|Part of a series on|
Note: Varies by jurisdiction
Note: Varies by jurisdiction
|By victim or victims|
A mass shooting is an incident involving multiple victims of gun violence. The United States' Congressional Research Service acknowledges that there is not a broadly accepted definition, and defines a "public mass shooting" as one in which four or more people selected indiscriminately, not including the perpetrator, are killed, echoing the FBI definition of the term "mass murder". Another unofficial definition of a mass shooting is an event involving the shooting (not necessarily resulting in death) of 10 or more people with no cooling-off period. Related terms include school shooting and massacre. The lack of a single definition can lead to alarmism in the news media, with some reports conflating categories of crimes.
A mass shooting may be committed by individuals or organizations in public or non-public places. Terrorist groups in recent times have used the tactic of mass shootings to fulfill their political aims. Individuals who commit mass shootings may fall into any of a number of categories, including killers of family, of coworkers, of students, and of random strangers. Individuals' motives for shooting vary.
Responses to mass shootings take a variety of forms, depending on the context: number of casualties, the country and political climate, among other factors. Countries such as Australia and the United Kingdom have changed their gun laws in the wake of mass shootings. The news media and other types of media cover mass shootings extensively, and the effect of that coverage has been examined.
- 1 Definition
- 2 By region
- 3 Victims and survivors
- 4 Perpetrators
- 5 Motives
- 6 Responses
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
The characterization of an event as a mass shooting depends upon definition and definitions vary. Under US federal law the Attorney General may on a request from a state assist in investigating "mass killings", rather than mass shootings. The term was originally defined as the murder of four or more people with no cooling-off period but redefined by Congress in 2013 as being murder of three or more people. 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. In "Behind the Bloodshed", a report by USAToday, a mass killing is defined as any incident in which four or more were killed and also includes family killings. A crowdsourced data site cited by CNN, MSNBC, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Economist, the BBC, etc., Mass Shooting Tracker, defines a mass shooting as any incident in which four or more people are shot, whether injured or killed. A noteworthy connection has been reported in the US between mass shootings and domestic or family violence, with a current or former intimate partner or family member killed in 76 of 133 cases (57%), and a perpetrator having previously been charged with domestic violence in 21.
In Australia a 2006 academic paper defined a mass shooting as "one in which ⩾5 firearm‐related homicides are committed by one or two perpetrators in proximate events in a civilian setting, not counting any perpetrators".
An act is typically defined as terrorist if it "appears to have been intended" to intimidate or to coerce people; a mass shooting is not, in itself, an act of terrorism. A U.S. congressional research service report explicitly excluded from its definition of public mass shootings those in which the violence is a means to an end, for example where the gunmen "pursue criminal profit or kill in the name of terrorist ideologies".
Mass shootings have occurred on the African continent, including the 2015 Sousse attacks, the 2015 Bamako hotel attack, the 2013 Westgate shopping mall attack in Nairobi, Kenya, and the 1994 Kampala wedding massacre.
Several mass shootings have occurred in Asia, including the 1938 Tsuyama massacre, the 1983 Pashupatinath Temple shooting, the 1993 Chongqing shooting, and the 1994 Tian Mingjian incident. The single deadliest event was the 2008 Mumbai attacks in which 164 people were killed and a further 308 people were wounded by Pakistan based terrorists.
Japan has as few as two gun-related homicides per year. These numbers include all homicides in the country, not just mass shootings.
Several mass shootings have occurred in Europe, including the November 2015 Paris attacks, the 2012 Toulouse and Montauban shootings, the 2011 Norway attacks, the 2009 Winnenden school shooting, the 2008 Kauhajoki school shooting, the 2001 Zug massacre, the 2002 Erfurt massacre, the 1987 Hungerford massacre, the 1990 Puerto Hurraco massacre and the 2010 Cumbria shootings.
Several mass shootings have occurred in the Middle East. There have been several shootings with motives linked to terrorism, such as the Bat Mitzvah massacre in Israel. Other shootings include the 2013 Meet al-Attar shooting in Egypt.
