Thursday, December 3, 2015

US mass shootings becoming more frequent – and more deadly

US mass shootings becoming more frequent – and more deadly
by Mona Chalabi, 12/2/15, cross-posted from The Guardian

The shooting in San Bernardino with 14 victims has added to the growing number over the past three decades, but support for gun control has fallen

Mass shootings have become an everyday occurrence in the US. Photograph: The Guardian

The shooting in San Bernardino with 14 victims has added to the growing number of mass shootings in the US.
The San Bernardino sheriff’s department confirmed 14 people are dead in Wednesday’s shooting. That would make this the worst killing since 26 people were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary school in 2012 and the sixth deadliest mass shooting since 1982, according to a database built by Mother Jones.

FBI active shooter statistics
 FBI active shooter statistics Photograph: FBI

More shootings

In 2014, 336 mass shootings were recorded by a 
Reddit community which tracks all incidents where four or more individuals are injured (including the shooter). That number has already been surpassed this year. In the 334 days since 1 January, there have been 351 mass shootings in the country – that total doesn’t include today’s shooting.

The number of victims has also risen. In 2014, 383 people were killed in mass shootings and 1,239 were injured. So far this year, 447 individuals have been killed and 1,292 injured.
Official numbers can be found from a report published by the FBI last year, which studied active shooting situations (though their definition of a mass shooting is broader and includes all incidents where “an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area”). The FBI figures point to a rise since 2000 both in the number of incidents and the number of casualties.

Increasingly frequent mass shootings

Increasingly frequent mass shootings. Photograph: Mother JonesFewer days between mass shootings

The last mass shooting occurred just five days ago at a 
Planned Parenthood clinicin Colorado Springs, when a gunman killed three people and injured nine others. That too appears to be part of a wider pattern where the interval between shootings is falling. An analysis from the Harvard School of Public Health and Northeastern University last year found that between 1982 and 2011 mass shootings occurred every 200 days on average. Between 2011 and 2014, they occurred every 64 days as the chart above from Mother Jones shows.

More support for gun ownership

Despite the rise in the number of mass shootings, public opinion about gun control has shifted over that period away from controlling gun ownership according to Pew Research Center.

Their survey question, which has been asked since 1993, has been criticised as polarizing and too simplistic. The question asks: “What do you think is more important – to protect the right of Americans to own guns or to control gun ownership?”  However, separate questions about banning specific weapons also point to rising support for the right to own guns.

When Pew has conducted surveys immediately before and after shootings, they have found that violence has little effect on public opinion about gun control.