Adam Lankford’s Study of Mass Shootings Called into Question

Adam Lankford Mass Shooting Data Flaws Highlighted
Adam Lankford Mass Shooting Data Flaws Highlighted

Alabama-(Ammoland.com)-The old saying goes, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.”

When I research a topic for an article, I always keep a running list of my sources. Not only that but I also fact check my sources. That way if someone calls into question something I have written I can provide material evidence to where I have derived my data.

The ability to cite your sources become even more critical when you become a college professor. In an academic setting, any paper that is not peer-reviewed raises certain red flags. Non-verifiable information might be fine for a blog post, but not for a published academic article.

One of the most cited sources for information on mass shootings is Dr. Adam Lankford. Dr. Lankford is a criminology professor at the University of Alabama. Former President Obama and other left-leaning politicians have cited his research into gun violence to further their anti-gun agenda.

Being a published criminology professor Dr. Lankford sources on mass shootings must be impeccable, so AmmoLand decided to look into his claims made throughout his mass shooting study. It is customary for researches to list their sources, but it seems like Lankford has omitted any references for his data set in his published study.

AmmoLand reached out to Lankford through multiple mediums to see if he would provide us with a list of resources that he used in his research, but so far Lankford has refused to respond to our request. In fact, in the three years since his widely cited study became a Democratic talking point, he has declined all request for copies of his data set.

Real Clear Politics tried unsuccessfully to get the raw data that Lankford used in his study. Not only did Lankford refuse to give the political neutral website the data, but he also declined to describe the methods he used to gather the information. He also refused to give a reason for not divulging the data. It is customary for all academic studies to release their data so the results can be confirmed by third parties.

Earlier this month the left-leaning Washington Post also reached out to Lankford to discuss his findings. Lankford once again refused to discuss his results with the Post. The Washington Post was able to determine that Lankford discounted events like the terrorist attack in Mumbai as a mass shooting. Since Lankford has kept his method secret, we cannot learn what he considers a mass shooting. Lankford omitting of the Mumbai attacks in his study does not seem to be an oversight as reported by the Post.

Other News agency has reached out to Lankford for clarification on his research. The Washington Times and Fox News both had their request for the data shot down by Lankford. By not releasing the dataset or even what he considers a mass shooting Lankford makes the task of verifying his claims by using his methods impossible.

What is possible is to look at his claims and compare it to other research done on mass shootings in the US and globally. We still will not be able to determine his criteria for mass shootings used in his study, but we can make an educated guess to the validity of his claims.

Lankford claims that from 1966 to 2012 the US only made up 4.5% of the world’s population. That is where the verifiable data stops. He then goes on to claim that within the same period that the US accounted for 31% of all the mass public shooters.

Lankford goes as far as to claim that there have only been 202 mass public shooters during that time span outside the US. This claim is dubious at best and an outright lie at worst. Luckily for the AmmoLand reader, a lot of sourced research has been done into the topic of mass shootings in the US compared to mass shootings globally.

One of the leading organizations that have published studies into mass shooting is the Crime Prevention Research Center. The CPRC is led by famed American economist John Lott Jr. The CPRC cites all their data set information and sources.

Looking at their data, we can see a stark contrast between the research of Lankford and the research of the CPRC. Lankford research refers to shooters instead of shootings. If we consider that this isn't a typo within the last 15 years, there has been at least 3,081 shooters outside the US and 45 in the US. These estimates of shooters outside the US are towards the most conservative end of the spectrum. In reality, the numbers of worldwide mass shooters are most likely higher. All these examples given by the CPRC are verifiable and they cite their sources on their website.

If we assume that Lankford made a mistake when using the word shooter and was referring to shootings the numbers still are not close. There has been 1,448 mass public shooting outside the US and 43 within the US in the last 15 years.

It is worth noting that Lankford study goes back 47 years while the CPRC only goes back 15 years. If the CPRC expanded their research to 47 years, we can assume the numbers of mass shootings outside the US would go up. Tracing mass shootings back 47 years outside the US would be a very daunting task due to lack of news coverage of such attacks in the pre-24/7 news age.

