Recently some questionable shooting statistics were released, saying that there have been 74 school shootings since Sandy Hook. After the release of this incorrect information, CNN ran a story on this very subject, and it was refreshing to see them report unbiased facts. First of all, CNN only found 15 situations that could truly be classified school shootings, and of those fifteen, only one could be classified as a mass shooting (at least 4 victims). Criminologist James Alan Fox compiled data for all mass shootings in the last 35 years, which showed a relatively flat trend line. Some spikes and troughs are seen in certain years, but interestingly enough, mass shootings were more common in the early 1990’s than they have been in recent years.
So what has changed? Well, two of the most significant differences are social media and the 24 hour news cycle. Bad people with even worse intentions have always been around, but in the past we had not been quite as exposed to the news about it.
Recently I read an article titled “GA Man Wounds 20+, Kills 5+ with Double Barreled Shotgun, is Taken Out by Citizen Armed with Handgun”. According to the article, however, this headline is from the New York Times on March 17, 1915, which means that it occurred before the “evil” AR-15 was even in the picture, and long before Facebook or Twitter, so most likely, those who didn’t read the newspaper never heard about it.
On March 16, 1915, Monroe Phillips, a well respected businessman in Brunswick, GA went on a killing spree after a business deal gone bad. The original article read, “Angered by losses in a real estate deal, Monroe Phillips, a lead business man, ran amuck today with an automatic shotgun and killed five men and wounded twenty others before he himself was killed. Phillips was shot dead by E.C. Butts, a lawyer, while he was trying to fire upon citizens who appeared in the street.” You may notice that the article referred to the shotgun as “automatic” (even though it was definitely not), so that is not exactly a new mistake.
One of the people shot and killed was police officer Deaver, who was able to wound Phillips before losing his life. At this point, Mr. Butts, also shot by Phillips, rushed to a hardware store, where he obtained a pistol, and began firing at Phillips, eventually injuring and killing him. This is one of the earliest documented defensive gun uses of an armed citizen stopping a mass murder in the history of the United States.