Sunday, August 7

Mass shootings in the United States, increasingly frequent and with more victims

Early in the morning of July 4, Independence Day in the United States, the country’s president, Joe Biden, referred to the day as an occasion to “celebrate the goodness of our country.”

United States unable to control weapons despite another massacre of children

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Less than an hour after the presidential tweet at 9:25 a.m. Washington time, a gunman opened fire from a rooftop on a crowd of spectators gathering to enjoy a July 4 parade at a Chicago suburb. He killed seven people and injured dozens.

Monday’s shooting in Highland Park, in the state of Illinois, has caused further shock to a country that this year had already been shaken by the massacre at the Uvalde school in Texas, and by the massacre in a supermarket in Buffalo. , In New York.

The perception that mass shootings are becoming more frequent is correct, according to an analysis of the Marshall Project, a medium specialized in covering crime and justice issues.

According to one of the most conservative definitions of “mass shootings”, according to which it is the one that occurs when an armed person kills four or more strangers in a public place, the number of this type of action has increased in recent years. recent years along with the dead.

Mass shootings account for only a fraction of the number of daily gun deaths in the United States, where about 124 people are killed by gun violence each day.

More mass shootings than ever

Our analysis is based on data from the Violence Projecta nonprofit research group that has opted for a narrow definition of mass shootings adopted by the Congressional Research Service, which advises lawmakers.

Between 2017 and 2021, there were 31 such massacres, compared to 24 between 2012 and 2016, according to data from the Violence Project. We compared five-year periods so we could measure trends over time, rather than focus on the drop to two incidents in 2020, which the researchers attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, or the spike caused by the shooting mass of 2017 in Las Vegas, in which 58 people died. There have been more mass shootings in the last five years than in any other period for as long as there are comparable records. That is, since 1966.

The Violence Project defines mass shootings as single incidents in which four or more people (not including the shooter) are killed in public places, such as schools, stores, or workplaces. It excludes murders that occur as a result of domestic violence or in the course of another crime, such as armed robbery or gang violence.

By this definition, there have been four mass shootings so far in 2022: Highland Park, Uvalde, Buffalo, and Tulsa, Oklahoma, where a gunman stormed a doctor’s office at a hospital, killing four people before take life The rate of incidents indicates that this year the trend is the same as the previous one in which there were six mass shootings, according to this definition.

Just as mass shootings in the United States have reached a record number, so too has the number of deaths and injuries. Between 2017 and 2021, shooters killed 299 people, about a third more than the 221 fatalities in the previous five-year period. The number of wounded was five times higher.

Much of the increase, both in deaths and injuries, is attributed to the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history, which occurred in 2017 at a music festival in Las Vegas. A man armed with multiple assault weapons killed 58 people. According to data from the Violence Project, another 887 people were injured, many of them in the stampede. But even excluding the massacre in Las Vegas, the number of deaths and injuries remained higher in the last five years compared to the previous one.

The July 4th mass shooting marks the fourth killing in less than three months. According to police sources, in all four, the perpetrators of these massacres used large-caliber weapons. President Biden signed into law the most important gun safety measure in decades last month, though the new law does not include a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, a provision that Biden and Democrats wanted to include.

What is a mass shooting?

Our analysis shows that in the last five years, assault weapons have been used in nearly half of all mass shootings. In the previous five years, they had been used in a third of the shootings.

There is no national, legal definition of a “mass shooting.” Various organizations track mass shootings, but use different criteria: some only count incidents in which three or more people are killed; others measure actions with at least four people dead or injured.

Jacob Kaplan, a criminologist at Princeton University’s School of Public and International Affairs, points out that the lack of consensus on the definition of “mass shooting” leads to confusion when discussing this problem, let alone attempts to address it.

“If you have one definition of a mass shooting and I have another, it becomes difficult to even start the conversation,” Kaplan says. “It’s not that one of them is right and the other is wrong. It’s just that you need to be precise. And that is something that tends to get lost in the media and certainly in the political debate,” she notes.

Some researchers insist on the importance of including both the injured and the fatalities when analyzing mass shootings. Jaclyn Schildkraut, a professor of criminal justice at the State University of New York at Oswego, says victims are more likely to be injured than killed in recent years because of faster police and emergency response times and medical advances. Schildkraut is the interim director of the Regional Gun Violence Research Consortium, based at the Rockefeller Institute of Governance, a public policy think tank based in Albany, New York.

Schildkraut defines a mass shooting as an act in a public place with multiple victims, wounded or dead, and the author targets the victims randomly or “for their symbolic value” such as black churchgoers. By this definition, there have been 402 mass shootings with 3,590 people killed or injured from 1966 to 2020, with a sharp increase in recent years. More than half of these shootings, 219, occurred at the perpetrator’s workplace or school.

One of the deadliest years

The Gun Violence Archive, an independent research group, uses a broad definition of a mass shooting: an action in which four or more people, not including the perpetrator, are killed or injured. Includes shootings related to gang activity, street fights, or domestic violence.

The group has counted 2,403 mass shootings between 2017 and 2021, with 2,495 dead and 10,225 injured. The group’s data reveals a sharp increase in recent years: 692 mass shootings in 2021, 66% more than the 417 in 2019.

The group has counted 318 mass shootings as of 3 p.m. on July 5. This puts 2022 on track to become one of the deadliest years since the group started tracking these crimes in 2014.

Like the Violence Project, the Everytown for Gun Safety initiative defines a mass shooting as an incident in which four or more people are killed with a firearm, excluding the shooter. Everytown counts incidents that “occur in both public and private places, regardless of the number of attackers, and are the result of a wide variety of motives, such as group violence, domestic violence or terrorist violence.” By the group’s tally, there have been 110 incidents in the past five years, compared to 96 between 2012 and 2016.

The FBI keeps track of what it calls “active gunmen”: one or more individuals who are actively engaged in killing with firearms or attempting to kill people in a populated area. Those cases have nearly doubled since 2017, to 61 incidents in 2021 that left 103 dead and 140 injured.

This article has been published in collaboration with the Marshall Projecta nonprofit outlet that covers the American criminal justice system.

Translation of Emma Reverter