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Published 25 September 2014
Rampages doubled in the last seven years. There are now 87 gun deaths each day with nearly 200 injured.
A study by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) shows that mass shootings have occurred in the United States with increasing frequency over the past 14 years, with 486 people killed in 160 incidents.
The FBI report, released on Wednesday, found that over the past seven years, the so-called active-shooter incidents have more than doubled.
There was an average of 6.4 such shootings during the first seven years, but the number rose to an average of 16.4 a year from 2006 to 2013.
FBI Assistant Director James Yacone termed the escalation of violence as “troubling”.
Active shootings, which the report defines as incidents “not directly linked to gang violence or drugs” and “where police and citizens had the time to influence the outcome,” occurred most often in places of business, where 46 percent of the incidents occurred, followed by schools, where 24 percent were registered.
The deadliest rampages were the 2007 shooting at Virginia Tech University, where 32 people were killed, and the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, where 27 died excluding the gunman.
At Sandy Hook in the town of Newton, Connecticut, twenty children and six adult victims were fatally shot on December 14, 2012. Earlier that day, the twenty-year-old assailant Adam Lanza had killed his mother. According to press reports, Lanza suffered from a personality disorder, was on the antidepressant Prozac, and was fond of first-person shooter games.
FBI officials noted that many shooters had studied past incidents, particularly prominent ones like Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook or the 1999 attack at Columbine High School in Colorado, where two gunmen killed 12 students and a teacher.
“Many offenders look to past offenses, particularly notable ones such as Columbine and Virginia Tech and Sandy Hook, and they study and they research those attacks,” Andre Simons, an FBI supervisory special agent, told a briefing in Washington.
“They look back to these past offenses and they often find inspiration and they often seek to emulate or copycat those particular offenses. So the copycat phenomenon is real,” he said.
In 13 percent of the cases studied, unarmed bystanders or school personnel subdued the attacker until police could arrive.
Police shot and killed the attacker in 13 percent of the cases analyzed.
A full 40 percent of the shooters turned their guns on themselves. This was the case in the recent shooting in Birmingham, Alabama, where a man who had recently been fired from his job at a UPS distribution center shot and killed two supervisors at the site before taking his own life.
Every year, more than 30,000 people are shot and killed in the United States.
The US averages 87 gun deaths each day, with an average of 183 injured, according to the University of Chicago Crime Lab and the Centers for Disease Control.