US mass killings: Highest number in 2019 since the 1970s

In America this year there have been more mass killings, leading to the deaths of 211 people, than in the last 50 years.

There were more mass killings in America in 2019 than any year dating back to at least the 1970s, according to US reports.

A database compiled by The Associated Press, USA Today and Northeastern University shows there were 41 mass killings, in which 211 people died. Of these attacks, 33 were mass shootings.

A mass killing is defined as when four or more people are killed, excluding the perpetrator.

The 41 mass killings were the most in a single year since the database began tracking such events in 2006. Other research going back to the 1970s shows no other year with as many mass slayings.

The second-highest year was 2006, with 38.

The first mass killing of 2019 took place just days into the year when on 19 January a 42-year-old man used an ax to kill four family members, including his nine-month-old daughter. The attacker was shot dead by police.

This attack in Clackamas County, Oregon was one of 18 mass killings in which family members were murdered.

In August, at least nine people were shot dead outside a bar in Ohio, just hours after 20 people were killed in a shooting at a Walmart in Texas.

The report found that the majority of mass killings do not make national news in America.

The violence that occurs in a public place is more likely to make nationwide headlines, such as the massacres in El Paso and Odessa, Texas; Dayton, Ohio; Virginia Beach, Virginia; and Jersey City, New Jersey.

Although the motive for most cases is not known, the majority of killings involved people who knew each other, such as attacks on family members, friends or colleagues.

Although there were more mass killings, the overall number of victims – 211 – is lower than in 2017, when 224 died. That year saw America’s deadliest mass shooting in modern history when Stephen Paddock killed 59 people in Las Vegas.

The analysis also showed:

– California has some of the most strict gun laws in the country but had the most mass killings (eight)

– Nearly half of US states experienced a mass slaying, including one in Elkmont, Alabama, which has a population of fewer than 475 people

– Firearms were the most common weapon, being used in all but eight of the killings. Others included knives, axes, and arson

James Densley, a criminologist and professor at Metropolitan State University in Minnesota, said: “What makes this even more exceptional is that mass killings are going up at a time when general homicides, overall homicides, are going down.”

Mr. Densley added that crime goes in waves, with the 1970s and 1980s seeing a number of serial killers, the school shootings and child abductions of the 1990s and the early 2000s dominated by concerns over terrorism.

“This seems to be the age of mass shootings,” Mr. Densley said.

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