The Lansing Journal has partnered with Stacker.com to provide in-depth features that may be of interest to our readers.
By Lauren Liebhaber
No official, universal definition of what constitutes a mass shooting currently exists. Groups define it differently based on the number of victims, whether they are killed or injured, whether the shooting occurs in a public or private space, and whether the shooter targets specific victims. The Gun Violence Archive defines it as an event in which at least four people were killed or injured.
The lack of a consistent definition creates opportunities for people to interpret the data differently, making it difficult for lawmakers to establish a set of agreed-upon facts upon which to address the issue of gun violence.
For example, using a much narrower definition of a mass shooting, security specialists who drafted a 2013 congressional report identified just 78 mass shooting events between 1983 and 2012. This figure starkly contrasts with the GVA’s findings for 2014, which determined 273 mass shootings had occurred that year alone.
As to more recent figures, the Gun Violence Archive recorded 647 mass shootings in the U.S. in 2022. Compared to this time last year, mass shootings in 2023 are outpacing last year’s rate. Stacker cited data from the Gun Violence Archive to visualize the scope of mass shootings thus far in 2023. Data is as of May 8, 2023.
Mass shootings have happened in both gun-friendly states and stricter ones
Mass shootings have happened in gun-friendly states — and some stricter ones.
Several of the states where mass shootings have occurred this year are those that don’t require gun owners to obtain permits to carry concealed weapons.
In Alabama, for example — where the April 15 Dadeville incident became the largest mass shooting of 2023 — any person 19 or older may carry a handgun in the state without a permit, background check, or safety training unless prohibited by state or federal law. In 2021, a new law in Texas made it legal for most people 21 or over to carry a handgun, openly or concealed, without a permit.
However, some of the most high-profile mass shootings of this year, like those in Half Moon Bay and Monterey Park, California, and Washington D.C., happened in states with stricter gun laws.
Gun violence in the U.S. is a complex problem with many contributing factors beyond state laws; however, a 2022 study from Everytown for Gun Safety comparing state laws to rates of gun violence shows a correlation between the two. States with the most restrictions on gun users also have the lowest rates of gun-related deaths, while states with fewer regulations have a higher death rate from guns.
At 120 firearms per 100 residents, the U.S. is the only country in the world with more civilian-owned guns than people, according to the 2018 Small Arms Survey.
Mass shootings take place in nearly every type of public and private space
This year, shooters have attacked people at schools, cultural celebrations, gas stations, private residences, downtowns, highways, workplaces, birthday parties, and most recently, shopping malls.
The deadliest single event to date remains the Jan 21. shooting in Monterey Park, California, where a gunman killed 12 people and wounded nine others at a dance hall in an Asian American community during a Lunar New Year celebration.
Eleven mass shooting incidents occurred between May 5 and May 7 — the most of any weekend in 2023. On May 6, a gunman opened fire at an outlet mall in Allen, Texas, killing eight people and injuring seven others.
My question would be is there some correlation or relationship between this article which shows a picture titled “Ilinois State Police vehicle seen in Lansing in 2021” and the title of the article paraphrased “Mass shootings in U.S in 2023”? The article maybe relevant, but I think the picture and its title not so much.
Thanks for your comment, Bill. Your point is well taken. I’ve changed some settings so that the featured image doesn’t appear on the article itself. Typically, we try to use our own photography as much as we can, and police lights are generally relevant to this story. But you’re right to point out that that’s about where the relevancy ends, and with no direct mention of Illinois in the story itself, the photo could be misleading. Thanks for your close reading!
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