Some Additional Possible Covariates for Mass Shooting Casualties

Following up on the other candidate variables in this post.

Figure 1: Mass shooting deaths (black), wounded (gray), both 12 month trailing moving average. February observation for data through 2/23. Source: Mother Jones and author’s calculations.

Figure 2: NRA contributions by election cycle, by party of recipient. 2018 cycle figure is to-date. Source: Open Secrets, accessed 2/23.

Figure 3: NRA lobbying expenditures. Source: Open Secrets, accessed 2/23.

51 thoughts on “Some Additional Possible Covariates for Mass Shooting Casualties

  1. joseph

    Direct lobbying by the NRA is just a tiny part of the picture. The NRA has an annual budget of nearly $300 million. They spent over $30 million of that on support just for Trump in the 2016 election.

    But the NRA’s real strength isn’t just money. It’s their rabid army of one-issue voters. A Democrat can get elected regardless of the NRA’s efforts because the NRA is not their base. But a Republican, even in a deep red district, cannot get elected if the NRA directs its voters against them. NRA voters are a make or break portion of their base. That is why Republican politicians are in lockstep with the NRA. The NRA can literally decide if a Republican wins or loses.

  2. joseph

    What will be interesting is to see the results of the FBI’s current investigation of contributions from Russia to the NRA. It might show illegal political money laundering to influence U.S. elections.

    What is it with conservatives and their love affair with brutal authoritarians and corrupt oligarchies? I think it is just a pathological fascination with violence.

    1. CoRev

      Joseph,”…conservatives and their love affair with brutal authoritarians and corrupt oligarchies? I think it is just a pathological fascination with violence.”
      and this:
      “What will be interesting is to see the results of the FBI’s current investigation of contributions from Russia to the NRA.”
      Where do you come up with this BS?

        1. CoRev

          Menzie, thanks, I had not seen any reference. I did note while reading your referenced article: “The story also says it is unclear what evidence, if any, the FBI has of payments facilitated by Torshin to the NRA or whether the group transferred any funds.

          CNN has not independently verified McClatchy’s report.”

          Sounds pretty weak. Perhaps less weak than this:

        1. Moses Herzog

          Bruce Hall
          Bruce, not accounting for PeakIgnorance, you appear to be the great intellect of this group. Can you confirm or deny whether the murders of 17 students and teachers in Parkland Florida started with a mathematical sign?? Maybe parents should just sit around and wait for gunfire sounds coming from inside the school?? You understand, we’re all looking for your thoughtful guidance Bruce.

          Also, Bruce, did you want to start a support group, meeting twice a week, for the traumatized boy who wrote the square root sign?? Or is that “snowflake” like behavior you think??

          I know you “conservatives” are super tough guys Bruce. I know Trump’s EPA Administrator, (Republican) Scott Pruitt is still trying to recover from a tough flight. Pruitt was in the coach section of the plane, or the “economy” section, and some liberal tagged his shoulder and told Pruitt “You got the Cooties now!!!”. Ever since then Pruitt has been in counseling.

          From Umair Irfan of Vox:
          The EPA has cited security as the reason Pruitt springs for more leg room, early boarding, and free drinks. Since taking office, Pruitt has surrounded himself with a 24/7 security detail, built a secret phone booth at the EPA’s headquarters, and swept his office for surveillance bugs.
          Pruitt told Bloomberg that these steps were necessary because he faces “unprecedented” threats.
          But then he told the New Hampshire Union Leader Tuesday that he flies in first class to avoid uncivil interactions with other travelers.
          “Unfortunately, … we’ve had some incidents on travel dating back to when I first started serving in the March-April timeframe,” he said. “We’ve reached the point where there’s not much civility in the marketplace and it’s created, you know, it’s created some issues and the (security) detail, the level of protection is determined by the level of threat.”

          1. Bruce Hall

            Moses, I presume parting the Red Sea has left you permanently fatigued so I’ll disregard some of the babbling.

