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Today, we are taking a look at one of the most tragic issues facing American society today: mass shootings. The shooting that occurred last week at Umpqua Community College is the latest instance of a problem that is truly confounding the U.S. TestTube News, DNews, and Seeker Daily will all be covering the issue today, each bringing a bit of perspective to some of the issues surrounding guns in the U.S.
Here, we take a look at the term itself: mass shooting. While these tragedies have become far too routine and there may be a collective understanding of what a "mass shooting" is, the technical definition is not set in stone. The FBI, for instance, defines a "mass murder" as an incident in which four or more murders occur. This includes gang altercations, armed robberies, and domestic altercations. By this metric, there have been over 377 mass shootings in 2014 alone. Other reports limit the number of mass shootings to the types of events seen in Roseburg, Aurora, Newtown, Santa Barbara, Charleston, etc. Using this definition, there have been about 72 mass shootings in the past 30 years.
What parallels do these kinds of tragedies have in common? Broadly speaking, gun violence is much more common in areas where access to guns is easier. A Harvard study found that areas with higher concentrations of guns have a higher rate of homicides. Comparing the shooters behind these attacks reveals some patterns as well. The assailants are often relatively young, white men who have shown troubling signs of anti-social behavior. In most cases, they also purchased their guns entirely through legal means. Gun advocates often say that improved mental health services are the key to preventing these attacks. While that may be true, it's only one part of the puzzle. Ultimately, there will be no progress to diminishing these mass attacks until the issue moves beyond such stringently political lines.
America's gun problem, explained
"No other developed country in the world has nearly the same rate of gun violence as does America. The US has nearly six times the number of gun homicides as Canada, more than seven times as Sweden, and nearly 16 times as Germany, according to UN data compiled by the Guardian."
What Exactly Is a Mass Shooting?
"Broadly speaking, the term refers to an incident involving multiple victims of gun violence. But there is no official set of criteria or definition for a mass shooting, according to criminology experts and FBI officials who have spoken with Mother Jones."
MASS SHOOTINGS IN 2014
"Cited list of known mass shootings"
Seven facts about America's mental health-care system
"The mental health-care system in the United States is a multibillion-dollar industry that is still not big enough to serve all those who need it."