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Gun deaths: the numbers over the years

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International Business Times, February 2021

Criminologists say the shared burdens of 2020’s public health crisis invoked a spirit of community that deterred would-be mass murderers, but data shows there were more shooting deaths overall last year than in 2019. Data compiled by the Associated Press, USA Today, and Northeastern University found there were two public mass killings– defined by the agency as one that claimed four or more lives, not counting the shooter – last year.

The first was on Feb. 26, when a worker at a Milwaukee brewery killed five co-workers before turning the gun on himself. The other was on March 15, when a man killed four people in Springfield, Missouri, including a police officer, before taking his own life.

The public mass shooting numbers were considerably lower compared to 2019 and 2018 which saw nine and 10 shootings, respectively.

James Alan Fox, a criminologist at Northeastern University in Boston, told the AP that some of the social pressures that could trigger someone to commit mass murder were absent due to the pandemic.

“The thing about mass shooters is they tend to be people who feel that they are the victims of injustice. Well, lots of people now are suffering, not just them,” he explained. 

“It’s hard to say right now that your own plight is unique or unfair. It may not feel good, but there’s certainly reason for it. And it’s not because of something someone’s doing to you. It’s really the pandemic, which is a thing, not a person.”

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