Many mass shooters have one thing common: A history of domestic violence
Confusion over what constitutes a mass shooting is likely to continue as the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other law enforcement agencies have no official definition.
For its analysis of the shooting of a GOP baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia, The Washington Post used a pro-gun control definition of mass shootings in order to include the recent Alexandria attack.
GVA’S definition of a mass shooting is, “FOUR or more shot and/or killed in a single event [incident], at the same general time and location not including the shooter”.
Though the Federal Bureau of Investigation does not have an official definition for mass shootings, it has studied “active shooter incidents” that involve “an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area”.
The same was true of the gunman who killed 49 people at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando past year.
Using the Gun Violence Archive’s definition, the number of mass shootings has been ticking upward in recent years: through June 14, there were 100 mass shootings in 2014, 135 in 2015, 142 last year, and 154 this year.
That’s an average of 1.3 mass shootings a month.
What if you didn’t rule out motive and just considered the casualty count?
However, the Gun Violence Archive counts any shooting attack where four or more people are injured as a mass shooting. Over the past several years, there have been a slew of mass shooters who’ve been revealed as domestic abusers (also, it must be noted, mass shootings are overwhelmingly and nearly entirely committed by men).
Whatever definition you consider, the instances are too depressingly frequent. This is a looser standard than the Federal Bureau of Investigation standard for mass murder which they describe as “a number of murders (four or more) occurring during the same incident, with no distinctive time period between the murders”. Put another way: While the United States has 5% of the world’s population, it had 31% of all public mass shootings. Under slightly different metrics, the number of US mass shootings could be even higher. This is according to a study previous year that used the Congressional Research Service definition of “mass shooting”.