How many people must be killed or injured in order for an event to constitute a ‘mass shooting’? Congress defines the term ‘mass killings’ as, “the term ‘mass killings’ means 3 or more killings in a single incident.” Some balk at this definition, contending that the threshold is too low. You need more than three victims in order for such a designation to make sense. Note that we immediately moved from mass killings to mass shootings, because gun violence is just that common in America.
Perhaps with more data on gun violence in American society we could have a more reasonable definition. This raises another contentious issue in this debate, how do we track the number of shootings? Who is the authority on this data? You might think that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention should have a significant role in monitoring gun violence since many people consider this a public health issue. After all, their motto is “CDC 24/7. Saving lives. Protecting people.” Lest ye forget, this is America:
In 1996, the Republican-majority Congress threatened to strip funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention unless it stopped funding research into firearm injuries and deaths. The National Rifle Association accused the CDC of promoting gun control. As a result, the CDC stopped funding gun-control research — which had a chilling effect far beyond the agency, drying up money for almost all public health studies of the issue nationwide. (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2…)
This is known as the Dickey Amendment and it too has become a contentious issue in the national debate about gun control. Fortunately, we can table this issue and proceed with our forecasting.
For the purposes of this question we will consider mass shootings with 20 casualties. By casualty we are referring to an individual that is killed or injured during the shooting (and yes, this includes the shooter). This makes for a more interesting question. Note that the recent Jacksonville shooting would not meet the threshold set forth here.
Mass shootings, as defined earlier, have become a commonplace event in this American life. The FBI provides reliable data about ‘active shooters’. According to the FBI, the US endured 20 mass killings in 2016 and 2017. Mass shooting involving more than 20 casualties are rarer. Thus far, we have only had one such event in 2018. The Stoneman Douglas High School shooting claimed 17 lives and included 17 injuries.
In 2017, we had two such events. The Las Vegas Massacre in Las Vegas on October 1, 2017 in which 58 people were killed and 289 wounded. Also, the Sutherland Springs church shooting on November 5, 2017 in which 27 people were killed (including the shooter and an unborn child) and 20 wounded.
Despite the previously mentioned controversy concerning obtaining reliable data about gun violence once we increase the threshold to include 20 casualties it becomes readily apparent how we will resolve our question. A mass shooting with 20 or more casualties will be all over every media site in the hours following such a horrific event. (Question resolves as affirmative if a credible news agency reports that a mass shooting, with 20 casualties) occurred in the United States of America. Depressingly, we all know that another mass shooting will occur, it is simply a matter of when.
Closes and resolves retroactively to one day prior to the event should one occur.