Some studies have stated that more mass shootings occur in the United States than in other countries. Numbers listed by various sources differ as they use different definitions of what constitutes a "mass shooting". Despite this it has been estimated in one study that 31% of public mass shootings occur in the U.S, although it has only 5% of the world's population. CNN cites a study by criminologist A Lankford that finds that "there are more public mass shootings in the United States than in any other country in the world". The study concludes that "The United States and other nations with high firearm ownership rates may be particularly susceptible to future public mass shootings, even if they are relatively peaceful or mentally healthy according to other national indicators." Criminologist Gary Kleck criticized Adam's findings stating the study fails to provide evidence that gun ownership increases mass shootings. In contrast to Adam Lankfords findings, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development stated from its Rampage Shooting Index that per capita the United States ranks behind Norway, Finland, Slovakia, Israel, and Switzerland with 0.12 mass shootings per 1 million people.
The frequency in which mass shootings occur depends upon definition. Mother Jones listed seven mass shootings, defined as indiscriminate rampages in public places resulting in four or more victims killed, in the US for 2015. The average for the period 2011-2015 was about 5 a year. In "Behind the Bloodshed", a report by USA Today, said that there were mass killings every two weeks and that public mass killings account for 1 in 6 of all mass killings (26 killings annually would thus be equivalent to 26/6, 4 to 5, public killings per year). An analysis by Michael Bloomberg's gun violence prevention group, Everytown for Gun Safety identified 110 mass shootings, defined as shootings in which at least four people were murdered with a firearm, between January 2009 and July 2014; at least 57% were related to domestic or family violence. This would imply that not more than 43% of 110 shootings in 5.5 years were non-domestic, though not necessarily public or indiscriminate; this equates to 8.6 per year, broadly in line with the other figures.
Other media outlets have reported that hundreds of mass shootings take place in the United States in a single calendar year, citing a crowd-funded website known as Shooting Tracker which defines a mass shooting as having four or more people injured or killed. In December 2015, the Washington Post reported that there had been 355 mass shootings in the United States so far that year. In August 2015, the Washington Post reported that the United States was averaging one mass shooting per day. An earlier report had indicated that in 2015 alone, there had been 294 mass shootings that killed or injured 1,464 people. However, an article from Reddit stated that 42 percent of the incidents involved zero deaths, and 29 percent one death. Shooting Tracker and Mass Shooting Tracker, sites that the media have been citing, have been criticised for using a criterion much more inclusive than that used by the government—they count four victims injured as a mass shooting—thus producing much higher figures. According to statistical analysis, since 2011-2012, the rate of mass shootings have increased significantly.
Notable mass shootings include the 1992 Tatarstan shooting, the 2002 Yaroslavsky shooting, the 2002 Moscow theater hostage crisis, the 2004 Beslan school siege, the 2012 Moscow shooting, the 2013 Belgorod shooting, and the 2014 Moscow school shooting.
Victims and survivors
After mass shootings, some survivors have written about their experiences and their experiences have been covered by journalists. A survivor of the Knoxville Unitarian Universalist church shooting wrote about his reaction to other mass shooting incidents. 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. The survivors of the 2011 Norway attacks recounted their experience to GQ. In addition, one paper studied Swedish police officers' reactions to a mass shooting.
Notable mass shooters from outside the United States include Anders Behring Breivik (Norway, 2011), William Unek (Africa, 1954 and 1957), Marc Lepine (Canada, 1989), Pekka-Eric Auvinen and Matti Juhani Saari (Finland, 2007 and 2008), Richard Komakech (Uganda, 1994), Omar Abdul Razeq Abdullah Rifai (Egypt, 2013), Martin Bryant (Australia, 1996), Derrick Bird (England, 2010), Thomas Hamilton (Scotland, 1996) and Woo Bum-kon (South Korea, 1982).
