Friday, December 4, 2015

The Mass Shootings Chart

The first time on January 9, 2011, next on December 15, 2012, I posted a chart of mass shootings on LaMarotte by decades beginning in the 1910s—thus a century of shootings in the United States. The first time I had to expend a lot of effort to build the series from multiple news sources—trying always to including only those that more than one source had actually mentioned. I labeled it a “rough count” for a reason. I’ve only included counts of shootings that involve more than four dead (except as explained below). Many recent lists include smaller numbers and therefore blur the line between “modern style” mass shootings and family killings (where, for instance, three people related people are murdered).

Herewith I show a version of that chart updated to include the San Bernardino shootings of this month. My source for the update is here. Today, halfway through the 2010s decade, we are showing 27 such shootings (versus 15 in the whole 2000s decade).  Since last publishing this chart, when the 2010s total stood at 16 events, 13 more mass shootings have been added.

A note concerning the chart. In preparing it, I had found virtually no press accounts for the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s but discovered the work of the Minnesota criminologist Grant Duwe and a chart, produced by Duwe, from which I took data for those “empty” decades; those decades are shaded in a different color. Duwe’s numbers show a higher incidence of mass killings than the press accounts, no doubt because Duwe counted all killings of more than four people, whatever the context, whereas the news accounts concentrate on public events that go beyond family (or crime-family) killings.

Ours are interesting times. During a visit to a near-by Meijers Grocery store—a big chain around here—I saw a sheriff’s sedan parked by one of the entrances and wondered if a) it was the first arrival at a first-ever grocery-chain shooting; b) it had been dispatched to guard the place; or c) it was just a sheriff’s deputy picking up a half-gallon of milk on his way home. Later, having picked up my Evening Primrose Oil, I saw the deputy at one end of the store assuring a woman. She seemed in some state of agitation. Was I just imagining her inner condition? Or had she seen something suspicious….

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