Mass Shootings in the United States: 2009-2016

Apr 1, 2017

To better assess the reality of mass shootings in the United States—and to identify policies which could prevent them from occurring in the first place— Everytown analyzed every mass shooting we were able to identify in the United States from 2009-2016. This analysis uncovered the following findings:

  • From 2009-2016 in the U.S., there have been 156 mass shootings — incidents in which four or more people were shot and killed, not including the shooter. These incidents resulted in 1,187 victims shot: 848 people were shot and killed, and 339 people were shot and injured. In addition, 66 perpetrators killed themselves after a mass shooting, and another 17 perpetrators were shot and killed by responding law enforcement.
  • The majority of mass shootings— 54 percent of cases—were related to domestic or family violence.
  • Mass shootings significantly impacted children: 25 percent of mass shooting fatalities (211) were children. This is primarily driven by mass shootings related to domestic or family violence, in which over 40 percent of fatalities were children.
  • In nearly half of the shootings— 42 percent of cases—the shooter exhibited warning signs before the shooting indicating that they posed a danger to themselves or others. These red flags included acts, attempted acts, or threats of violence towards oneself or others; violations of protective orders; or evidence of ongoing substance abuse.
  • More than one-third of the shootings— 34 percent—involved a shooter who was prohibited from possessing firearms.
  • Only ten percent of incidents took place in "gun-free zones" , or areas where civilians are prohibited from carrying firearms and there is not a regular armed law enforcement presence (armed security guards, for example). The vast majority of incidents—63 percent—took place entirely in private homes.

These findings reaffirm the value of gun violence prevention policies that address the circumstances underlying mass shootings: strong domestic violence laws that keep guns away from abusers, mechanisms that allow for the temporary removal of guns from individuals who have exhibited dangerous recent behavior, and background checks on all firearm sales to prevent people who are prohibited from having guns from buying them.

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