            These events are horrible and yet, as H. L. Mencken once said, “For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.” The reaction at the school was certainly clear, simple, and wrong.

            Let’s look at some of the thought from there and elsewhere:
            • Let’s have background checks to weed out people who are mentally unstable. That certainly sounds like a good idea. Who decides? If you have a political perspective different from the reviewer, does that qualify as mentally unstable? A committee? Is that even workable with thousands of permits being requested weekly?
            • Let’s raise the age of gun ownership to 21. Okay, did that same restriction effectively stop smoking and drinking? To be consistent, would we prohibit anyone younger than 21 to join the military where they might have to handle military versions rifles that are even more powerful? Does the military recruitment process really screen out violent types?
            • Let’s ban large capacity magazines. Sounds good. That slows down a proficient shooter by maybe a second which might make a difference, but probably not much in a shelter and hide scenario.
            • Let’s ban “assault rifles”. Sounds good because “assault rifle” sounds ominous even though it is functionally identical to that rifle with a conventional composite or wooden stock called a “hunting rifle”. Besides the target for the ban is a .223 caliber rifle which is less powerful than the popular .308 models.
            • Let’s confiscate “assault rifles”. See above and add the century of lawsuits that follow. Will the U.S. pay $1,000 each for the rifles? Well, I don’t like your SUVs so let’s confiscate those.
            • Arming teachers is useless and dangerous. Ohio and other states have done it successfully, but for discussion sake let’s go with the Broward County Sheriff’s response unit… surround and wait.

            When you get down to it, one can make an argument against any product where multiple people can die. There are some things that can be done to provide a degree of protection in public venues against violent people. For schools, I’d suggest the same level of protection as Congress, the Supreme Court, or the White House receive; schools are more important. For public venues where hundred or thousand congregate, there can be some level of security, but never absolute guaranteed safety. A gunman or machete wielder, a delivery truck with or without explosives, arsonists, and others with enough planning can all create serious damage to many people. Those knives in your kitchen are identical to those used to murder people or subdue a rape victim. Plastic anyone?

            When all is said and done, these events become focal points… excuses… for demanding more control and less freedom for the vast number of Americans because of the actions of a very few. How do you like TSA by the way?

  3. PeakTrader

    Instead of shifting blame and attacking the NRA, we need to protect children from the failures of law enforcement and public schools.

    Obviously, government cannot protect citizens from social unrest, and from government itself.

    1. Dave

      “Obviously, government cannot protect citizens from social unrest, and from government itself.”

      Ummm. PT, the government did not shoot all those children in Florida. A gun owning private citizen did. Also, a single actor is not social unrest. Unless you are trying to say that there is a social movement in favor of shooting up schools . . . . In which case, the government would be very well suited to rounding up these evil people.

      Regardless, once again PT is unhinged from reality.

        1. Dave

          The biggest failure of government here was to fail to have stricter gun control laws. What’s your plan? Arm the teachers? Can you appreciate the nonsense you are spouting?

      1. PeakTrader

        Law enforcement and the public school were unable to protect 17 children lives from one well known nut case.

        How will they protect innocent people from civil unrest, particularly when liberal politicians allow it?

        I’m giving you a clue about reality.

        1. Dave

          “How will they protect innocent people from civil unrest, particularly when liberal politicians allow it?

          I’m giving you a clue about reality.”

          A clue about reality? Please. The solution is simple: strict gun control laws. Make it onerous to own guns. The are many ways to achieve this. Very high taxes. Mandatory and frequent retraining of basic gun safety rules and procedures with huge penalties/forefeiture of guns for failure to meet said mandatory requirements. The only thing that is difficult about this are the simple-minded folks like PT and CoRev who see the success of strict gun control laws throughout the rest of the developed world and concoct absurd rationales to explain why this success couldn’t be replicated here.

