Mass Shootings and Religion: A Hard Look at the Numbers
Gun control debates have lost some of their edge, but they aren’t dead. Rather than entertain the usual mumbo jumbo, we thought today would be better spent focusing on a different outlook.
Does religion have any bearing on mass shootings?
We analyzed the numbers, and it looks like there is strong evidence to suggest religion is a major player.
Let’s start by defining our criteria. We’re looking at data since 1998 to keep things modern. This will include all of the modern school shootings and a number of other significant events. We’re also only looking at mass public shootings, defined as a shooting that killed four or more people and happened in a public location. We’re also deliberately ignoring gang violence for these stats.
We should also talk about how to identify the religious affiliation of the shooters. Simply put, journalists investigated the religion of each shooter. Many could be readily identified, but if a shooter had no clear indications of following any religion, we are classifying them as unreligious or unaffiliated with any religion. You can note that this is different from active atheism.
With all of that set, we can see that there have been 66 shootings since 1998. A total of 69 shooters were involved. Among all of them, only three can be described as active Christians. The vast majority had no identifiable religion. We can note that none were identified as Hindu, Jewish or belonging to a number of other popular religions around the globe.
That said, six were devout Muslim, and one identified as Buddhist. Altogether, you can see that religion of any kind is a small contributor to the motivations of mass shooters. But, this is specifically about religion, so we’ll look at how these numbers compare in more detail.
The left loves these statistics, so we’ll play along. If they can use these methods to explain why a black man is more likely to be shot by the police, then why can’t we use them to see which religions are most violent?
We’ll start by looking at those crusading Christians. Depending on who you ask, anywhere from 70 to 83 percent of Americans identify as Christian. We’ll use the low end to try to make Christianity look as bad as possible. Accounting for 70 percent of the population, Christians committed only 4.3 percent of mass shootings. This will be our benchmark.
Muslims paint a different picture. They account for roughly one percent of the population. Their representation in mass shootings is still small, at 8.7 percent, but when you talk about proportional representation, this suggests that a Muslim in America is 140 times more likely to be a mass shooter than any given Christian in the country. Not a good look.
The Buddhist representation is obviously too small for good statistics, but we’ll include it for fun. Buddhists represent about 0.7 percent of the population and committed 1 mass shooting. Put it together, and they are 35 times as likely to commit a mass shooting as Christians.
Of course, the biggest group merits the most attention: the non-religious. This group makes up 22.8 percent of our population and committed 83 percent of the crimes. That’s more than a little significant. It shows that someone with no religion in this country is 60 times more likely to be a mass shooter than a corresponding Christian.
Here are the proportional takeaways. Jewish Americans are the most peaceful since they account for 0 mass shootings and still represent a significant population sample. Buddhists are too rare to count fairly (as are a number of other religions). Christian influence clearly dramatically reduces the chance of someone become a mass shooter, and Muslim influence skyrockets that risk.
An Honest Discussion
Population proportion isn’t a very good metric to use for things like this. Mostly, they’re a method to twist the truth to say whatever you want. It’s the only way you can try to claim that a black man is more likely to be shot by the police than his white counterpart. That’s statistically untrue, but with proportional comparisons, you can make it look true.
The reality is that we only have enough data to compare two groups: Christians and non-Christians. Based on the samples, it is clear that Christianity does decrease the likelihood that someone will commit a mass shooting. In fact, the data suggests its the very best resource we have to mitigate this problem.
Banning guns hasn’t helped (97 percent of these shootings were in gun-free zones). In fact, legislation in general has had no measurable impact. If you want to stop school shootings, and mass shootings in general, the answer is obvious. Bring God back. The numbers don’t lie.
~ National Gun Network