Most Mass Shooters Are Not White

Boulder shooting
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This may shock you, but most mass shooters are not white. 

The American Left, including the Catholic political Left, hold onto certain narratives as if their lives depended on it. They hold on so tightly their knuckles—if you’ll pardon the expression—turn white. Hardly any narrative seems so important to them right now as “most mass shooters are white.” 

After the mass shooting in Las Vegas in October 2017, Newsweek said, “it wasn’t a surprise that it was committed by a white male.” The writer explained, “statistics show that since 1982, the majority of mass shootings—54 percent—were committed by white men.” 

In August 2019, Patrick Crusius killed 20 people in a mass shooting in El Paso. Not long after, Connor Betts killed nine people, including his sister, outside a bar in Dayton, Ohio. Sky News reported, “Their names now join a roll call of mostly white men attached to the atrocities.” 

Immediately after the recent mass shooting in Boulder, Hemal Jhaveri of USA Today said, “It’s always an angry white man. Always.” Vice-President Harris’s niece said definitively that the Boulder shooter was white. 

After Boulder, criminologist James Alan Fox told The Washington Post that, depending on the database, between 55 and 64 percent of mass shooters were white. 

But is this actually true? Or is this a particular narrative? Like many things, it depends on definitions, and what I have discovered is that the Left will turn definitional backflips to keep the “it’s always white guys” narrative. 

There is no agreed-upon definition of what counts as a mass shooter. Generally, there has to be four victims that could include the shooter himself. Some say it has to be at least four dead. Others say it must appear to be indiscriminate, random. 

The problem with these definitions is what they may exclude. They would exclude workplace shootings, for instance, since they are not indiscriminate or random. These definitions would also exclude someone rolling up on a street corner to kill a rival and killing a dozen bystanders. The definition of four dead would exclude someone who wounds twenty strangers but only ends up committing suicide. 

But, when you consider a mass shooting is at least four victims known or unknown, random or deliberate, the statistics reveal something the political Left wants us to ignore. Most mass shooters are not white. Most mass shooters are black. 

Consider that young black men make up less than 6% of the population. Yet, according to an aggregation of news sources, this demographic committed 68% of mass shootings in 2019, 73% of the mass shootings in 2020, and so far, 70% of mass shootings in 2021. For those same years, white men committed 14%, 14%, and 14%. Latinos held steady at 14%, 14%, and 16%. Asians committed 4% in 2019, and none in 2020 and 2021. 

Wikipedia keeps an extensive list of mass shootings in America. The list comes with links to news stories, so anyone can look them up with a few clicks. Two anonymous researchers have aggregated these numbers at a website called Mass-Shootings.info. Understand that all of these cases are gathered from a list compiled at Wikipedia and all come supplied with links to news source including, in some cases, not just local news but The New York Times and The Associated Press.  

On June 7, 2020, 20-year-old black man Antonio Johnson and two friends shot and killed two people and wounded seven. This is not considered a mass shooting for two reasons; it was a feud therefore it was not random, and only two were murdered rather than the requisite four. 

On June 27, 2020, 36-year-old black man Marlon Tucker gunned down three people and wounded one in Blytheville, Arkansas. This would not count as a mass shooting because the fourth victim did not die, and it appears Tucker knew the victims. 

In October 2020, a 34-year-old black man named Adrian McCrea used a gun to try and murder eight people. He failed all eight times and therefore is not a mass shooter. 

There are plenty of mugshots of white shooters at Mass-Shootings.info. On August 17, 2020, 60-year-old white man Michael Wettstein shot three and killed three and wounded one in Dayton, Texas. He, also, is not considered a mass shooter. 

Consider how idiosyncratic definitions can be. A man who enters a business and guns down 20 but only kills two is not considered a mass shooter. A man who enters a home and kills more than four is nonetheless not considered a mass shooter because he knew them. Some say you cannot count it as a mass shooting if it was not random. This would exclude all the mass shootings where postal employees shot up their places of work. Neither would it include the shooting at Fort Hood because the shooter knew many of the victims. 

I engaged the Catholic political Left on Twitter about this topic, yet they erected several roadblocks to protect the White-Guy narrative. They objected to the website Mass-Shootings.info because it has been created by two anonymous guys, one of whom had been banned from Twitter and the other who regrettably identified himself as “pro-white” in his Twitter bio. That is certainly three strikes against them, but then there are the links they provide. My interlocutors refused to look at the links, which were all news sources. They feared malware! 

Don’t trust these aggregators? Go to Wikipedia, from which they gathered the links. No, that’s Wikipedia. They simply refused to engage the data. 

One challenge to the data is that most of the perpetrators have not been identified and therefore the data could substantially change. In the 2019 data set, fully 58% have not been identified. That rose to 75% in 2020. The 2021 data so far show 53% unidentified. A look at national clearance rates for crimes shows this is not unusual. According to Statista, the national clearance rate for murder is 61.4%, aggravated assault is 52.3%, while violent crime overall has a paltry 45.5% clearance rate. By the way, if you want a relatively risk-free life of crime, choose car theft. The clearance rate for that is a measly 13.8%.

The flip side of this issue is that most of the victims of mass shootings are also black. Those holding tight to the white-shooter narrative seem indifferent to this reality. In 2017, The New York Times ran a lengthy story making the case that most of the victims of mass shootings are black but that these victims are ignored. They are right. 

I know why it is important to the Left that most mass shooters are white. It feeds the narrative that we live in a racist society. Why is it important for the rest of us to know that most mass shooters are not white? Why should Catholics care? As the institutional Church and Catholic laymen increase our examination of race and racism, it is vitally important the stories we consider are actually true. It is simply false that most mass shooters are white. We must have a full and truthful picture of any public policy problem before we can even approach a solution.

There is mayhem happening in American cities. We, Catholics and all others, must care about these victims as much as we care about the victims at Parkland, Las Vegas, and any of the more publicized sites of mass shootings. Asserting a false narrative helps no one except maybe the race hustlers.

[Photo Credit: Chet Strange/Getty Images]

By

Austin Ruse is a contributing editor to Crisis Magazine. His next book, Under Siege: No Finer Time to be a Faithful Catholic, is out from Crisis Publications in April.

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