Posted on August 7, 2019

‘Myth’: Narrative of Rampant White Nationalist Mass Shootings Overblown

Valerie Richardson, Washington Times, August 5, 2019

Seven times this year, a gunman has opened fire in a U.S. public place, killing at least three people. One shooter is suspected of being a white supremacist. One was an Elizabeth Warren supporter. And two were black.

Yet fears over rising white nationalist attacks after the El Paso massacre threaten to obscure what studies describe as the big picture about mass killings: that they represent a small fraction of annual gun deaths, that they are not surging, and that about half are committed by whites, not a share out of line with the general U.S. populace.

A May 2018 policy brief by the Rockefeller Institute of Government at the State University of New York, which looked at any incident that resulted in deaths or injuries and excluded gang violence or terrorist activity, found that the perception that whites are responsible for nearly all mass shootings is a myth.

“Despite common misperceptions that all mass shooters are white, the findings indicate that while a majority are, this proportion is just over half of the perpetrators (53.9 percent),” said the study, noting that almost all were men. “More than one in four shooters is black and nearly one in ten is of Hispanic descent.”

Amy Swearer, senior legal policy analyst at The Heritage Foundation, said about two-thirds of shooters are found to have serious mental problems but that the media coverage has focused on those with an ideological bent such as racism or nativism.


The FBI has reported 850 domestic terrorism investigations, 40% of which involve racially motivated violent extremism, and most of those involve white supremacists, according to The Wall Street Journal.


At the same time, the uproar over white nationalism has shifted the focus from what some researchers describe as the biggest drivers of mass shootings, including family breakdown, childhood trauma, mental illness, workplace crises, access to weapons and a fascination with previous shooters glorified in the media.

Warren Farrell, author of “The Boy Crisis,” said boys with minimal or no father involvement, or with “really messed-up families,” represent the vast majority of mass shooters, Islamic State recruits and the male prison population.


The Mother Jones mass shooting database, which defines such shootings at those resulting in three or more deaths, listed seven episodes so far this year, including the El Paso massacre, which left 22 dead.

Less than a day later, a gunman opened fire in an entertainment district in Dayton, Ohio, killing nine before he was slain by police. The shooter, who was white, called himself a pro-Satan “leftist” on social media and said he would vote for Ms. Warren.

Last year, the Mother Jones database listed 12 mass shootings. The suspects or offenders included five whites; five with Hispanic surnames (including accused Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz, who was adopted); one Asian American Army veteran, and one black woman.

In a 2017 report in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence, Northeastern University researcher Emma E. Fridel {snip} found white offenders committed 49.2% of the public mass killings — those committed in public places — and 47.9% of shootings of relatives or partners, but just 22.3% of the felony shootings, those that involve the commission of another crime. Black offenders committed 50.5% of felony mass killings, and the rest of those were listed as “other/mixed” race.


Whites made up about 72% of the U.S. population in 2010, according to the Census Bureau, though that number is expected to decline in 2020 and many Hispanics identify as “white” for census purposes.


“We do hear this number that we’ve had more mass shootings than dates. That’s not mass killings, [which are] four or more people shot,” Northeastern professor James Alan Fox said on Fox News.

“Half of the time, no one’s killed,” he said. “Seventy-five percent of the time, at most one victim. I don’t want to say they’re not important; they certainly are. But they’re not mass killings. People get confused.”