It’s disheartening to see the FBI used to promote a political agenda, but that’s what we got with the bureau’s release last month of a study claim to show a sharp rise in mass shootings, a la Newtown, Conn.

The FBI counted 160 “mass” or “active” shootings in public places from 2000 to 2013. Worse, it said these attacks rose from just one in 2000 to 17 in 2013. Media outlets worldwide gave the “news” extensive coverage.

Too bad the study is remarkably shoddy — slicing the evidence to distort the results. In fact, mass public shootings have only risen ever so slightly over the last four decades.

While the FBI study discusses “mass shootings or killings,” its graphs were filled with cases that had nothing to do with mass killings. Of the 160 cases it counted, 32 involved a gun being fired without anyone being killed. Another 35 cases involved a single murder.

It’s hard to see how the FBI can count these incidents, which make up 42 percent of its 160 cases, as “mass killings.” They plainly don’t fit the FBI’s old definition, which required four or more murders, nor even its new one of at least three murders.

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