Mass Shooting Research Part 2 & Rampage Events

In the previous post, I explored Mother Jones’ data on mass shooting events in the U.S. What they collected was impressive in depth, but only seems to cover a small subset of violence that falls under the “mass shooting” definition (four or more shot and/or killed in a single event [incident], at the same general time and location, not including the shooter). I’m only speculating, but it seems like these might be only events receiving significant media coverage.

As I mentioned previously, gunviolencearchive.org also maintains data on mass shootings. Their publicly available spreadsheets only go back a few years, and only document location and number of victims, but they list 1146 events from January 2014 to June 2017 compared to 23 in Mother Jones’ data during the same time period. As I described in the first post on this topic, the raw data is from the indicated source; exploitation, processing, and analysis (including graphs) were all done by the writer.

MS Events gunviolencearchive

Table 1. Mass Shooting Events per Year, from gunviolencearchives.org Data

MS Victims1 gunviolencearchive

Table 2. Mass Shooting Victims per Year, from gunviolencearchives.org Data

Aside from seeing how high recent raw numbers are, there isn’t much we can conclude from this data. The numbers are certainly higher, and are very concerning, but we would need more years of data, or other facts from these shootings, to draw further conclusions. Since location is included, at some point in the near future, I’m going to compare numbers by state weighted to adjust for population. I already have the census data to use, I just need to whip up some pivots.

During my research, I also found similar events on Wikipedia. Somewhat surprisingly, they are not categorized as “mass shootings” and instead use the designation of “rampage events.” An interesting aspect of these rampage events is that they include weapons other than firearms, such as knives, explosives, and others. The definition for rampage events, as indicated on Wikipedia:

A rampage involves the (attempted) killing of multiple persons least partly in public space by a single physically present perpetrator using (potentially) deadly weapons in a single event without any cooling-off period.

This list should contain every case with at least one of the following features:
1. Rampage killings with 6 or more dead
2. Rampage killings with at least 4 people killed and least ten victims overall (dead plus injured)
3. Rampage killings with at least 2 people killed and least 12 victims overall (dead plus injured)
4. An incidence of rampage killing shall not be included in this list if it does not include at least two people killed.
5. In all cases the perpetrator is not counted among those killed or injured.

A brutal thing to be so specific about, but these lists do appear to be stringent about what they include. Because of the significant differences in definition, the Wikipedia rampage lists are difficult to compare with the mass shooting lists. Overall though, glancing at the event counts between 1982 and 2017, I don’t see the same marked increased in recent years seen in the Mother Jones mass shooting data.

Rampage Events

Table 3. Rampage Events per Year, from Wikipedia Data

Rampage Victims

Table 4. Rampage Event Victims by Year, from Wikipedia Data

Rampage Weapon Types

Table 5. Weapon Types Used in Rampage Events, from Wikipedia Data

Rampage Categories

Table 6. Rampage Event Categories/Venues, from Wikipedia Data.

I found it interesting that the rampage events since 1982 don’t seem to be more frequent in recent years, which is quite different from mass shooting events. Strangely, the victim counts in rampage events are different; these have increased noticeably over the last few years. Normally, I’d jump right in and speculate, but I really have no real theory here. It was not surprising that most of these rampage events involved a firearm.

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