Have Barack Obama and Eric Holder Caused an Increase in Mass Murder?

Attorney General Eric Holder said today, in a speech to a convention of police chiefs, that mass shooting incidents have tripled in the last few years:

Between 2000 and 2008, the U.S. experienced an average of five mass shootings every year. Since then the annual average has tripled, Holder said. So far in 2013, there have been at least 12, he said.

According to Justice Department figures on mass shootings, 404 people were shot and 207 people were killed from 2009 to 2012. From 2000 to 2008, 324 people were shot and 145 were killed.

So Holder is telling us that since he took over as AG, mass shooting incidents have tripled. Normally that might be considered an admission against interest, inasmuch as he is the nation’s chief law enforcement officer. But of course Holder didn’t take any responsibility for the trend he described. As far as I can tell, Democrats are interested in crime only when it serves as an excuse for gun control; never as a reason to consider more effective law enforcement measures, or to step up prosecution and punishment of criminals.

I think Holder’s numbers are roughly correct. They are consistent with this report on “active shooter” incidents from 2000 to 2010. One wonders, though: why is Holder obsessed with “active shooters?” Such individuals, almost always deranged, are extraordinarily rare. Is it statistically meaningful for 12 such incidents to occur in a population of 315 million, as opposed to four or five? I doubt it. Yet the Obama administration loves to talk about “active shooter” incidents because they are always the predicate for silly gun control proposals.

Let’s look at a more meaningful measure of violent crime: the homicide rate. The FBI–which works for Eric Holder, in theory–puts out reliable numbers annually. Here are the data from 1993 through 2012:


America’s homicide rate is currently the lowest it has been in 20 years, less than half what it was in 1993, the beginning of the Clinton administration. The homicide rate has dropped even though–or because–handgun carry laws have been liberalized, more guns than ever have been sold, millions of “assault rifles” are in private hands, and Americans have taken more and more responsibility for their own defense. One would think that this happy development would merit more attention than a handful of incidents involving crazed, would-be mass murderers. After all, even at the elevated Obama-Holder rate, you are at least four times as likely to be struck by lightning as hit by an “active shooter.”

Still, Holder evidently thinks the increase of the last three years is significant. So one wonders: why has the Obama/Holder administration seen a tripling in attempted mass murders, even as the overall homicide rate has continued to decline? It might be coincidence. But it also may be that the hysterical publicity given to each such incident has encouraged others. During the last few years, the Democratic Party news media have enthusiastically promoted stories about “shooters,” hoping to aid the Obama administration in its gun control initiatives. That effort has been unsuccessful, but it may have had the unintended effect of encouraging other unstable individuals to seek the same sort of immortality that the Democratic media have conferred on, for example, Adam Lanza–a murderer who himself was clearly inspired by the fame that had been accorded his predecessors and idols. Perhaps next time Eric Holder gives a speech about the anomalous increase in incidents of attempted mass murder, he should look in the mirror.

Meanwhile, if you would like a little common sense on the issue of guns and gun control, here is NRA commentator Colion Noir:

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