With many laws and policies that set this country as "the land of the free and the home of the brave", there is one law that has been controversial for decades, and that is the second amendment which allows citizens the right to bear arms. This law has been in existence since the beginning of civilized America; enacted in 1791.

This law has grown more and more controversial in recent years, since America has continuously faced an epidemic of mass shootings, placing gun control has been placed on the table. Many of these mass casualties have resulted from the ‘average Joe,’ mostly young men, purchasing automatic assault rifles, and using them to kill the innocent.

The term "mass shooting" often gets used loosely when referring to cases of domestic violence and altercations that get out of hand. While it is important to acknowledge the threat of mass shootings, it also important to be prepared for any type of gun play, and to know the difference ways to protect yourself from either.

Mass Shootings vs Individual Incidents

How can you properly differentiate between "mass shooting" and "individual incidents?" There have been several definitions put forward to set the two apart.

The definition of a Mass Shooting is when four or more people, not including the shooter, is shot (whether dead or injured) in a single incident, at the same general time, and in the same general location.

A mass shooting is often the result of:

  • Mental illness
  • Disgruntlement in various aspects of the shooter's life
  • Vengeance or Payback
  • Lover's Quarrel

Our article on how to protect yourself against an active shooter gives insight into how you can survive this terrible ordeal.

The definition of an individual incident is an event where generally only one specific targeted person is shot. However, shootings involving 3 people or less are still considered individual incidents. Normally a boss, a family member, or precise enemy.

The motivation of a single incident shooter is slightly different. A good illustration is a scorned person exacting revenge on the person or people that they feel are responsible. For example, an individual whose partner was unfaithful or a disgruntled employee looking to kill the CEO.

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What may be Causing this Rise in Gun Violence?

It is hard to pinpoint exactly what is causing the number of homicides, death toll, and even suicide attempts relating to gun violence to double in recent years. But there are a lot of events and situations that contribute to multiple theories like:

Civil Unrest

The percentage of gun violence in recent times (25% increase) is oftentimes compared to the increase in gun violence that took place in the 1960s. Like the present day, the 1960’s saw an intense civil unrest as a majority of the world was looking to increase the equality among races.

2020 saw the largest rise in civil unrest since the 60’s. After the so called “self-defense” killing of Trayvon Martin in 2012, communities across the nation were already fighting for more equality for people of color. Then, in March of 2020, the police led killings of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd fully sparked the Black Lives Matter movement. Only this time it got much more violent...shootings skyrocketed in response.

Along with the BLM movement, a number of other movements like gender equality, LGBTQ+, etc. all contribute to the level of our countries civil unrest.

Recurrent 'Normal' Reasons

These reasons are far from being ‘normal’, instead they are simply more personal-related reasons. Many mass shooters have thought it ok to wreak havoc in their communities because of personal vendettas or troubles in their personal lives, killing innocent people who have nothing to do with their hatred.

Especially in elementary and high schools. Most school shooters have reported alleged cases of bullying or disgruntlement and dissatisfaction within the school system, causing them to think it is okay to come to school with an automatic weapon. The shooter then takes revenge on the students and faculty, often innocent school members.

Their reasons for shooting at unsuspecting parties and harming these innocent people are not normally related to politics or a "bigger picture," but rather personal issues like personal vendettas, disgruntled employees, lovers’ quarrels, bullies, and more.

The Continual Switch of Power in the White House

The battle for office has consistently been an issue for the US, and it heightens every 4 years when the election comes around. The fight between Democrats and Republicans raises tensions in the country. Each party has their own supporters and when coupled with the current (2024) level of civil unrest, the party line has one of the highest levels of tension it has ever experienced.

Election results aside, there is always a rise in American gun sales during an election year, especially when the potential of a party switch is a real possibility. Whether it's because of fear of the infringement of rights to bear arms or to spite those in power, this trend has been a consistent one in US history.

The Covid-19 Pandemic

This pandemic caused tempers to rise because of the restrictions many people had spent their entire lives without. Due to the high contagiousness of Covid-19 the government imposed regulations and world-wide lockdowns. This angered many and made the lives of so many less fulfilling.

The high unemployment rate as a direct effect did not help either. People were desperate for food, for money, for payback. Admittedly, due to the months of lockdown, there were fewer reported cases of mass shootings early in the year, although individual incidents relating to gun violence were still at record highs.

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Ways to Be Aware of Your Surroundings

To prevent harm in a world where shooting incidents can occur unexpectedly, it is essential to cultivate situational awareness:

Stay Alert: Pay attention to your environment, avoid distractions, and limit the use of headphones or electronic devices while walking in public spaces.

Trust Your Instincts: If a situation feels uncomfortable or suspicious, trust your gut feeling. It's better to be cautious and report anything suspicious to the authorities.

Plan Escape Routes: When in unfamiliar places, mentally map potential exit routes, such as fire exits or alternative doors.

Stay Informed: Be aware of local news and developments in your area, especially regarding public safety concerns.

Active Shooter Preparedness: Familiarize yourself with the "Run, Hide, Fight" protocol in case you find yourself in an active shooter situation. Running away from the threat, hiding in a secure place, and fighting back as a last resort can save lives.

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Important statistics

There is statistical evidence that Mass shootings are on the rise, as well are individual incident shootings, especially, due to the current state (2020-2024) of our economy. In our history, it has been well documented that tough and uncertain times directly correlates to rises in gun violence.

  • In 2019, 73% of murder cases were results of gun-related crimes.
  • The United States is ranked number one in the world where the majority of the population owns guns.
  • In 2021, the United States recorded a total of 698 mass shootings with 705 deaths and almost 3,000 injuries, 3 of which took place at a school.
  • About 1.4 million people died as a result of gun-based violence between 1993-2011.

8 worst states for gun violence in 2021

Illinois (86 mass shootings)

Illinois is number one in the worst places to be as a result of gun-based violence. Almost 1400 people died in Illinois in 2019 as a result of gun violence. That is an average of about four deaths per day. 80% of homicides in 2019 were by gun violence. And the majority of the victims were African American men.

Texas (57 mass shootings)

Gun violence costs Texas 16.6 billion dollars in damages every year. 73% of veterans suicide were by guns in 2018. Texas women are more likely to get shot than women from any other state. 179 women were killed by an intimate partner and 53% of those deaths were by individual incidents including a firearm.

California (45 mass shootings)

In 2020, there was a disturbing increase in gun violence in the state of California. In California 500 homicides resulted from gun-related violence. Guns were also used in cases of aggravated assault and other violent acts.

This increase of gun violence during the pandemic was completely unexpected and prompted the Californian government to take action on the situation.

New York (38 mass shootings)

2020 saw a similar number of mass shootings for this state. New York saw a spike in violence in 2020 and from the numbers it has remained consistent in 2021. Both years showing an increase from pre-pandemic levels. In New York City, alone, they saw over 1800 shooting victims in 2021.

Pennsylvania (33 mass shootings)

The Pennsylvanian people are consistent, 2020 saw mass shootings in the 30’s as well. An average of 1,600 Pennsylvanians die each year and another 3,000 are injured by guns. In 2020 the PA Police ran over 1.4 million background checks for gun purchases, most of them being approved within minutes.

Florida, Ohio, & Louisiana (tie at 30 mass shootings each)

Florida, Ohio, and Louisiana tie for 6th place with 30 mass shootings in 2021. Over 1500 residents of Ohio died due to gun-related incidents in 2019.  In Florida, an average of 8 people die a day due to bullet wounds. Louisiana saw over 1,000 deaths as a direct result of gun-related crimes in 2019.