          1. PeakTrader

            Dave, obviously, you’re the simpleton. Why do many countries have more homicides with fewer guns, and have more crimes? Why do some European countries have more mass shootings with strict gun control laws? Why not ban alcohol, illegal drugs, cars, etc. when they kill people? Let’s water down or just get rid of the Bill of Rights. Big government will take care of you.

  4. Not Trampis

    why do you guys allow anyone to have assault weapons? That is insane.

    just copy and paste what we do down under

    1. CoRev

      NT, because we are far different than sown under. Once you have an equivalent 2nd amendment, and your population matches that of the US then we may be able to make like comparisons.

      1. Not Trampis

        Have no idea on your 2nd amendment but on a per capita basis you blokes are outliers for people murdered by firearms.

    2. PeakTrader

      The U.S. is not Australia.

      Mass shootings are rare in the U.S. compared to many European countries adjusted for population.

      Why don’t you complain to them?

    3. Moses Herzog

      I appreciate your sentiment, and it’s flattering and moving when people outside of America take an interest in our well-being (NO sarcasm there). Many countries handle gun rights better than America. Not just Australia. This is from Malcolm Brabant, who is my favorite video journalist on anything related to the Euro Area (and Britain);

      BTW, I am for the common man being able to purchase guns and keep them. But there is a “happy medium” between a bullied and kow-towing citizen population like China, and a country that seemingly celebrates blood-baths like America. Frankly, I don’t think that “happy medium” is hard to find when we take the NRA and right-wing nutjobs out of the equation

  5. joseph

    Instead of shifting blame and attacking the NRA …

    But the NRA is at the center of the proliferation of dangerous weapons in the U.S. This isn’t an impossible problem. Every other developed country on the planet has done a better job than the U.S. and the NRA is a big reason why. The NRA is certainly not a distraction from the issue. They are at the heart of it.

    And if the NRA is colluding with the Russians in the subversion of democracy in the U.S., well, that is a big deal — far from shifting blame.

    1. PeakTrader

      Don’t be a fool, attacking the NRA, which helps protect law-abiding Americans from criminals and deters crime, deflects the incompetence of government.

        1. PeakTrader

          You don’t believe in deterrence.

          How many mass shootings took place in gun free zones?

          That deputy about to retire at the school apparently didn’t want to risk his life in a mass shooting.

          Do you believe criminals want their victims to have guns?

          1. 2slugbaits

            PeakTraitor First, it turns out that there wasn’t just one deputy.

            Do you believe criminals want their victims to have guns?

            Well, yes. In fact, that’s how a lot of criminals get their guns. If you own a gun you are many, many times more likely to get killed by a criminal using your own weapon against you than you are likely to kill the criminal.

            The most recent empirical evidence (June 2017, Stanford & Columbia) on right to carry laws is pretty unequivocal. They don’t deter crimes and result in about a 13 percent increase in homicides.

          2. PeakTrader

            2slugbaits, the traitor of American rights, you can’t depend on law enforcement.

            Obviously, you haven’t been trained in self-defense and criminals are too smart for you.

            It’s amazing how you continue to depend on one study by someone against guns when shown there are dozens of other studies that contradict it.

          3. 2slugbaits

            PeakTraitor you haven’t been trained in self-defense and criminals are too smart for you.

            I don’t have a Rambo/Red Dawn fantasy, if that’s what you mean.

            It’s amazing how you continue to depend on one study by someone against guns when shown there are dozens of other studies that contradict it.

            No recent ones that weren’t bought and paid for by the NRA. The most recent empirical literature uses much deeper panel data than previous studies, which tended to be inconclusive. Besides, you can’t do econometrics, so how would you know a good empirical study from a bad one? And it wasn’t “someone” against guns. The most recent study was done by a team across Stanford and Columbia.

          4. PeakTrader

            2slugbaits, the traitor of American rights, the lead author is biased. I’ve done econometric papers. The overwhelming results of the literature are right to carry laws either reduce crime or are inconclusive. To believe otherwise shows an ignorance of econometrics.

