Guns don’t kill people. Trans people do. That’s the absurd claim that a wave of conservatives are making following conflicting reports about the gender identity of the Nashville shooter who killed three nine-year-olds and three adults at a private Christian school on Monday.
- “How much hormones like testosterone and medications for mental illness was the transgender Nashville school shooter taking?” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) tweeted Monday evening. “Everyone can stop blaming guns now.”
- “We seem to be watching the rise of trans terrorism,” Fox News’ Tucker Carlson said in a nine-minute screed Tuesday night. “Yesterday’s massacre did not happen because of lax gun laws. Yesterday’s massacre happened because of a deranged and demonic ideology that is infecting this country with the encouragement of people like Joe Biden.”
- “One thing is VERY clear: the modern trans movement is radicalizing activists into terrorists,” conservative podcaster Benny Johnson wrote in a Monday tweet, listing off four shootings between September 2018 and Monday that were caused by people who, at some point, seemed to identify as transgender or nonbinary. (One of the four shooters Johnson listed, which took place at a Colorado Springs LGBTQ night club in 2022, has been alleged by former peers to be lying about being nonbinary, perhaps to get a lighter sentence.)
- “If early reports are accurate that a trans shooter targeted a Christian school, there needs to be a lot of soul searching on the extreme left. Giving in to these ideas isn’t compassion, it’s dangerous,” tweeted Sen. JD Vance (R-Ohio).
- “Given the incredible rise of trans/non-binary mass shooters in the last few years…maybe, rather than talking about guns we should be talking about lunatics pushing their gender affirming bullshit on our kids?” tweeted Donald Trump Jr.
The pundits and lawmakers are right that mass shootings are certainly “dangerous” and always “deranged.” But if there’s an epidemic of carnage in this country, the source of it is not trans people but guns.
Mother Jones created the first-of-its-kind open-source database for tracking mass shootings in the US back in 2012. And we can tell you for certain that there's only one thing present at every single mass shooting: A gun. pic.twitter.com/f6o7Txf91w
— Mother Jones (@MotherJones) March 31, 2023
Mother Jones tracks mass shootings in which four or more victims are killed. This open-source database (which has a stricter definition of what qualifies as a mass shooting than most other databases) lists 141 mass shootings since 1982. In his viral tweet listing trans and nonbinary shooters, Johnson included one shooting in Denver that Mother Jones does not count because one person died. If we count the other three, including the one whose nonbinary gender identity has been challenged and the Nashville shooter whose gender identity police are still trying to ascertain, that’s 3 alleged trans and nonbinary mass shooters out of 141 in four decades.
Meanwhile, 134 of the 141 mass shootings tracked by Mother Jones since 1982 were carried out by men with no known history of identifying as trans or nonbinary. Two were carried out by women believed to be cisgender. Two more were carried out by a man and a woman, also believed to be cisgender, working together.
And while we’re talking about numbers, here are some other relevant figures:
- The number of trans people who were killed in the US in 2022: At least 38.
- The likelihood of experiencing physical violence as a trans person: 86.2 per 1,000 people, versus 21.7 per 1,000 for cisgender people.
- The percentage of mass shootings, as defined by Mother Jones’ database, carried out by men believed to be cisgender: 95 percent.
From a statistical basis, transgender individuals are much more prone to being the victims of violence than they are likely to commit it. That doesn’t mean transgender people are never the perpetrators of violence. But it does mean trans people are far from the universal common denominator in mass shooting sprees; guns, used in 100 percent of mass shootings, are.