If you believe right-wing activists you’d think there is an epidemic of transgender shooters.
After it was reported the shooter in the recent Nashville school shooting was trans – conservative pundits went nuts.
Here are a few of the claims they made:
“There is a clear epidemic of trans or non-binary mass shooters.”
— Donald Trump Jr., in a video post, March 28
“One thing is VERY clear: the modern trans movement is radicalizing activists into terrorists.”
— Benny Johnson, production chief at Turning Point USA, in a tweet, March 27
About 80% of the time these schools shooters are transgender and the media tries to cover it up.
– From the March 28, 2023, edition of Infowars' The Alex Jones Show
Multiple news outlets covered this disinformation campaign including the Washington Post: “The data is clear: There is no ‘clear epidemic’ of transgender mass shooters,” and Associated Press: “FACT FOCUS: No ‘incredible rise’ in transgender shooters.”
In Johnson’s tweet he referred to four shootings:
“The Colorado Springs shooter identified as non-binary. The Denver shooter identified as trans. The Aberdeen shooter identified as trans. The Nashville shooter identified as trans.”
James Alan Fox, a statistician and professor of criminology, law and public policy at Northeastern University told the Associated Press: “There are a lot of mass shootings, hundreds of mass shootings, and to cherry-pick four of them and say here’s a trend, that’s wrong. You can’t make a conclusion that’s significant. It is not significant in any statistical sense.”
The earliest of those four shootings, Denver, happened in 2018.
In a response to Johnson’s tweet Elon Musk, the owner of Twitter, tweeted “!”, which has been viewed 7.7 million times.
Some of these shooters may be trans or gender non-conforming but it’s not definitive. For instance, as the Washington Post reports the Colorado shooter claims to be non-binary, but a police detective “testified earlier this year that the shooter ran a neo-Nazi website, used gay and racial slurs while gaming online and posted an image of a rifle scope trained on a gay pride parade.”
Of course, it’s also true this shooter could very well be non-binary and a neo-Nazi.
But even if all four are trans and/or non-conforming there still would be no epidemic of trans people committing mass shootings.
As the Post points out there is no universal definition of mass killing/shootings. They define a mass killing as an event in which four or more people, not including the shooter, have been killed by gunfire.
Under that criteria only one of the four shootings would be classified as a mass killing.
According to the Post: “The Violence Project counts 188 mass public killings since 1966. So with 0.6% of the population, transgender people would expect to be involved in about one shooting.”
As for mass shootings, the Gun Violence Project has counted 2,697 since 2018. They define a mass shooting as “4 or more shot or killed in a shooting incident, not including the shooter, in any circumstance."
Using that criteria, the Aberdeen and Denver cases cited by Johnson, would also be counted.
“With 0.6% of the population, one would expect at least 16 mass shootings to be conducted by people identifying as transgender,” the Post writes. “Instead there are just three possible cases cited by conservatives.”
“This is capitalizing on tragedy for political purposes,” Fox said. “One should not conclude that being trans or non-binary, they should be more likely to commit a crime like this.”