  6. 2slugbaits

    A long time ago the NRA used to represent responsible gun owners. Today the NRA is just a lobbyist for gun manufacturers. And over the long run that’s a problem for the NRA. Stock prices for major gun manufacturers have been essentially flat over the last five years. A couple years ago Colt went belly-up and just a few days ago Remington filed for bankruptcy. And there are at least two other gun and accessory manufacturers that have one foot in the grave. Why? One reason is that gun manufacturers have come to rely upon a (literally) dying demographic. Sales to first time young gun owners are weak. About half of all guns are owned by just 3 percent of the adult population. I have a couple of in-laws who are a good example. Between the two of them they own over 160 guns. Years ago they used to hunt. Today their guns are just fetish items. The NRA’s demographic problem is the same as the GOP’s demographic problem; they depend on an old, white and rural demographic. That’s a political loser over the long run. And because the NRA has been so intransigent about any and all laws to restrict gun ownership, I wonder what will happen when there is a wave election and the NRA’s base of support gets bounced. Fighting desperate rearguard actions only works so long. The old Dallas Cowboys defense used to bend but didn’t break. That’s the opposite of the NRA’s strategy. The NRA’s political strategy is to set up a highly brittle defense that doesn’t bend, but will ultimately shatter when it does break. That’s always been a common problem with the forces of political reaction.

    On a cheerier note, today is the first day of pre-season baseball. And all MLB players wore hats honoring the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, including the school’s famous alum, Chicago Cub Anthony Rizzo. Go CUBBIES!

    1. Moses Herzog

      Great comment. Well-stated. I want to believe you are 100% right about NRA and voting demographics. My heart is with your sentiment. But my brain says that the white female voter in rural areas still packs a heavy punch. Ask Hillary Clinton how that white female voter in Yates Center Kansas can be a real b*tch when you prematurely tabulated them in the wrong column.

      On baseball I’m a fair-weather fan myself. I like to watch high base-steals teams. With the Tim Raines or Rickey Henderson type athletes. Otherwise I get bored pretty fast.

      1. 2slugbaits

        Moses Herzog Female rural voters might feel that way, but they too are a dying demographic. I doubt that all of these school shootings will sit well with suburban moms.

        I’m a lifelong Cubs fan. As a kid one of the saddest days of my life was hearing that Cubs 2nd baseman Kenny Hubbs was killed in a plane crash shortly before spring training.

    2. CoRev

      2slugs, you are consistently wrong. NRA programs: If this doesn’t automatically point to your area look it up.
      Hunters for the Hungry is just one of the hunting programs: Note how many and which states provide the most.

      And this is just ludicrous: ” Today their guns are just fetish (collectors’/investment) items. ” (there fixed it for you). Gun values are appreciation.

      You’ve made the political demographics argument in the past. It was untrue then and is still so today. The last wave election was against your policies and party, as was the last national election.

      1. 2slugbaits

        CoRev You couldn’t be more wrong. First, your own link “Hunters for the Hungry” lists the top five states. Did you know that four of those five either outright prohibit rifle hunting or severely restrict it. For example, rifle hunting is banned in the southern part of Pennsylvania. It’s entirely banned in Iowa and Connecticut. And even Virginia bans hunting deer with any caliber smaller than .23. In other words, you cannot hunt deer in Virginia with an AR-15. And way most of the meat from hunting comes from shotgun, muzzleloader or crossbow hunting, not rifle hunting. Real hunters don’t need semi-automatic weapons either. My grandfather used to hunt deer, pheasant and waterfowl. Not for sport, but to feed his family during the depression. Somehow he managed to do that with a couple of manually loaded shotguns. Are you that bad of a shot that you need to unload umpteen rounds in order to hit your target?

        Gun values are appreciation.

