Mass Public Shootings (MPS) are most commonly defined as follows:
However, there isn’t yet a universally accepted definition of the term. So academic researchers, various media outlets, government organizations (e.g., the Centers for Disease Control, U.S. Department of Education), advocacy groups (e.g., Everytown for Gun Safety), other entities (e.g., GunViolenceArchive.org’s Mass Shootings Tracker) and law enforcement agencies frequently use different definitions when discussing mass public shootings. This can lead to biased statistics and complicates our understanding of mass public shooting trends and the relationship to gun policy.
Between 1988 (when officials began documenting detailed information) and August 4, 2019, assault rifles were used in only 14 percent of those events.
Although mass public shootings account for only 0.1 percent of the total firearm-related mortality between 2000 and 2014, they bring national attention to the issue of firearm violence. Then a familiar series of events follow: First, there is a discussion of how that particular event could have been prevented, followed by a public outcry that stricter gun laws are needed. In actuality, existing laws that, if followed, may have prevented the event in question, are often not enforced.
In March, based on Michael Siegel Claire Boine’s article entitled “What Are The Most Effective Policies In Reducing Gun Homicides?”, knee-jerk reactions rooted in emotion will not solve the problem. To date, evidence shows that the problem requires solutions that are versatile and grounded in evidence. Analysis shows no significant association between homicide rates and assault weapons bans, large-capacity ammunition magazine bans, one-gun-per-month laws, “stand your ground” laws or prohibitions on gun trafficking.
The findings suggest that laws which regulate the “what” (i.e., what guns/products are allowed) do not have much of an impact on overall population homicide. In contrast, laws that regulate the “who” (i.e., who has legal access to firearms) may have an appreciable impact on firearm homicide, especially if access is restricted specifically to those people who are at the greatest risk of violence: Namely, people who have a history of violence or represent an imminent threat of violence.
While the U.S. population is 4.6 percent of the world total, only 1.43 percent of mass public shooters were American.
Also documented by the Heritage Foundation, bombings, mass stabbings and car attacks frequently kill more people in foreign countries than even the deadliest mass shootings in the United States. Consider the following:
Great Britain (2017) — Bombing: 22 deaths, 250 injuries
From 1988 through August of 2019, more than 85 percent of Mass Public Shootings have occurred in gun-free zones.
Using the GunFacts.info MPS Database, which contains the 71 MPS (using the FBI definition) documented in the U.S. between 1988 and August 4, 2019, more than 85 percent of MPS have been perpetrated in gun-free zones. (Although the data set goes back to 1982, detailed information began to be documented in 1988.) These gun-free zones include 17 workplaces, 12 schools, five churches and three shopping malls.As reported by GunFacts.info, in addition to gun-free zones, some MPS with the highest fatalities have another common factor. Defined by GunFacts.info, they occurred in “cattle pen” scenarios:
Shooters research locations where they can pen in large numbers of potential victims, giving them the potential for a higher body count. In those situations, marksmanship becomes less relevant or even irrelevant. Simply firing into the crowd will result in deaths.Upon reviewing MPS data, GunFacts observed certain years showed dramatically large spikes in terms of the number of victims of such attacks. They noted, “the most prominent of the spikes were the years of the Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, Pulse Nightclub, Las Vegas music festival and Sutherland Springs church shootings. The average number of fatalities of those events is 5.4 times larger than the average for all other events in the 21st century.”