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US Mass public shootings since Columbine: victims per incident by race and ethnicity of the perpetrator

NCJ Number
Preventive Medicine Volume: 162 Dated: September 2022
Date Published
September 2022

This paper examines the severity of mass public shootings by race since Columbine, by race and/or ethnicity of the perpetrators; they discuss their research methodology, outcomes, and data gaps.


White individuals in the United States (U.S.) have historically had disproportionate access to firearms. The real-life availability of firearms, including those most lethal, may still be greater among White populations, manifesting in the number of victims in shootings. The authors compared the severity of U.S. mass public shootings since Columbine by race and/or ethnicity of the perpetrator using The Violence Project Database of Mass Shooters, assessing fatalities (minimum four), total victims, type, and legal status of guns used. They used data visualization and Quasi-Poisson regression of victims minus four – accounting for truncation at 4 fatalities – to assess fatality and total victim rates comparing Non-Hispanic (NH) White with NH Black shooters, using winsorization to account for outlier bias from the 2017 Las Vegas shooting. In 104 total mass public shootings until summer 2021, NH White shooters had higher median fatalities and total victims per incident. Confidence intervals of NH Black versus NH White fatalities rate ratios (RR) ranged from 0.17–1.15, and of total victim RRs from 0.15–1.04. White shooters were overrepresented in mass public shootings with the most victims, typically involving legally owned assault rifles. To better understand the consequences when firearms are readily available, including assault rifles, researchers need a database of all US gun violence. Their assessment of total victims beyond fatalities emphasizes the large number of U.S. gun violence survivors and the need to understand their experiences to capture the full impact of gun violence. Publisher Abstract Provided

Date Published: September 1, 2022