You could be forgiven for believing that more mass shootings are happening now than have occurred in the past. In actuality, there aren’t more mass shootings occurring, but rather, the mass shooting events that do happen are becoming more deadly.
Politico offered this assessment last month, pointing out that mass shootings (which they define as four or more casualties in the same shooting event) are about as numerous today as they were in the 1980s and 1990s. But while the number of mass shootings didn’t necessarily change, the shooting events that did happen in the past decade were markedly more deadly than they were 20 or 30 years ago.
Eighteen of the worst mass shootings in modern times (since 1949) have occurred in the past 10 years alone. Two of the top five worst mass shootings have happened in the past 36 days.
The shooting that happened this past Sunday in Sutherland Springs, Texas, resulted in the deaths of at least 26 individuals, many of them children. If that number remains at 26, it would count as the fifth-worst mass shooting event in the United States.
The absolute worst mass shooting event of the modern era occurred in October of this year, when a shooter armed with an arsenal of weapons and modifiers pointed his weapons from his hotel toward concertgoers at a music festival in Las Vegas. Fifty-eight individuals died and hundreds more were injured in that horrific event.
Of the five worst mass shootings in modern U.S. history, four of them have occurred in just the past five years. They include the Harvest Music Festival in Las Vegas (2017); the Pulse Night Club shooting in Orlando (2016); the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School (2012); and the shooting at Sutherland Springs this past weekend.
Interestingly, none of the top 10 mass shooting events with the highest casualty counts occurred during the timeframe that the Assault Weapons Ban was in place. The ban lasted from 1994 to 2004.
Perhaps lawmakers should revisit the ban in the wake of this latest tragedy and others like it. It is frankly un-American to stand back and do nothing, like we’ve done for several years now. This isn’t too big of a challenge to tackle — although it may be too big of a campaign donation from the gun lobby to ignore for some lawmakers.
Those who adamantly stand opposed to a new assault weapons ban would do well to know this history — and to see that doing nothing could possibly result in deadlier outcomes than we’ve witnessed so far. For many of their constituents, that’s an inaction that is downright unforgivable.