        Tulips appreciated in value too. If you’re stupid enough to buy a gun as an investment item, then you should be supporting the restriction of gun sales. This is an econ blog, so hopefully you understand that scarcity is what drives up speculative investments like tulips and guns. Scarcity and always finding a greater fool.

        As to the political demographics, you’re just flat out wrong. Each Presidential election cycle the country is 2 percent less white. It is becoming less rural. And old people die. And young people lean Democratic. Those are just demographic facts. Virginia used to be red state. No more. California used to be a red state. Colorado used to be a reliably red state. No more. Georgia and Arizona are about one election cycle away from going blue. Texas is three cycles away from going purple. The GOP is clinging to power through gerrymandering and counting on low Democratic voter turnout in non-Presidential years. That’s why they’ve been able to hold onto state legislatures. And did you know that in almost every congressional election the Democrats get more votes than Republicans? It’s only because Republicans can’t compete on an even playing field that they hold Congress. But those rearguard actions only delay the day of reckoning. If the NRA had been more reasonable about gun restrictions (e.g., limiting magazine size, closing gun show loopholes, raising the minimum age, various safety features opposed by the NRA,, etc.), then future voters might be less vigilant about restricting gun rights. But because the NRA has been intransigent about even the most reasonable gun restrictions, the most likely result will be a very broad sweeping away of gun rights once the NRA’s stranglehold on politicians finally breaks.

        1. CoRev

          2slugs, too many wrong with your statement and understanding of guns to parse. How many times do you need to be told the AR-15 is just a platform. I even gave you a hand loaders guide to loading ammunition.

          Your grandfathers history is interesting only because they were probably too poor to afford one of the new semi-auto shotguns appearing on the market, and you seem proud of that. I wonder if given the chance to trade one of his shotguns for the newer semi-auto, if he would have. I know my grandfather would have and my father did. His browning semi-auto is still in the family.

          Real elections disprove your beliefs in demographics. More elections are won on policies then demographics: “The last wave election was against your policies and party, as was the last national election.”

          You’s\ve proven you know little about guns, admitted it, and you have been wrong about demographics. Car to guess where that puts your knowledge about investing in guns?

  7. Moses Herzog

    Some of you watching the video I linked to below might wonder “Why is Mueller getting guilty pleas from all these guys??”. It might puzzle you, “Why get these guys to plead guilty when he could charge them for bigger and more serious crimes??” (or at least bigger punishments). Well it’s going to be very interesting. And no, it is not because Rick Gates and Paul Manafort are finally going to tell us if Omarosa really does have “the best DSL in all of Washington DC”.

    Mueller is getting guilty pleas out of these guys because either they directly know of crimes the VSG committed or they have something on people who know about as-yet-to-be-uncovered crimes committed by the VSG. You might also spot that around 6minute 14second mark of the video they mention Jared Kushner’s finances. It’s well known that Kushner has a monstrous amount of debt tied into his real estate holdings. People who have outstanding loans, huge debt, or large debt that has to be paid in a very abbreviated time span often are great targets for blackmail and/or bribery. Nations active in state espionage (i.e. Russia) will often target useful dopes that have unpayable debts they are desperate to get resolved.

  8. Rick Stryker


    Your talk of “covariates” is supposed to support the progressive excuse for gun violence: supposedly the gun lobby and its corrupt representatives are responsible for a profileration of guns, especially “dangerous weapons of war,” which produce all this gun violence. But we don’t need covariates to understand what is going on. The facts of this case show once again how wrong the progressive view is. In fact, it’s progressive policies that are increasing the violence. Let’s break down their false claims one by one:

    Progressive fallacy 1: We need to rely on properly trained authorities to investigate these potential crimes. The police should protect people from murderers. It’s much too dangerous to allow people to protect themselves with guns.

    Reality: Cruz, the crazed shooter, was reported over and over to government authorities, including the FBI, the Sheriff’s office, and the local police department. A month before he attacked the school, he was reported as a potential school shooter. The government authorities did nothing.

