Mass Killings in the US

USA Today has put together an interactive graphic of mass killing in the US since 2006. Mass killings—defined by the FBI as four or more victims, not including the killer—have occurred across the U.S. at the rate of about one every two weeks since 2006. Methods have included  smoke inhalation/burns, stabbing, and blunt force. However, by a huge margin, shooting is the prevalent means of mass killings.

These include family killings, public killings, killing during a robbery, and other unspecified reasons. From the map, there have been a total of 221 events with 1097 victims.

  • Shooting: 168 cases – 841 victims (76.5%)
  • Stabbing: 25 cases – 172 victims (15.5%)
  • Smoke inhalation/burns: 22 cases – 106 victims (9.5%)
  • Blunt Force: 14 cases – 62 victims (5.5%)

In comparison, over approximately the same time period, there have been 83,639 people murdered in the US. Of these, 46,313 (55%) have been killed by firearms; 8,967 (10%) by knives; 4,058 (5%) by fists, feet, etc; and 2918 (3.5%) by blunt objects.

In a separate category, justifiable homicide, defined by the FBI as the killing of a felon, during the commission of a felony, by a private citizen claimed 1571 lives, with 1268 (81%) involving firearms.

The US is unique in the western world with a homicide/100,000 rate 3 times that of  Canada; 5 times that of England and Wales; and 6 times that of Germany and New Zealand.

In addition, in the US, there is a known familial or neighbourhood connection between killer and victim in 55% of homicide, and a probable connection in may more. Like most types 0f violent crime, you are much more likely to be killed by someone you know than by a total stranger in a random act.

According to the numbers from the FBI, in the US at least, firearms are by far the most dangerous weapons used to end the lives of other people. The question is, what can be done about it?

Removing all firearms might help, but that is a totally impractical suggestion. Stiffer penalties for those who use guns during a crime, and those whose carelessness kills people might help. Coupled with that, end the war on drugs, and work towards more social equity. Those latter two would do much to end all types of violent crime, not just homicides.

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One Response to Mass Killings in the US

  1. Lance says:

    To refine your numbers just a bit: You say “Of these, 46,313 (55%) have been killed by firearms”. Of these, 93% were handguns.

    (For those readers who may think that laws banning “assault rifles” or any kind of long gun would solve the problem.)

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