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By FBI's Definition, Mass Shooting Incidents Declined Last Year

Mass shootings in the U.S. as tallied by the FBI declined last year even as the number of victims injured in such shootings rose, said a report released Wednesday tracking how often random gunfire erupts in crowded places. The FBI counted 50 such shootings in 2022, a decrease from the 61 incidents recorded in 2021. At the same time, the bloodshed from those attacks rose — 313 casualties last year, including 100 deaths, compared with 243, including 103 deaths, in 2021, reports the Washington Post. There is no widely accepted definition of a mass shooting; some count based on a minimum number of dead victims, or a minimum number of overall victims. Another more expansive metric also measured a decline in incidents from 2021 to 2022. The Gun Violence Archive, which defines a mass shooting as when four or more people are shot or killed, not including the shooter, counted 646 such events last year and 690 the year before.


The FBI defines a mass shooting as when one or more people engage in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated area. The bureau’s definition excludes shootings motivated by gang violence, drug violence, domestic disputes or hostage situations, or resulting from another criminal act, like a bank robbery. By the FBI’s yardstick, a mass shooting happened in the U.S. last year nearly once a week. Last year marked the first time in five years that the number of incidents declined. The overall trend has been toward more such shootings — both 2018 and 2019 saw 30 mass shootings apiece. The shootings came most frequently in May, with nine, including the massacre at an elementary school in Uvalde, Tex., that killed 19 children and two adults, and a grocery store shooting in Buffalo, where 10 were killed. Sunday was also the deadliest day — mass shootings happened 12 times on Sundays and nine times on Mondays, while they were less common on Thursdays and Fridays. The highest-casualty mass shooting last year came on the Fourth of July, when a gunman opened fire on a parade in Highland Park, Ill., wounding 48 and killing seven. In about half of the 2022 incidents described in the report, the shooter had a prior connection to the place where he opened fire. They sometimes were a current or former employee, sometimes a resident or former student or patient. The type of weapon used was roughly even split, with 29 handguns used and 26 rifles. Of the 50 shooters, 47 were male.

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