It’s a platitude, nowadays, to point out that mass shootings are no longer surprising. They happen too consistently to come as a shock, after all, and reading headlines about deadly attacks is now just a regular part of life in America. And while mass shootings still inspire sorrow and outrage, they can also elicit resignation — that moment after hearing about one, when you think something like: “Damn. Not another.”
But mass shootings were not always this frequent, nor were they always this deadly. A Trace analysis of data from the Gun Violence Archive shows that mass shootings, defined as four or more people shot (excluding the shooter), have more than doubled over the past decade. And while mass shooting events account for less than 5 percent of the nation’s gun violence toll, the data suggests that over the years, daily shootings have grown to include more victims. Similar to mass shootings, mass murders — shootings where four or more victims are killed — have nearly doubled.
In July, the Indianapolis Star reported on another troubling trend: Family annihilation, events where one person kills two or more close family members, appears to be on the rise. Per the paper’s analysis, there have been at least 227 family annihilations, also called familicides, since 2020 — averaging out to one every five days. The vast majority of these homicides, characterized as a “predominantly American phenomenon,” were carried out with guns.
Research has solidified the connection between domestic violence and a propensity for public acts of violence — and that when mass shooters target an intimate partner or family member, more people tend to die. But domestic mass gun murders, like family annihilation, infrequently make national headlines, because they usually occur behind closed doors and typically pose no threat to the wider public.
Most of the mass shootings over the past decade, in fact, took place out of the public eye — many of them similar to the kind you’d otherwise get news alerts about, all of them devastating. Among those are shootings with a large number of wounded, often in communities of color, and often ignored by national media.
The Trace’s analysis found that, in all, more than 15 million Americans have now had a mass shooting in their immediate neighborhood. Mass shootings take place in cities and rural areas, in suburbs and small towns, in homes, in streets, in schools, in movie theaters, in stores, in churches, in clubs. There is no single common denominator. “You see all this stuff that happens all over the country,” a resident of Albuquerque, New Mexico, said after a mass shooting. “And then it happens right here.”
From Our Team
A roundup of the latest stories from The Trace.
The first episode of The Gun Machine tells the story of how, without the federal government, the gun industry as we know it might not exist at all.
Episode 2: Handgun advertisers often insist that firearms need to be carried for self-protection. But protection from whom?
The National Shooting Sports Foundation has dragged questionable evidence into a newly urgent debate about the meaning of “common use.”
As the United States faces a record number of mass shootings, data from the Gun Violence Archive suggests that multiple-casualty incidents are accelerating.
What to Know This Week
The Supreme Court’s new term formally began this week, and perhaps the biggest case under the high court’s consideration focuses on the scope of its Bruen decision last June. The case, U.S. v. Rahimi, concerns the constitutionality of a federal ban on gun possession by people subject to domestic violence restraining orders — and the outcome could have implications for a wide range of public safety laws nationwide. [The New Republic]
Five people were wounded in a shooting during homecoming festivities at Morgan State University in Baltimore on Tuesday, marking the third straight year that the university’s homecoming week has been marred by gun violence. Homecoming has a special meaning for the historically Black university’s students and alumni, with many likening it to a family reunion. [The Baltimore Banner/CBS Baltimore]
Gun-related deaths among U.S. children and teenagers under the age of 18 have increased at an “alarming” rate over the past decade, according to a new analysis published in the medical journal Pediatrics. The findings support other data showing that firearm injuries are now the leading cause of death in young Americans. [The Guardian/The New York Times]
Tennessee state Representative Justin Jones filed a federal lawsuit against several members of the state House, including the speaker, alleging that GOP efforts to expel the Nashville Democrat from the chamber for participating in an anti-gun violence demonstration last spring were unconstitutional. [Nashville Tennessean]
The Michigan Supreme Court ruled that James and Jennifer Crumbley, the parents of the shooter who killed four students at Oxford High School in 2021, must stand trial for their alleged roles in the attack. The Crumbleys appear to be the first parents in America to be charged in a mass school shooting. [Detroit Free Press]
The company behind the controversial gunshot-detection system ShotSpotter has been quietly acquiring parts of Geolitica, the company formerly known as PredPol that produces “predictive policing” software. Both companies have faced questions about the efficacy and civil rights implications of their flagship products — and now, a new analysis shows that, for one police department, Geolitica’s predictions rarely lined up with reported crimes. [The Markup]
Lawyers for Hunter Biden, who pleaded not guilty to three federal firearms offenses this week, have repeatedly said they’ll defend him by raising a constitutional challenge to the law he’s charged under. That argument stands in stark contrast to the work that his father, President Joe Biden, has undertaken to strengthen gun safety laws. [Politico]
New York City last month abruptly canceled Next STEPS, a violence prevention and mentorship program for young people living in public housing developments. At a recent City Council committee meeting on criminal justice, young public housing residents demanded that the city restore the program. [Gothamist]
Over the past year, schools across the U.S. have been terrorized by an unprecedented wave of hoax shooting threats, part of a larger phenomenon known as “swatting,” where callers report nonexistent crimes in the hopes of provoking a police response. Many of the calls have followed distinct patterns — suggesting that the hoaxes might be part of a coordinated campaign. [The Washington Post]
Jason Benson-Green, 15, was a class clown. Family members said the high school sophomore reminded them of his grandfather: Jason was always the life of the party, always “making us laugh, dancing and showing us his moves,” said his cousin. Jason was shot and killed near his home in Brockton, Massachusetts, last week. He was a studious kid — he always did his homework, and received praise for his work in school — with aspirations to one day become an electrician. Jason “was never boring,” said his mother, and his passions ran the gamut: He was a talented artist, and could often be found rapping, singing, or working on anime drawings; he was interested in sports, especially basketball; he liked spending time in the kitchen, experimenting with recipes he found online. “He was a great kid,” said his mother. “Everyone loved him. Always knew how to make you laugh.”
America’s Youngest Victims: “In 2020, firearms became the No. 1 killer of children and teens in America, surpassing motor vehicle accidents, which had long been the leading cause of death among America’s youth. More than 1,300 children and teens have been killed by a gun so far this year. These are some of their stories.” [CNN]
“The cops weren’t in a drill. We weren’t in a drill. [It was] as real as you can get without an act of violence.”
— Cormac Lynn, superintendent of a Michigan school district, on one high school’s experience falling victim to a hoax shooting call, to The Washington Post