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How Often Do Mass Shootings Occur In The US?
On Average, Every Day





More than one a day.

That is how often, on average, shootings that left four or more people wounded or dead occurred in the United States this year, according to compilations of episodes derived from news reports.

Including the worst mass shooting of the year, which unfolded horrifically on Wednesday (December 2, 2015) in San Bernardino, California, USA, a total of 462 people have died and 1,314 have been wounded in such attacks this year, many of which occurred on streets or in public settings, the databases indicate.

It is impossible to know whether the number of such shootings has risen in recent years because the databases go back only a couple of years. More data is available for mass shootings calculated by a different standard, one used by congressional researchers and other experts who study mass killings: four or more dead. But experts fiercely debate whether mass shootings by that more deadly standard have remained level or ticked up slightly in recent years.

Nonetheless, the stream of shootings this year -- including an attack last week on a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado that left three dead and a shooting in October at a community college in Oregon that left 10 dead, including the gunman -- has intensified the debate over the accessibility of powerful firearms.

Two databases that track mass shootings that leave four or more dead or wounded -- and -- depend on news accounts and are not official. Nonetheless, they give an indication of the widespread nature of such episodes. Since January, there have been at least 354 such cases in about 220 cities in 47 states, according to

In November, six people were killed, five of them shot to death at a campsite in East Texas; 17 were wounded in a shootout as a crowd watched the filming of a music video in New Orleans; and four died, including twin 5-month-olds, in an episode of domestic violence in Jacksonville, Florida.

So far this week, five people were wounded Sunday morning in a shooting in Kankakee, Illinois, and a shooting Wednesday, before the San Bernardino attack, left one woman dead and three men wounded in Savannah, Georgia.

There are more days with mass shootings than not.

In 209 out of 336 days this year, at least one shooting left four or more people injured or dead in the United States, according to compilations of incidents derived from news reports.

Ted Alcorn, the research director for ‘Everytown for Gun Safety‘, a non-profit organization that advocates gun control, said the shootings with multiple victims were a tiny subset of everyday gun violence in America.

“You have 14 people dead in California, and that’s a horrible tragedy,” he said. “But likely 88 other people died today from gun violence in the United States.”

In studying shootings that left four or more dead from 2009 to mid-2015, his organization found certain patterns. In only 11 percent of cases did medical, school or legal authorities note signs of mental illness in the gunmen before the attack, the organization said. Domestic violence figured strongly: In 57 percent of the cases, the victims included a current or former intimate partner or family member of the attacker. Half of all victims were women.

More than two-thirds of the shootings took place in private residences; about 28 percent occurred in public spaces, the study found.

More than 60 percent of the attackers were not prohibited from possessing guns because of prior felonies or other reasons. But the organization still found there was less likelihood of mass killings in states that require background checks for all handgun sales than in states that do not -- and even less chance of shootings by people who were prohibited by law from possessing firearms.

In a recent report, the Congressional Research Service found a slight uptick in recent years in shootings in which four or more victims died. The report found an average of 22.4 mass shootings a year from 2009 to 2013, compared with 20.2 shootings a year during the previous five years.

But James Alan Fox, a criminologist at Northeastern University, said his research showed the number of such shootings has roughly held steady in recent decades.

He said that if analysts added a single year, 2014, and looked at four-year intervals instead of five-year intervals, the average number of annual mass shootings actually declined slightly from 2011 to 2014, compared with the previous four-year period.

“It’s a matter of how you slice it,” said Professor Fox, who nonetheless praised the research service’s report.

While the numbers shift from year to year, there has been no discernible trend in the numbers or in the characteristics of the assailants, said Professor Fox, who is also a co-author of “Extreme Killing: Understanding Serial and Mass Murder.”

“The only increase has been in fear, and in the perception of an increase,” he said. “A lot of that has been because of the nature of media coverage. In the ’70s and ’80s, we didn’t hear about it on the Internet -- because there was no Internet -- and we didn’t have cable news channels that would devote 24 hours of coverage.”

The shooting in San Bernardino was unlike nearly every other shooting of its type in the United States in the past decade and a half because it involved more than one assailant, and the suspects managed to flee the scene.

Just two of 160 active shooter episodes from 2000 to 2013 had more than one gunman, according to a 2014 report released by the F.B.I. Only 25 of the gunmen got away without being arrested or killed, or committing suicide.

The study analyzed episodes involving active gunmen, where a shooting was in progress when law enforcement officers responded.

“Humans in general are adverse to killing other individuals, so it’s hard to sell someone else on helping you with that,” said J. Pete Blair, a criminal justice professor at Texas State University who worked on the F.B.I. study. “Oftentimes the person is socially isolated and not socially successful, and that creates a situation in which you are on your own and it’s hard to get others to buy into your vision or anger.”

Dr. Jeffrey Simon, a visiting lecturer in political science at U.C.L.A. who studies mass shootings with many victims, said that the killers shared no consistent ideological motivation.

“They really cut across the spectrum of political and religious ideologies and other grievances,” Dr. Simon said. “You have personal motivations, political motivations, religious motivations, criminal motivations, or just no motivations at all, as the shooter acts out their fantasies. And the line between them sometimes is very blurred.”

[Courtesy: The New York Times. Michael S. Schmidt contributed reporting.]
December 3, 2015

Conversation about this article

1: Minna Kaur (Connecticut, USA), December 03, 2015, 10:18 AM.

God help America! And the rest of the world too, since the US remains, despite its ups and downs, the trendsetter around the world. Its attitude to violence appears to be the role model for all violent movements today, including the ISIS. Thanks to George W. Bush and his handlers.

2: Sunny Grewal (Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada), December 03, 2015, 4:11 PM.

Hate to say this, but after the recent one in San Bernardino, we might expect these shootings to spread.

3: Baldev Singh (Bradford, United Kingdom), December 03, 2015, 7:58 PM.

Ever since Columbus 'discovered' America, the gun has dominated the psyche of the European settlers who have used it to incarcerate, discriminate and exterminate the First Nations, African and Chinese slaves, and so on ... and now, it's simply a free for all. God bless America.

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On Average, Every Day"

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