A new FBI report published on Wednesday, September 25th highlights that the mass shootings like the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary have more than doubled in the last 14 years. The agency released a report compiling data from 160 “active shooter incidents” since 2000, including the shooting rampage at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, that captured national headlines.
Details on mass shootings report
The new FBI report noted the rate of shooting incidents has increased from 6.4 per year from 2000 to 2006 to 16.4 per year from 2007 to 2013. Moreover, since 2000, 486 people have died and 557 have been wounded. The report only counted incidents involving a person who wanted to harm the general public, not incidents that involved drugs or gang violence.
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The FBI study also noted that almost half of all shootings take place at private businesses, with schools and universities accounting for more than 25% of mass shootings.
Given there are typically a lot of people in schools, these incidents frequently account for the large numbers of casualties. Of note, the single greatest loss of life occurred in an incident at Virginia Tech in 2007, when 32 innocent people were killed and dozens wounded.
The report did not go into the reasons for this increase in mass shootings over the last few years, but political analysts and social commentators have pointed to both the increased polarization of our society based on inequality and the increasing availability of high-powered weapons as factors.
“How do we prevent this?” Assistant Director James F. Yacone inquired rhetorically at a press conference Wednesday. “Are there behavioral indicators that were seen in these 160 incidents. Are there themes?”
The goal of creating a baseline study of such incidents like this is to learn what leads people to commit such acts and assist them in getting “off the pathway to violence,” Yacone said.
Katherine W. Schweit, an FBI expert on active shooter incidents, pointed out that part of the reason for the study was to help state and local police forces prepare for these kind of situations.
“Law enforcement needs to be ready, and they need to be thinking before they arrive to make sure they’re ready,” Ms. Schweit said. “Actions by law enforcement and actions by citizens could change the outcome.”