Rate of Mass Shootings Has Tripled Since 2011, Harvard Research Shows

By Amy P. Cohen, Deborah Azrael, and Matthew Mille
US News • Views: 36,709

Another epidemic worse than Ebola.

Also — claims in the media that mass shootings aren’t increasing are wrong.

Check out this horrifying Harvard timeline graphic:

Have mass shootings become more common?

According to our statistical analysis of more than three decades of data, in 2011 the United States entered a new period in which mass shootings are occurring more frequently. Our analysis used data compiled by Mother Jones on attacks 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. (An incident with four or more homicide victims was the threshold count for mass killing established by the FBI a decade ago; a federal law signed by President Obama in 2013 defined the threshold as three or more victims killed.)

So why do we keep hearing in the media that mass shootings have not increased?

This view stems from the work of Northeastern University criminologist James Alan Fox, who has long maintained that mass shootings are a stable phenomenon. (“The growing menace lies more in our fears than in the facts,” he has said.) But Fox’s oft-cited claim is based on a misguided approach to studying the problem: The data he uses includes all homicides in which four or more people were murdered with a gun. His analysis, which counts the number of events per year, lumps together mass shootings in public places with a far more numerous set of mass murders that are contextually distinct—a majority of which stem from domestic violence and occur in private homes. Fox’s annual count and use of overly broad data including many types of mass killings fail to detect the recent shift in public mass shootings.

More: Rate of Mass Shootings Has Tripled Since 2011, Harvard Research Shows

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