The shootings in Maine that have killed at least 18 people are a sign of the lethality of the weapons that are easily available, says James Alan Fox, a Northeastern professor who has been studying mass killings and serial murders for more than 40 years. The victims were killed in Lewiston, Maine, on Wednesday night at a bowling alley and a bar several miles apart. Images from the bowling alley show a man carrying a high-powered, assault-style rifle.
Fox says the Lewiston case is the 10th mass killing in a public setting this year, which he cites as a U.S. record. There have been 568 mass killings in the U.S. since 2006 that have claimed 2,962 lives, according to the Associated Press/USA TODAY/Northeastern University Mass Killings Database, the longest-running and most extensive data source on the subject, which is maintained by Fox.
A mass killing is defined as an event that results in four or more deaths. “Let’s understand that these events still are rare in a population of more than 330 million people,” says Fox, the Lipman Family Professor of Criminology, Law, and Public Policy at Northeastern. “What has changed is the severity of these crimes.”