Notable perpetrators of massacres in the US include Omar Mateen, James Oliver Huberty, Nathan Dunlap, George Hennard, Dylann Roof, Adam Lanza, Nidal Malik Hasan, Charles Whitman, Jeff Weise, Michael Carneal, Gang Lu, Patrick Sherrill, T.J. Lane, Barry Loukaitis, Amy Bishop, Christopher Harper-Mercer, Jaylen Fryberg, Scott Evans Dekraai, Steven Kazmierczak, James Eagan Holmes, Michael McLendon, Jared Lee Loughner, Seung-Hui Cho, Elliot Rodger, Charles Carl Roberts IV, Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, Robert Lewis Dear, Mitchell Johnson and Andrew Golden, Aaron Alexis, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, Kip Kinkel, Patrick Edward Purdy, Gavin Eugene Long, and Micah Xavier Johnson. United States mass shooters are overwhelmingly males. According to a database compiled by Mother Jones magazine, the race of the shooters is approximately proportionate to the overall US population, although Asians are overrepresented and Latinos underrepresented. Criminologist James Allen Fox said that most mass murderers do not have a criminal record, or involuntary incarceration at a mental health center; but an article in the New York Times in December 2015 about 15 recent mass shootings found that six perpetrators had had run-ins with law enforcement, and six had mental health issues.
Mass shootings can be motivated by terrorism and caused by mental illness, among other reasons. Forensic Psychologist Stephen Ross says that extreme anger and the thought shooters are working for a cause, rather than mental illness, is most often the explanation. A study by Vanderbilt University researchers found that "fewer than 5% of the 120,000 gun-related killings in the US between 2001 and 2010 were perpetrated by people diagnosed with mental illness". John Roman of the Urban Institute argues that, while better access to mental health care, restricting high powered weapons, and creating a defensive infrastructure to combat terrorism are constructive, they don't address the greater issue, which is "we have a lot of really angry young men in our country and in the world."
Author Dave Cullen described killer Eric Harris as an "injustice collector" in his 2009 book Columbine. He expanded on the concept in a 2015 New Republic essay on injustice collectors, identifying several notorious killers as fitting the category, including Christopher Dorner, Elliot Rodger, Vester Flanagan, and Andrew Kehoe. Likewise, mass shooting expert and former FBI profiler Mary O'Toole also uses the phrase "injustice collector" in characterizing motives of some mass shooting perpetrators. In relation, criminologist James Alan Fox contends that mass murderers are "enabled by social isolation" and typically experience "years of disappointment and failure that produce a mix of profound hopelessness and deep-seated resentment."
In considering the frequency of mass shootings in the United States, criminologist and gun-control advocate Peter Squires says that the individualistic culture in the United States puts the country at greater risk for mass shootings than other countries.
Some people have considered whether media attention revolving around the perpetrators of mass shootings is a factor in sparking further incidents. In response to this, some in law enforcement have decided against naming mass shooting suspects in media-related events, in order to avoid giving them notoriety.
The effects of messages used in the coverage of mass shootings has been studied. Researchers studied the role the coverage plays in shaping attitudes toward persons with serious mental illness and public support for gun control policies.
Some media publications have weighed in on the gun control debate. After the 2015 San Bernardino attack, The New York Daily News' front-page headline, "God isn't fixing this", was accompanied by "images of tweets from leading Republicans who shared their 'thoughts' and 'prayers' for the shooting victims".
Gun law reform
Responses to mass shootings take a variety of forms, depending on the country and political climate.
