985 to 0.5 in 1995.

Lott's research has shown that the only gun policy that correlates with a reduction in rampage killings is the passage of right-to-carry laws. But, he notes, "the Times does not even mention this measure."

Source: John Lott Jr. (Yale University Law School), "Rampage Killing Facts and Fantasies," Washington Times, April 26, 2000.


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