AmmoLand ran a query of mass shootings outside the US using Google News to verify Lankford’s claims. While this method is unscientific, it did show the numbers of mass shootings that Lankford reported is massively on the low end of the spectrum. We could not figure out how Lankford arrived at his findings. After changing one variable at a time over the course of four hours we were still stumped and was forced to give up.

Once again, Lankford leaves us with the question, how did he get his data?

If Lankford wouldn't answer AmmoLand's questions, we thought we might be able to get answers from Dr. Lesley Reid. Dr. Reid chairs the Criminal Justice Department at the University of Alabama. UA is a public university, and if Lankford used public money for his research, then that research should be open to review even if Lankford did not submit his study to be peer-reviewed.

Unfortunately, Dr. Reid did not return AmmoLand's request. We asked Dr. Reid for the data set, all sources, and if it was common for UA professors to submit non-peer reviewed papers without citing sources.

We also asked Dr. Reid if there were any policies in place preventing the releasing of the data set. AmmoLand also inquired if Lankford used any public funds to pay for the study. Right now, we do not know where Lankford raised the money for the research.

With all the holes in Lankford's study, it is amazing that so many media sources cite his research. It could also be that his analysis falls in line with their predetermined outcome. To be sure, anti-gun politicians like Obama and anti-gun groups like Mom’s Demand Action use his numbers to push their anti-gun agenda.

Is Lankford making up his data to advance an anti-gun agenda, or is he pushing a false narrative to sell books? Readers should consider his data suspect until Lankford can explain the discrepancy between his findings and verifiable raw data that readers can source themselves with a simple Google source.

Until the data set is released, we will not be able to tell Lankford's motives in publishing a non-peer reviewed study and keeping his sources a secret.

The Crime Prevention Research Center makes all their data available on their website located at https://crimeresearch.org/

AmmoLand encourages all it's readers to download and read John Lott's paper on Lankford's research.  Lott's paper is eyeopening and gives a deeper context to the debate.  Readers can find the paper at https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3238736  


About John CrumpJohn Crump

John is a NRA instructor and a constitutional activist. He is the former CEO of Veritas Firearms, LLC and is the co-host of The Patriot News Podcast which can be found at www.blogtalkradio.com/patriotnews. John has written extensively on the patriot movement including 3%'ers, Oath Keepers, and Militias. In addition to the Patriot movement, John has written about firearms, interviewed people of all walks of life, and on the Constitution. John lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and sons and is currently working on a book on leftist deplatforming methods and can be followed on Twitter at @crumpyss, on Facebook at realjohncrump, or at www.crumpy.com.

  • 13 thoughts on “Adam Lankford’s Study of Mass Shootings Called into Question

    1. My question is “Does the prof. think that any of his study is relevant when it comes to the undeniable, Constitutionally enshrined, God given Civil Right to keep and carry firearms? Please note also: There is no such thing as gun violence. Guns are inanimate. Violence requires one that can act.

        1. Sure will there Ross. Yes, that is an impressive number of references! How about you point to the one that addresses the mass shooter numbers in other countries besides the US since THAT is what is being called into question? Yeah, you won’t find it there. Good try, but some of us actually READ, unlike yourself.

          1. Thanks for your clarification. I was reacting to a comment I received from a “lefty” that undeniably also did not read, however I did not even see the list of references. when you cited in your overview, “no references”, I apparently took that a bit too literally. Sorry to have shocked your readers.
            I did not intend to imply I do not wholeheartedly support the 2A. I am an NRA, and CRPA member, and contribute regularly to these defences.
            Thanks again for clarifying.

    2. It is obvious this prof. is a product of the progressives. He dreamed up statements and they are true and factual (according to the liberal way) even if they do not contain any actual statistics. Without a doubt, correct unless proven to be false. This is the new way no matter how wrong it is.

    3. Hmm, seems like the data, and the ‘conclusions’ reached, are about as accurate and verifiable as those used(?) by belleisle…………….;-)

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