Are mass shooters environmentalists? As a Canadian you might be excused for believing that mass shootings are predominantly an American problem or that mass shooters are “right wingers” or “alt-right.” The Canadian news media uncritically publish horror tales about gun crime from the United States.
The facts show that mass shooters are not “right wingers” or “alt-right,” nor are mass shootings a predominantly American problem. Both claims are false, but the media constantly repeat them so they’re widely believed. Anti-gun activists find it easy to fake “scientific studies” that invent “findings” to support whatever claims they want.
The truth can only be discovered by digging into events more deeply. Never trust claims that are easily found on media – whether CBC or Google. It’s no surprise that the CBC spews anti-gun claims, but did you know that Google’s “search algorithms” are designed to show antigun reports? Luckily there are a few serious sites where truth can be found – backed by solid research: John Lott’s Crime Prevention Research Center (CPRC), and Canadian sites, such as, TheGunBlog, CCFR, CSSA, and my justiceforgunowners.ca
Anti-gun propagandists take advantage of journalistic gullibility to peddle outrageous claims about guns or gun owners that are then endlessly repeated by sympathetic news organizations. A current trick for some organizations is to create a “data base” using questionable methods that allows them to make bogus claims. The result is propaganda dressed up as scientific research.
Mass killers are driven by environmentalism
One such propaganda organization is the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) that created a data base of “extremist-related mass killings”. In 2022 the ADL identified 25 victims killed by mass killers and claimed that almost all of the killers were “right wing extremists.” John Lott dug into the killers’ manifestos to find out more. Some of the killers were “extremists” but none were “right wing.” Lott found that two of these murderers were self-described “white supremacists,” with one being an “eco-fascist” and the other is “nonbinary” who used gay and racist slurs. Such beliefs are hardly “right wing.” These two murderers accounted for 15 of these 25 victim (10 victims in Buffalo) and Anderson Lee Aldrich in Colorado accounted for five more murders. The killers of the other 10 victims were misclassified by ADL: they weren’t extremists of any kind. Those murders were linked to criminal activity or domestic violence. ADL just made it up.
The shooter in Buffalo NY (Payton Gendron) is labelled a “neo-Nazi” or a “right winger.” In his manifesto, Gendron declared he was an “eco-fascist” and a member of the “authoritarian left.” Gendron was a “white supremacist” who targeted a Black neighborhood to shoot as many people as he could. But not all racists are right wing. He thought there were too many people, particularly Black people, who were destroying the planet. Environmentalism is a leftist ideology, not right wing. Remember, Nazi is short for “national socialist”. Socialists are left-wing.
Brenton Harrison Tarrant, the Christchurch mosque murderer, is also called a “white supremacist” and “alt-right.” He was a racist but not “alt-right.” This claim is false. His manifesto shows he had been radicalized by environmentalism and described himself as an “eco-fascist.” The Christchurch killer said he was a socialist, an environmentalist, and that he hated capitalists. Those beliefs are not “right wing.” Ecologically motivated killers aren’t right wing.
Are mass shootings an American problem?
Supposedly, mass public shootings are a uniquely American problem. Back in 2015, then-President Obama announced in Paris that, “This [mass shootings] just doesn’t happen in other countries.” Obama should have been embarrassed when multiple mass public shootings erupted in Paris that year.
One widely publicized paper claimed that the US had almost one-third (31%) of the mass public shootings in the world. Adam Lankford claimed that he had complete data on mass public shootings in 171 countries in the 47 years from 1966 to 2012. He reported that from 1966 to 2012, there were 90 public mass shooters in the United States and 202 in the rest of world. His claims were picked up and repeated by media around the world including Canadian media. No one checked. Until John Lott did.
Lankford’s findings were impossible to replicate because he had not identified the cases nor even gave a complete description of the rules for selecting cases. This information is crucial because myopic American media often ignore mass shootings in remote parts of the world. Plus, it is extremely difficult to search for news as far back to 1966. Lack of a thorough media search could easily lead to under-counting foreign mass shootings, which would falsely imply that the U.S. has a large share.
John Lott conducted a more a systematic analysis of world-wide mass public shootings and found that Lankford’s data represent a gross undercount of foreign attacks. Lott found at least fifteen times more mass public shooters than Lankford in less than a third the number of years. Lott’s list contains 1,448 attacks and at least 3,081 shooters outside the United States over just the last 15 years of the period that Lankford examined.
On the other hand
In Canada, mass killers are more likely to be seen as exemplars of patriarchy rather than as “extremists.” The Mass Casualty Commission did not call the killer in Nova Scotia “right wing” but claimed he was an example of “the epidemic level of gender-based, intimate partner, and family violence in Nova Scotia and throughout Canada today.” (MCC, Volume 3, p268)