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Mass Killings Occur Every 64 Days
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Mass Killings Occur Every 64 Days

Summary: Although media reports recently stated that the number of mass shootings and killings had decreased, a recent Harvard study demonstrates that they have actually increased significantly since 2011.

A new Harvard study reveals that mass shootings in the United States have skyrocketed in the past three years, the Huffington Post reports. The data, which sadly may not be surprising to many Americans, demonstrates that mass shootings have increased threefold since 2011—an average of one mass shooting every 64 days. From 1982 to 2011, the average was one every 200 days.


A database created by Mother Jones was used by researchers to study the shootings. “Mass shooting” was defined as an attack that “took place in public, in which the shooter and the victims generally were unrelated and unknown to each other, and in which the shooter murdered four or more people.”

Last month, the Federal Bureau of Investigation released a report that stated active shooter incidents have increased substantially over the past six years. From 2007 to 2013, there was an average of 16.4 shootings per year. From 2000 to 2006, the average was 6.4 shootings.

The graph in the photo details how the researchers from Harvard plotted the increase in shootings that have occurred since 2011.

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Previously, the media had reported that mass shootings and killings had not increased. Harvard researchers slammed those findings, basing them on “flawed research” by James Alan Fox, a criminologist at Northeastern University. Fox’s definition of mass shootings included any killing with a gun that resulted in the deaths of four or more people. Therefore, domestic shootings in private residences were included in his research, as well as gang-related and drug-related killings.

Mother Jones’ senior editor Mark Follman explained the distinction’s relevance: “Our focus has been on public attacks as opposed to domestic attacks. Domestic killings are no less serious, but they are a different kind of problem. It’s terrible when a mentally disturbed person slaughters his whole family in his home, but that’s different from indiscriminate killing.”

Fox responded, “Why would it be ‘flawed’ to include all cases of mass shootings, rather than trying to impose somewhat arbitrary criteria. Four or more killed with a gun IS a mass shooting, no matter where it takes place and by whom. To the victims who are slain…they are just as dead.”

The time between shootings was also examined by the Harvard group. “This is more effective than counting the annual number of incidents because it is more sensitive to detecting changes in frequency when the number of events per year is small, as is the case with public mass shootings,” they explained.

Follman hopes that the data will allow policymakers to implement changes that may help prevent mass killings in the future. “The universal goal is we want to prevent these from happening. You have to understand the problem better and track the problem accurately. The clearer the data we can get on mass shootings the better.”

Photo credit: Huffington Post


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