In the past year there has been what appears to be a constant drumbeat, seemingly almost weekly and sometimes daily, of reports of mass shootings and deaths by firearms throughout the United States. There are also statistics. A recent study reported by the BBC indicates there has been a steady increase by year in the number of gun deaths in the U.S. between 2014 and 2021 with the exception of a small dip in 2020. Reliable published statistics for 2022 have been difficult to locate due to the fact that 2022 is the current year but according to the Gun Violence Archive there have been 225 mass shootings, 14 mass murders, and 19,350 total number of gun violence deaths (all causes) that have occurred as of June 11, 2022.
While there has long been an ebb and flow of general concerns regarding gun violence and mass shootings in America, the high level of recent reporting mentioned earlier raises the question: Has gun violence and particularly mass shootings in the United States increased to the point where it can now be reasonably asserted that this issue has now become a crisis in America?
The Congressional Research Service defines mass shootings as “multiple firearm homicide incidents involving four or more victims at one or more locations close to one another”. The FBI definition is essentially the same but in the United States there are several different, but common, other definitions of mass shootings. For a more extended discussion see Richard Berk’s analysis of this topic, What is Mass Shooting? What Can Be Done?, on the University of Pennsylvania, Department of Criminology website.