After the Port Arthur massacre in Australia, the government changed gun laws in Australia. As in the USA, figures vary according to the definition of "mass shooting"; a 2006 academic paper used a definition "one in which ⩾5 firearm‐related homicides are committed by one or two perpetrators in proximate events in a civilian setting, not counting any perpetrators", compared to the usual US definition of an indiscriminate rampage in public places resulting in four or more victims killed. Between 1981 and the passing of the law in 1996 there were 13 mass shootings with five or more victims; in the 10.5 years between the passing of the law and the publication of the paper there were no such mass shootings. There were four significant shootings, though not meeting the "mass shooting" definition of the 2006 paper, between 1996 and June 2016[update]: the Monash University shooting in 2002 in which Huan Yun Xiang shot and killed two and injured five, The Hectorville Siege in 2011 where 39-year-old man Donato Anthony Corbo shot four people on a neighbouring property (three of whom died), and also wounded two police officers, before being arrested by Special Operations police after an eight-hour siege, the Logan family shooting in 2014 of a neighbour family (Greg Holmes, 48, his mother Mary Lockhart, 75, and her husband Peter Lockhart, 78) by Ian Francis Jamieson and the Hunt family murders which was also in 2014 when a farmer shot dead 4 family members then later killed himself.
As a result of the 1987 Hungerford massacre and 1996 Dunblane school massacre mass shootings, the United Kingdom enacted tough gun laws and a buyback program to remove guns from private ownership.
In the United States, support for gun law reform varies considerably by political party, with Democrats generally more supportive and Republicans generally more opposed. Some in the U.S. believe that tightening gun laws would prevent future mass shootings. Some politicians in the U.S. introduced legislation to reform the background check system for purchasing a gun. A vast majority of Americans support tighter background checks. "According to a poll [...] by Quinnipiac University in Connecticut, 93 percent of registered voters said they would support universal background checks for all gun buyers."
Others contend 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.
As of June 2016, U.S. President Barack Obama had given speeches on thirteen different mass shootings during his seven-year presidency, repeatedly calling for more gun safety laws in the United States. After the Charleston church shooting, U.S. President Barack Obama said, "At some point, we as a country 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." After the December 2015 San Bernardino attack, Obama renewed his call for reforming gun safety laws and also said that mass shootings in the United States has "no parallel in the world."
- Weiss, Jeffrey (December 6, 2015). "Mass shootings in the U.S. this year? 353 — or 4, depending on your definition". Dallas Morning News. Retrieved December 6, 2015.
- Bjelopera, Jerome P. (March 18, 2013). "Public Mass Shootings in the United States: Selected Implications for Federal Public Health and Safety Policy" (PDF). CRS Report for Congress. Congressional Research Service. Retrieved December 8, 2015. "There is no broadly agreed-to, specific conceptualization of this issue, so this report uses its own definition for public mass shootings."
- Follman, Mark. "What Exactly Is A Mass Shooting". Mother Jones. Retrieved August 9, 2015.
- Morton, Robert J. "Serial Murder". FBI Updates, Reports and Publications. Retrieved December 8, 2015.
- "About the Mass Shooting Tracker". Mass Shooting Tracker. Retrieved 13 June 2016.
- Mark Follman (December 18, 2015). "No, There Has Not Been a Mass Shooting Every Day This Year". Mother Jones.
- Follman, Mark (December 3, 2015). "How Many Mass Shootings Are There, Really?". New York Times. Retrieved December 6, 2015.
- "PUBLIC LAW 112–265" (PDF). United States Congress. January 14, 2013. Retrieved December 6, 2015.
- Christensen, Jen (August 28, 2015). "Why the U.S. has the most mass shootings". CNN.
- "Behind the Bloodshed". USA Today. Retrieved December 3, 2015.
- "Orlando club shootings: Full fury of gun battle emerges". - BBC News. 13 June 2016. Retrieved 13 June 2016. Cites Mass Shooting Tracker
- Melissa Jeltsen (18 July 2014). "Mass Shooting Analysis Finds Strong Domestic Violence Connection". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 13 June 2016.
- "Analysis of Mass Shootings". Everytownresearch.org. 20 August 2015. Retrieved 13 June 2016. This analysis has later figures than reported in the article
- Chapman, S. "Australia's 1996 gun law reforms: faster falls in firearm deaths, firearm suicides, and a decade without mass shootings". PubMed Central. PMC .
- Ana Swanson (3 December 2015). "When should a shooting really be called 'terrorism'?". The Washington Post. Retrieved 27 June 2016.
