Mass shooting

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Mass shooting refers to an incident involving multiple victims of gun violence. Mass shootings can be a form of mass murder, which is commonly categorized as the murder of four or more people with no cooling off period.[1][2] While the U.S. has 5% of the world's population, 31% of public mass shootings occur in the U.S.[3][4]


Mass shootings can be a form of mass murder, which is commonly categorized as the murder of four or more people with no cooling off period.[1] According to CNN, a mass shooting is defined as having four or more fatalities, not including gang killings or slayings that involve the death of multiple family members.[5]Some have argued that certain mass shootings should not be characterized as terrorism.[6] A U.S. congressional research service report excluded, from a study, mass shootings in which terrorist ideology was a motivation.[7] Some have argued that the term mass shooting should include domestic violence killings.[8]

Victims and survivors[edit]

In 2015 alone, there have been 294 mass shootings that killed or injured 1,464 people.[9][10][11] In the years 2013, 2014, 2015 combined 1,264 people were killed in the United States during mass shootings and 3,611 wounded, for a total of 4,875 shot.[12][13] Survivors of mass shootings can suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder.[14][15] There have been many shootings around the world where a large number of victims have died.[16] Survivors have written about other mass shooting incidents.[17]

One paper studied Swedish police officers' reactions to a mass shooting.[18] The father of a victim in a mass shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, wrote about witnessing other mass shootings after the loss of his son.[19] The survivors of the 2011 Norway attacks recounted their experience to GQ.[20] According to the Huffington Post, 57 percent of mass shootings in the United States between 2009 and July 2015 involved a family member or intimate partner and 81 percent of the victims were women and children.[21]


In the United States, the majority of mass shooters are male.[22][23] Notable American perpetrators include, among others, Nidal Malik Hasan, Charles Whitman, James Eagan Holmes, Seung-Hui Cho, and Aaron Alexis. Notable mass shooters from outside the United States include, among others, William Unek, Richard Komakech, Omar Abdul Razeq Abdullah Rifai, Martin Bryant, and Woo Bum-kon. Criminal histories and documented mental health problems did not prevent at least eight of the gunmen in fourteen mass shootings from obtaining firearms.[24]

Motives and reasons[edit]

Mass shootings can be motivated by terrorism and caused by mental illness, among many other reasons.[22] One criminologist claims that the individualistic culture in the United States puts the country at greater risk for mass shootings than other countries.[25] Others believe that people with mental illness are scapegoated as the cause of mass shootings.[26] Mass shooting expert and former FBI profiler Mary O'Toole characterizes some mass shooting perpetrators as "injustice collectors."[27] Author Dave Cullen described killer Eric Harris as an injustice collector in his 2009 book Columbine.[28] He expanded on the concept in a 2015 New Republic essay on injustice collectors,[29] identifying several notorious killers as fitting the category, including Christopher Dorner, Elliot Rodger, Vester Flanagan, and Andrew Kehoe. The essay quoted O'Toole and Gary Noesner, who helped create and lead the FBI's hostage negotiation unit, and served as Chief Negotiator for ten years.[citation needed] In a 2011 column, criminologist James Alan Fox contended that mass murderers typically experience "years of disappointment and failure that produce a mix of profound hopelessness and deep-seated resentment."[30]


In 2015, The Washington Post reported 204 mass shootings occurring in the U.S. in that year alone, according to[31] In August 2015, the Washington Post reported that the United States was averaging one mass shooting per day.[32]

After the Charleston church shooting, U.S. President Barack Obama said, "At some point, we as a country [the United States] will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries. It doesn't happen in other places with this kind of frequency."[33][34]


Media attention[edit]

Some people have considered whether media attention revolving around the perpetrators of mass shootings is a factor in sparking further incidents.[35] The effects of messages used in the coverage of mass shootings has been studied. Researchers also studied the role the coverage plays in shaping attitudes toward persons with serious mental illness and public support for gun control policies.[36]

Some in law enforcement have decided against naming mass shooting suspects in media-related events, in order to avoid giving them notoriety.[37]

Gun law reform[edit]

After the Port Arthur massacre in Australia, the government changed gun laws in Australia.[38][39] Some in the U.S. believe that tightening gun laws would prevent future mass shootings.[40] Others contend that mass shootings are a side effect of gun control itself, as they occur almost exclusively in locations where ordinary citizens cannot legally be armed (and therefore, typically are not). Some politicians in the U.S. introduced legislation to reform the background check system for purchasing a gun.[41] After experiencing several deadly mass shootings, Great Britain enacted tough gun laws.[42]

Others believe that mass shootings should not be the main focus in the gun law reform debate because these shootings account for less than one percent of the U.S. homicide rate and believe that these shootings are hard to stop. They often argue that civilians with concealed guns will be able to stop shootings.[43]


As of October 2015, U.S. President Barack Obama had given speeches on eleven different mass shootings.[44]


