If you read the headlines, you’d be scared into thinking the next deadly bullet is just around the corner. And fortunately you’d probably be wrong.

However, a new FBI study has been used to fan those flames. Just look at some headlines: KPHO Phoenix, “FBI: Mass shooting on the rise: how to protect yourselves”; New York Times, “FBI Confirms Sharp Rise in Mass Shootings Since 2000”; Los Angeles Times, “Mass shootings in US have tripled in recent years, FBI says”; and BBC News, “FBI Study: Deaths in mass shooting increasing.”

These headlines are exaggerating and in some cases missing the point that this report is making. Indeed, mass shootings are happening more often, resulting in more deaths and usually ending before police can arrive on the scene to do anything. However, it’s not as common as you might be scared into thinking.

The FBI analyzed 160 shooting events scenarios from 2000-2013, where an individual was actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated area but excluding gang-related violence, drug-related killings or individuals whose primary purpose was to commit suicide publicly. Overall, there were on average 11.4 active shooting incidents annually with a total of 486 people killed and 557 wounded. From 2000 to 2006, there was an average of 6.4 active-shooter incidents a year and that rose to 16.4 a year between 2006 and 2013.

And when you compare the incidents of mass shootings to other instances when people died, the numbers can be put into perspective. For example, almost twice as many people died on bicycles in 2010 as died during the FBI’s 14-year study of mass shootings. Is the message to stay off bikes?

Breitbart analyses some of the data:

Death statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) coupled with crime statistics from the FBI show that bicycle and falling deaths far esceed deaths from "mass shootings."

For example, on September 24 the FBI released a study showing there were 64 incidents of "mass killings" (mass shootings) for the years 2000 through 2013. The gunmen in these incidents took the lives of 418 people.

The 418 people who were killed over a 14-year period works out to an average of 29.8 persons a year.

… the CDC bicycle-related injury report for 2010 shows that almost twice as many people died on bicycles in that one year than were killed in "mass shootings" during the 14 years studied by the FBI. Thus, while there were 418 deaths in "mass shootings" from 2000 to 2013, there were 800 deaths by bicycle in 2010 alone.

And CDC death statistics for 2010 show there were 26,009 deaths from "falling" for that year alone. That's right–26,009 deaths in one year from falls from ladders, counters, roofs, mountains, etc.

One lost life is nothing to gloss over whether that’s through a shooting spree or someone falling off a ladder. However, comparing these statistics exposes the zealousness of media outlets to focus on reporting “mass shootings” without adding any analysis or perspective.

Data are relative and to comprehend their full weight and power we have to place them in context and weigh them against other incidences. Otherwise, we’ll spread mass hysteria and Americans will never find themselves at peace.  

Furthermore, data of this sort drives knee-jerk reactions from schools and authorities to expand the authority and reach of government in an effort to “keep us safe” -at cost of the erosion of our rights and freedoms. It feeds a culture of alarmism in this country.

So when we see salacious or terror-inducing headlines, we ought to ask some questions: what aren’t they telling me? What is this compared to? That gives us a better grasp of the situation and helps us from living our lives in constant fear.