Do 98 percent of mass public shootings happen in gun-free zones?

“98 percent of mass public shootings in the United States since 1950 have taken place in gun-free zones.” — President Trump, speaking to the National Rifle Association , May 4 President Trump is prone to using bombastic statistics without much regard for the source, particularly when they support his opinions. When he claimed that “98 percent of all mass public shootings” had occurred in gun-free zones while speaking to the National Rifle Association, it caught our ear — after all, 98 percent is an awfully large share of anything. Before we dive in, there are two important caveats: There’s no agreed-upon definition of “mass shooting,” and “gun-free zone” is subject to interpretation. As we’ve reported , in the 1980s, the FBI established a definition for “mass murder” as “four or more victims slain, in one event, in one location.” Shooters are not included in the victim count if they committed suicide or were killed in a justifiable homicide, according to a Congressional Research Service report . But “mass murder” is not the same as “mass shooting.” The lack of consistency of definitions has led researchers to draw wildly different conclusions and has added ambiguity to something that, on face value, should be simple enough to determine. As with all statistics, it depends on how you count . Let’s dig in. The facts Trump is citing an updated 2014 report from the Crime Prevention Research Center. Founded by economist John R. Lott, CPRC is cited regularly by gun-rights advocates. Lott […]

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