- Fisher, Max (July 23, 2012). "A Land Without Guns: How Japan Has Virtually Eliminated Shooting Deaths". The Atlantic. Retrieved December 16, 2015.
- Lankford, Adam (2016). "Public Mass Shooters and Firearms: A Cross-National Study of 171 Countries". Violence and Victims. 31 (2): 187–199. doi:10.1891/0886-6708.VV-D-15-00093. ISSN 0886-6708. (subscription required)
- Becker, Kyle. "If You Look at This Chart of Top 10 Nations in the World for Mass Shootings – One Thing Jumps Out". Independent Journal Review ("social first, mobile first news company"). Retrieved 15 June 2016.
- "International Mass Shooting Fatalities Continue to Climb | 2014-04-01". Security Magazine. 2014-04-01. Retrieved 2016-07-08.
- Mark Follman, Gavin Aronsen, and Deanna Pan (12 June 2016). "A Guide to Mass Shootings in America". Motherjones.com. Retrieved 13 June 2016.
- Mark Follman, Gavin Aronsen, and Deanna Pan. "US Mass Shootings, 1982-2016: Data From Mother Jones' Investigation". Motherjones.com. Retrieved 13 June 2016. Original date 28 December 2012 ; list updated every 5 minutes. Figures for years 2011-2015: 3, 7, 5, 4, 7.
- "The San Bernardino shooting is the second mass shooting today and the 355th this year". Washington Post. December 2, 2015. Retrieved December 16, 2015.
- Ingraham, Christopher (August 26, 2015). "We're now averaging more than one mass shooting per day in 2015". Washington Post. Retrieved September 6, 2015.
- "More than one mass shooting happens per day in the U.S., data shows". PBS NewsHour. Retrieved 2015-10-08.
- "More than 1 mass shooting per day in 2015? Reddit group keeping count". RT. December 1, 2015. Retrieved January 3, 2015.
- Stuart, Elizabeth (December 7, 2015). "NUMBER OF U.S. MASS SHOOTINGS GREATLY EXAGGERATED IN MEDIA, ACCLAIMED RESEARCHER STATES". Phoenix New Times. Retrieved December 10, 2015.
- Follman, Mark (July 27, 2012). "'I Was a Survivor': Recalling a Mass Shooting 4 Years Ago Today". Mother Jones. Retrieved August 11, 2015.
- Teves, Tom (July 31, 2015). "'Something is very wrong in our society': Father of mass-shooting victim calls for an end to the carnage". Salon. Retrieved August 12, 2015.
- Flynn, Sean (July 30, 2012). "Is he coming? Is he? Oh God, I think he is.". GQ. Retrieved August 12, 2015.
- Karlsson, Ingemar. "Memories of traumatic events among swedish police officers". Stockholm University. Retrieved August 11, 2015.
- Simmons, Laura (June 29, 2014). "Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in Mass Shooting Survivors". Liberty Voice. Retrieved August 11, 2015.
- "Impact of Mass Shootings on Individual Adjustment" (PDF). ptsd.va.gov. National Center for PTSD. Retrieved August 11, 2015.
- Frum, David (June 23, 2015). "Mass Shootings Are Preventable". The Atlantic. Retrieved August 11, 2015.
- Kluger, Jeffrey (May 25, 2014). "Why Mass Killers Are Always Male". Time. Retrieved August 11, 2015.
- Ford, Dana (July 24, 2015). "Who commits mass shootings?". CNN.
- Peters, Justin (2013-12-19). "Mass shootings in America: Northeastern criminologists James Alan Fox, Monica J. DeLateur in Homicide Studies refute common myths about mass murder". Slate.com. Retrieved 2016-07-08.
- Buchanan, Larry (December 3, 2015). "How They Got Their Guns". New York Times. Retrieved June 12, 2016.
- Campbell, Holly (December 2, 2015). "Inside the mind of a mass murderer". WANE.com. Retrieved December 10, 2015.
