Washington Post, May 2022
Democrats and Republicans will forever argue about the effectiveness of gun laws to prevent mass shootings. But what does the latest academic research show? The short answer is that many proposed laws probably would not have much impact on curbing the mass shootings that dominate the news. But they could lessen their severity, and might also bring down overall gun violence.
Despite their notoriety, mass shootings—as defined by criminologists—generally do not happen often enough for detailed data analysis. Moreover, there are at least eight databases of mass shootings, including one maintained by The Washington Post, with different definitions and parameters. An upcoming paper for the Justice Department, written by a team led by James Alan Fox of Northeastern University, Grant Duwe of the Minnesota Department of Corrections and Michael Rocque of Bates College, attempts to craft a common definition: A mass public shooting is any event in which four or more individuals, not including the assailant(s), were killed by gunfire in a public setting within a 24-hour period. Mass shootings associated with criminal activity are excluded.