It’s not your imagination, nor is it media hype: mass shootings really are on the rise in the US, according to a report released by the FBI on Wednesday. The study assessed 160 so-called “active shooter incidents”, in which a gunman shot multiple people in the US between 2000 and 2013, and found that the number of such incidents had spiked in recent years.
During the first seven years covered by the study, there were an average of 6.4 mass shootings annually. That figure more than doubled, to 16.4 shootings per year on average, between 2007 and 2013. A combined 1,043 people were shot in the incidents, 486 of whom were killed. More than two-thirds of the shootings took place at schools and businesses. Sixty per cent of the incidents were over before police responded and, in around one in four cases, the shooters killed themselves.
In 2012, the most violent year recorded in the study, 90 people were killed and 118 injured in a total of 21 mass shootings, including the July shootings at a cinema in Aurora, Colorado, in which 12 people died; and the Newtown shootings of December 2012, when 20-year-old Adam Lanza killed 20 children, six staff and himself at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. The report found that shootings were just as likely to happen in urban or rural areas. Forty US states and the District of Columbia had all seen such incidents. The shooters acted alone in all but two of the incidents, and of all 160 shootings, only six were carried out by female shooters. The study did not include gang-related violence, or shootings in self-defence.
Though they did not offer a conclusive explanation for the dramatic increase in mass shootings, officials said they believed there could be a copycat element to the trend, with gunmen inspired by previous incidents. The goal of the report, conducted by the FBI in conjunction with Texas State University, was to identify common themes in mass shootings, and to better prepare local law enforcement to deal with them.
An “active shooter incident”, the study said, is different from many other violent crimes because “law enforcement personnel and citizens have the potential to affect the outcome of the event based upon their responses.” The spike in shootings, it added, “reinforces the need to remain vigilant regarding prevention efforts... and for law enforcement to aggressively train to better respond to - and help communities recover from - active shooter incidents.”Reuse content