- Wolf, Amy (December 11, 2014). "Mental Illness is the wrong scapegoat after mass shootings". Vanderbilt University. Retrieved August 12, 2015.
- Angry young Men and Mass Killings. The Huffington Post. June 16, 2016.
- "Finally understand why. Dave Cullen's Edgar-winning Columbine book: the Columbine killers, shooting & myths". davecullen.com. Retrieved September 27, 2015.
- Cullen, Dave (August 31, 2015). "Inside the Warped Mind of Vester Flanagan and Other Shooters". The New Republic. Retrieved September 27, 2015.
- Bekiempis, Victoria (September 4, 2015). "Meet Mass-Shooting Expert Mary Ellen O'Toole". Newsweek. Retrieved September 6, 2015.
- Fox, James Alan (January 16, 2011). "The real causes of mass murder". Boston.com. Retrieved November 25, 2015.
- "James Alan Fox: In San Bernardino, focus on the murderous partnership". USA Today. December 3, 2015.
- Peter Squires (3 June 2010). "Gun control could have prevented Cumbria shootings". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 June 2016.
- Dorell, Oren (December 18, 2012). "In Europe, fewer mass killings due to culture not guns". USA Today. Retrieved August 11, 2015.
- Birch, Jenna (July 27, 2015). "Does Media Coverage After a Mass Shooting Do More Harm Than Good?". Yahoo! News. Retrieved August 11, 2015.
- Elinson, Zusha; Lazo, Alejandro (October 4, 2015). "More Police Decide Against Naming Mass-Shooting Suspects". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved October 5, 2015.
- McGinty, Emma (2013). "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. American Journal of Psychiatry. 170 (5): 494–501. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.2013.13010014. PMID 23511486. Retrieved August 11, 2015.
- Colin Campbell (December 2, 2015). "Hard-hitting Daily News cover blasts Republicans for offering only 'prayers' after latest shooting". Business Insider. Retrieved December 3, 2015.
- Fang, Marina (December 2, 2015). "New York Daily News Skewers Politicians Refusing to Act on Gun Violence: 'God Isn't Fixing This'". Huffington Post. Retrieved December 2, 2015.
- Grimson, Matthew (October 2, 2015). "Port Arthur Massacre: The Shooting Spree That Changed Australia's Gun Laws". NBC News. Retrieved October 3, 2015.
- Hartmann, Margaret (October 2, 2015). "How Australia and Britain Tackled Gun Violence". Daily Intelligencer. Retrieved October 3, 2015.
- Collins, Sam (July 28, 2015). "One Change To Our Gun Laws That Could Have Prevented The Last Mass Shooting". Think Progress. Retrieved August 12, 2015.
- Weinberg, Ali (October 2, 2015). "These 6 Stalled Bills Aimed at Mass Shootings Like Umpqua Flounder in Congress". ABC News. Retrieved October 3, 2015.
- Andrews, Becca (October 1, 2015). "An Overwhelming Majority of Americans Still Support Universal Background Checks". Mother Jones. Retrieved December 16, 2015.
- Volokh, Eugene (October 3, 2015). "Do civilians with guns ever stop mass shootings?". Washington Post. Retrieved October 5, 2015.
- Korte, Gregory (October 2, 2015). "11 mass shootings, 11 speeches: How Obama has responded". USA Today. Retrieved October 3, 2015.
- Benen, Steve (June 23, 2015). "Comparing U.S. mass shootings to the rest of the world". MSNBC. Retrieved August 11, 2015.
- Tani, Maxwell (December 2, 2015). "OBAMA: 'We have a pattern now of mass shootings ... that has no parallel'". Business Insider. Retrieved December 16, 2015.
- Timeline: Deadliest U.S. mass shootings
- Public Mass Shootings in the United States: Selected Policy Implications Congressional Research Service
- Algoworld: Scientific Ways To Predict Mass Shootings
- Washington Case Revives Debate About 'Contagious' Mass Shootings
- Yes, Mass Shootings Are Occurring More Often. Mother Jones. October 21, 2014.