  1. ^ a b Follman, Mark. "What Exactly Is A Mass Shooting". Mother Jones. Retrieved August 9, 2015. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ Becker, Kyle. "If You Look at This Chart of Top 10 Nations in the World for Mass Shootings – One Thing Jumps Out". IJReview. Retrieved August 11, 2015. 
  4. ^ Christensen, Jen (August 28, 2015). "Why the U.S. has the most mass shootings". CNN. 
  5. ^ Christensen, Jen (August 28, 2015). "Why the U.S. has the most mass shootings". CNN. 
  6. ^ "Why We Shouldn't Call Recent Mass Shootings Terrorism". Esquire. 2015-07-30. Retrieved 2015-10-08. 
  7. ^ Goldfarb, Zachary. "11 essential facts about guns and mass shootings in the United States". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 11, 2015. 
  8. ^ Starr, Terrell. "The under-reported truth behind most mass shootings". AlterNet. Retrieved 6 September 2015. 
  9. ^ "More than one mass shooting happens per day in the U.S., data shows". PBS NewsHour. Retrieved 2015-10-08. 
  10. ^ "Meet the Press Transcript - October 4, 2015". NBC News. Retrieved 2015-10-08. 
  11. ^ "Obama on Oregon shooting: "Our thoughts and prayers are not enough"". Retrieved 2015-10-08. 
  12. ^ "The Prospector : Taking a bullet for student safety". Retrieved 2015-10-08. 
  13. ^ "Map: Mass shootings in the US in 2015 - The Boston Globe". Retrieved 2015-10-08. 
  14. ^ Simmons, Laura. "Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in Mass Shooting Survivors". Liberty Voice. Retrieved August 11, 2015. 
  15. ^ "Impact of Mass Shootings on Individual Adjustment" (PDF). National Center for PTSD. Retrieved August 11, 2015. 
  16. ^ "Deadliest Mass Shootings Around The World". The Associated Press. Retrieved August 11, 2015. 
  17. ^ Follman, Mark. ""I Was a Survivor": Recalling a Mass Shooting 4 Years Ago Today". Mother Jones. Retrieved August 11, 2015. 
  18. ^ Karlsson, Ingemar. "Memories of traumatic events among swedish police officers". Stockholm University. Retrieved August 11, 2015. 
  19. ^ Teves, Tom. ""Something is very wrong in our society": Father of mass-shooting victim calls for an end to the carnage". Salon. Retrieved 12 August 2015. 
  20. ^ Flynn, Sean. "Is he coming? Is he? Oh God, I think he is.". GQ. Retrieved August 12, 2015. 
  21. ^ Starr, Terrell. "The under-reported truth behind most mass shootings". AlterNet. Retrieved 6 September 2015. 
  22. ^ a b Frum, David. "Mass Shootings Are Preventable". The Atlantic. Retrieved 11 August 2015. 
  23. ^ Kluger, Jeffrey. "Why Mass Killers Are Always Male". Time. Retrieved August 11, 2015. 
  24. ^ Buchanan, Larry. "How They Got Their Guns". New York Times. Retrieved 3 October 2015. 
  25. ^ Dorell, Oren. "In Europe, fewer mass killings due to culture not guns". USA Today. Retrieved August 11, 2015. 
  26. ^ Wolf, Amy. "Mental Illness is the wrong scapegoat after mass shootings". Vanderbilt University. Retrieved August 12, 2015. 
  27. ^ Bekiempis, Victoria. "Meet Mass-Shooting Expert Mary Ellen O'Toole". Newsweek. Retrieved 6 September 2015. 
  28. ^ "Finally understand why. Dave Cullen's Edgar-winning Columbine book: the Columbine killers, shooting & myths". Retrieved 2015-09-27. 
  29. ^ Cullen, Dave. "Inside the Warped Mind of Vester Flanagan and Other Shooters". The New Republic. Retrieved 2015-09-27. 
  30. ^ James Alan Fox (January 16, 2011). The real causes of mass murder. Retrieved November 25, 2015.
  31. ^ Ingraham, Christopher. "There have been 204 mass shootings — and 204 days — in 2015 so far". Washington Post. Retrieved August 11, 2015. 
  32. ^ Ingraham, Christopher. "We’re now averaging more than one mass shooting per day in 2015". Washington Post. Retrieved September 6, 2015. 
  33. ^ Benen, Steve. "Comparing U.S. mass shootings to the rest of the world". MSNBC. Retrieved August 11, 2015. 
  34. ^ Herring, Keely. "Is Barack Obama correct that mass killings don't happen in other countries?". PoltiFact. 
  35. ^ Birch, Jenna. "Does Media Coverage After a Mass Shooting Do More Harm Than Good?". Yahoo. Retrieved August 11, 2015. 
  36. ^ McGinty, Emma. "Effects of News Media Messages About Mass Shootings on Attitudes Toward Persons With Serious Mental Illness and Public Support for Gun Control Policies". American Journal of Psychiatry. Retrieved August 11, 2015. 
  37. ^ Elinson, Zusha. "More Police Decide Against Naming Mass-Shooting Suspects". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved October 5, 2015. 
  38. ^ Grimson, Matthew. "Port Arthur Massacre: The Shooting Spree That Changed Australia's Gun Laws". NBC News. Retrieved October 3, 2015. 
  39. ^ Chapman, S. "Australia's 1996 gun law reforms: faster falls in firearm deaths, firearm suicides, and a decade without mass shootings". PubMed Central. Retrieved August 11, 2015. 
  40. ^ Collins, Sam. "One Change To Our Gun Laws That Could Have Prevented The Last Mass Shooting". Think Progress. Retrieved August 12, 2015. 
  41. ^ Weinberg, Ali. "These 6 Stalled Bills Aimed at Mass Shootings Like Umpqua Flounder in Congress". ABC News. Retrieved October 3, 2015. 
  42. ^ Hartmann, Margaret. "How Australia and Britain Tackled Gun Violence". Daily Intelligencer. Retrieved October 3, 2015. 
  43. ^ Volokh, Eugene. "Do civilians with guns ever stop mass shootings?". Washington Post. Retrieved October 5, 2015. 
  44. ^ Korte, Gregory. "11 mass shootings, 11 speeches: How Obama has responded". USA Today. Retrieved October 3, 2015. 

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