Weird - the Times actually looks at mass shootings (alternative definition) to try and glean some lessons about how effective our current gun laws are and how they might be changed.
Early on they serve some surprising takeaways:
Still, an examination of high-casualty shootings emphasizes not only how porous existing firearms regulations are, but also how difficult tightening them in a meaningful way may be.
The New York Times examined all 130 shootings last year in which four or more people were shot, at least one fatally, and investigators identified at least one attacker. The cases range from drug-related shootouts to domestic killings that wiped out entire families to chance encounters that took harrowing wrong turns.
They afford a panoramic view of some of the gun control debate’s fundamental issues: whether background checks and curbs on assault weapons limit violence; whether the proliferation of open-carry practices and rules allowing guns on college campuses is a spark to violence; whether it is too easy for dangerously mentally ill or violent people to get guns.
The findings are dispiriting to anyone hoping for simple legislative fixes to gun violence. In more than half the 130 cases, at least one assailant was already barred by federal law from having a weapon, usually because of a felony conviction, but nonetheless acquired a gun. Including those who lacked the required state or local permits, 64 percent of the shootings involved at least one attacker who violated an existing gun law.
Of the remaining assailants, 40 percent had never had a serious run-in with the law and probably could have bought a gun even in states with the strictest firearm controls. Typically those were men who killed their families and then themselves.
Only 14 shootings involved assault rifles, illustrating their outsize role in the gun debate. Nearly every other assailant used a handgun. That is in line with a federal study that concluded that reviving a 1994 ban on assault weapons and ammunition feeding devices that hold more than 10 rounds would have a minimal impact, at best, on gun violence.
Obviously we will have no trouble finding table-pounding progressives who will insist that if a bitter and divisive national debate that turns our gun laws upside down can save even one life it will be worth it. And I don't think for a nano-second this story will change the Times editors position on, for example, an assault weapons ban.
The Times holds out a slender reed for those progressives:
But there were also cases in which victims arguably would have lived had they been in a state with tighter firearms restrictions, because it would have been harder for their attackers either to get guns or to carry them in those circumstances. That includes several of nine attackers who were dangerously mentally ill but still met the federal standard for gun possession.
Well, now - as soon as the conversation swings towards tougher laws around the mentally ill, proper progressives remember that the mentally ill are victims, not bad guys. And they can massage the data to prove it!
Just to summarize that last link, progressives argue that the mentally ill are responsible for only about 4% of violent crime. However, that 4% figure is for people diagnosed with exclusively a mental disorder; people with a mental disorder and substance abuse issues are not counted as part of the mentally ill population for purposes of (under-)estimating their tendency to violence. If they were, the 4% figure would rise by a factor of 3 to 5.
Another laughable lefty stat [same link] defending the mentally ill was based on a survey of the Indiana prison population of homicide offenders. C'mon - plenty of famous mass shooters never went to trial, choosing instead to die at the scene. And that is common - per NY Times and Mother Jones surveys of mass killings, more than half of the killers cheat the hangman by dying at the scene.