In the wake of the tragic murder of 17 innocent students and teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, students, educators, politicians, and activists are searching for solutions to prevent future school shootings.
As emotions morph from grief to anger to resolve, it is vitally important to supply facts so that policymakers and professionals can fashion solutions based on objective data rather than well-intended but misguided emotional fixes.
Are there ways to reduce gun violence and school shootings? Yes, but only after objectively assessing the facts and working collaboratively to fashion common-sense solutions.
- “Mass shooting” typically refers to mass killings perpetrated by a firearm or firearms. In 2013, Congress defined “mass killing” as “3 or more killings in a single incident.”
- A prominent 2017 study defined “mass public shootings” as incidents that occur in the absence of other criminal activity (such as robberies, drug deals, and gang-related turf wars) in which a gun is used to kill four or more victims at a public location.
1. Mass killings are rare, and mass public shootings are even rarer.
- Mass killings are very rare, accounting for only 0.2 percent of homicides every year and approximately 1 percent of homicide victims.
- Only 12 percent of mass killings are mass public shootings. Most mass killings are familicides (murders of family members or intimate partners) and felony-related killings (such as robberies gone awry or gang-related “turf battles”).
- Although there has been a slight increase in the frequency of mass public shootings over the past few years, the rates are still similar to what the United States experienced in the 1980s and early 1990s.
2. Many gun control measures are not likely to be helpful.