Since the Las Vegas shooting massacre nearly three weeks ago, there has been speculation and reports in the mainstream media that such mass killing events are on the rise in recent years across the U.S. That is not true, according to new research. The study examined mass killing incidents--those in which at least four people were killed---across the U.S. between 2006 and 2016, and found there has been no spike. "We found that the distribution of these events was amazingly uniform, while at the same time they were very unpredictable," says Dr. Sheldon Jacobson of the University of Illinois, co-author of the study. "The data doesn't lie...the rate of these events just is not increasing, as is the perception given in the media."
The research found there were 323 mass killing events in the U.S. over the ten-year period, but they appear to be random and evenly distributed across the time frame. Among its other findings, guns were the most common weapon used in the killings, at about 75 percent of the time. Also, the most common type of mass murders are family killings, which are three times more likely than a public killing spree like the one in Las Vegas.
The study concludes that because of the random and unpredictable nature of these events, law enforcement needs to be trained well for rapid response. Beyond that, there is no easy way to predict or prevent a mass killing incident. "Although we have a steady rate of these events, they're neither increasing nor decreasing," says Dr. Jacobson. "We may have personal views about what occurred, but the data indicates that there has been no statistically measurable increase or decrease over the last decade."