Sunday night’s mass shooting in Las Vegas — in which a lone gunman killed at least 58 victims and wounded 515 more — was the 273rd mass shooting in the U.S. this year, according to a new report.
According to the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive, an organization that keeps track of data related to gun violence, mass shootings have left more than 1,500 people injured and more than 300 dead so far in 2017.
Police have identified 64-year-old Stephen Paddock as the shooter who opened fire from his 32nd floor room at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino just after 10 P.M. local time on Sunday. A SWAT team found Paddock dead in his hotel room, and police say they believed that he committed suicide.
The event has been labeled the deadliest mass shooting in recent U.S. history — at least, so far.
What qualifies an incident as a mass shooting depends on who is doing the counting. There are mass murders and mass killings, active shooters and serial killers, mass shootings and mass public shootings.
Because the Gun Violence Archive, like the crowd-sourced Mass Shooting Tracker, includes shootings involving people who were injured as well as fatalities, the number of mass shootings is higher than many other sources.
Mark Bryant, who runs the Gun Violence Archive along with about 20 paid researchers and staffers, told CBS News that by October 2 of last year there had been 292 mass shootings — more than in 2017 — but that the Las Vegas shooting means that the injury totals for this year will surpass those last year.
For example, the magazine Mother Jones specifies that to qualify as a mass shootings four or more victims must be killed in a public place, which results in a lower total number of incidents.
In 2014, the FBI defined “mass killing” as an incident with three or more fatalities as part of a report discussing active shooters, who they describe as “an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area.”
Whatever the methodology, experts agree that mass shootings are on the rise. An FBI study of active shooter incidents between 2000 and 2013 concluded that “active shooter incidents are becoming more frequent.”
A Harvard study that defined a mass shooting as an incident “in which the shooter and the victims generally were unrelated and unknown to each other, and in which the shooter murdered four or more people,” found that the rate of mass shootings has tripled since 2011.
Bryant also said that mass shootings can happen anywhere, in any community.
The second deadliest mass shooting in the U.S. took place on June 12, 2016, when Omar Mateen opened fire at a nightclub in Orlando, Florida, killing 49 people and wounding 58 others.
Data also shows that while mass shootings make headline news, they represent only a small fraction of the estimated 33,000 gun deaths in the U.S. each year.
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Main photo: Police on the scene near Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas [ABC 10 News / YouTube (screenshot)]