Mass shootings: a breakdown
The recent shootings in California have reenergized national debate on the issue of gun control.
Municipal codes and enforcement vary widely throughout the US, but, in a 2013 study, Mayors Against Illegal Guns analyzed mass gun violence in America to get a better handle on the problem, as a whole. They found that from January 2009 to September 2013, 93 mass shootings – almost two per month – have occurred in 35 states.
Mass shootings are defined as any incident where at least four people were killed with a firearm. According to the report, the group’s analysis of the events “reveal a different portrait of mass shootings in America than conventional wisdom might suggest.”
Here are some of the report’s findings, in brief:
Mass shootings represent a relatively small share of total U.S. firearm homicides. Less than 1 percent of gun murder victims recorded by the FBI in 2010 were killed in incidents with four or more victims. By contrast, most firearm homicides occur in the home, and are perpetrated by someone the victim knows.
Assault weapons or high-capacity magazines were used in 15 percent of mass-shootings. When used, these resulted in an average of 14.4 total people shot, a 151 percent increase in victims over other mass shooting incidents where conventional weapons were used. According to data published May 31 in The Washington Post, since 1984, mass killers have utilized 22 shotguns, 23 revolvers, 29 rifles and 77 semiautomatic handguns. Of those, more than 75 percent had been legally purchased.
Most mass killing (67 percent) incidents took place in private residences. Of the 31 incidents in public spaces, 17 took place where concealed weapons could be lawfully carried. No more than 14 of the shootings took place entirely in public spaces that were designated “gun-free zones.”
Of the 93 shootings, 4 percent occurred at the shooter’s current or former workplace. 4 percent took place in schools, including primary, secondary and college campuses.
No evidence suggested any of the shooters were prohibited from possessing firearms by federal law due to metal health reasons. However, in 10 of the 93 incidents up to September 2013, evidence of mental health concerns had been brought to the attention of a medical practitioner, school official or legal authority prior to the shooting.
But whether these shooting occur in public or in the home, Mayors Against Illegal Guns feels loopholes in gun laws have contributed to the rise in mass public shootings. “Not one more person should die because of our broken gun laws… not one more politician should put the gun lobby ahead of the lives of Americans. Our elected leaders need to know that we will no longer tolerate inaction,” John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety, a coalition including Mayors Against Illegal Guns, said in a statement.
Mayors Against Illegal Guns has not been devoid of opposition or support.
The National Rifle Association has issued outspoken campaigns against Mayors Against Illegal Guns. The NRA's lobby, Institute for Legislative Action (ILA), distributed a mass mailing to its members in 2009 encouraging members to pressure mayors to resign from Mayors Against Illegal Guns. From the ILA website: "Michael Bloomberg of New York City and Thomas Menino of Boston, two of the most virulently anti-gun politicians in America, founded “Mayors Against Illegal Guns” (MAIG) in 2006. Despite the claims of some, they are still the driving force behind the group. But do not be fooled by the name: This organization would be better named "Mayors Against All Guns."
Mayors Against Illegal Guns' legislative initiatives include seeking repeal of the 2003 Tihart Amendment, which prohibits the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) from releasing information from its firearm trace database to anyone other than a law enforcement agency or prosecutor in connection with a specific criminal investigation. Additionally, Mayors Against Illegal Guns supports legislation for mandatory background checks and bills of sale for any firearms sold in the US. Mayors Against Illegal Guns also partners with Walmart, the largest retailer of firearms in the U.S., which, in 2008, voluntarily adopted a number of new sales practices at the behest of Mayors Against Illegal Guns to "help ensure that guns do not fall into the wrong hands." Walmart Senior Vice President J.P. Suarez stated that Walmart signed the 10-point code of the "Responsible Firearms Retailer Partnership" to help the corporation "fine tune the things we're already doing and further strengthen our standards." He added, "We hope other retailers will join us in adopting the code."
Read the full report here.