    Progressive fallacy 2: If a criminal threatens your life, the only safe thing to do is to call 911 and wait for the properly trained police officers to save you. It’s too dangerous to allow members of the public to carry guns to protect their own lives.

    Reality: The armed deputy assigned to the school waited outside while he listened to the gunshots, each shot representing the potential end of a young life. Three other sheriff’s deputies arrived but also did not confront the shooter. Meanwhile, inside the school, a teacher who had a concealed carry permit but who was not allowed to possess his gun in the school, died unarmed trying to protecting the students. The old saying that when seconds count the police are only minutes away is never more true than in a school shooting. These shootings typically last 4 to 6 minutes, not enough time for a realistic police response. If shooters are to be stopped, they must be stopped immediately by the people at the shooting scene.

    Progressive fallacy 3: Ar-15s are “weapons of war” that would not be in the hands of the public but for the corrupt gun lobby. These weapons have no purpose other than to kill lots of people, and their use dramatically increases the fatality count, which would be much lower in mass shootings if they were banned.

    Reality: AR-15s are semi-automatic sporting rifles that have cosmetic differences that in no way affect their lethality. They are equivalent to other semi-auto rifles but with cosmetic features that make them “assault weapons” to progressives. All kinds of weapons–semi-auto rifles, pistols, and shotguns–are used in mass shootings, with similar effects.

    Progressive fallacy 4: Conservative policies, especially support for 2d amendment constitutional rights, are responsible for school shootings

    Reality: Progressive’s policies, especially their public school policies and their hostility to the rights of people to protect themselves, are the true contributors to the violence. Broward county is 2/3 Democratic and its public school system reflects progressive policies. Its sheriff is an elected Democrat. In the usual progressive symbiotic corruption, the school’s superintendent and the sheriff agreed to reduce the high arrest rate of students in the county just by agreeing not to do it. The school would handle disciplinary problems directly. That started about 5 years ago and made everyone look good. The policy is working! The school shooter during that time was a terrible problem and everyone knew it. He was violent and disruptive. He was bounced from school to school but never arrested. He was even reported to the School Resource Officer, the same deputy that waited outside during the shooting, who did nothing to follow up on the report. But that was the policy of the progressives not to follow up. Moreover, the progressives running that school district will not allow teachers to protect themselves and their students. Instead, they rely on a sheriff’s deputy who refused to act when they needed him, and who will probably, as is typical given the corrupt bargain between progressives and public unions, be allowed to retire with benefits despite extreme dereliction of duty. Contrast these policies with states like Texas, which allows properly trained teachers to carry guns in schools.

    This terrible case illustrates yet again the importance of not relying on the government or the police to protect your life. A free people has the right to protect themselves–that’s one of the many freedoms that makes America different and better than the rest of the world. I am reminded by this incident that I’ve allowed my NRA membership to elapse, an oversight that I’ll correct.

    1. Dave

      The shooter was not a student of the school at the time of the shooting. Your entire argument is a bunch of non-sequitur nonsense.

      1. PeakTrader

        Dave, you’re the one, who makes no sense. Wasn’t it illegal for the shooter to bring a gun to school? Why wasn’t he stopped? Why did law enforcement allow a well known nut case to shoot up the school? You want to pass more laws. Yet, you can’t even enforce existing laws! You want to take away the right of law-abiding citizens to protect themselves, their children, and their property.

  9. Trump will never be President

    Not Trampis
    February 23, 2018 at 3:03 pm
    why do you guys allow anyone to have assault weapons? That is insane.

    just copy and paste what we do down under

    Because we’d rather not be genocided or politicided or invaded and conquered. Without our armed citizens, our government would collapse. Why don’t you cut us a check for defending your borders?

  10. Trump will never be President

    You forgot a few covariates: diagnosed and undiagnosed mental illnesses. Raised by married biological parents. Prescription medications taken.

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