Mass Shooting Research Part 3; State Comparisons, GVA Data

I mentioned in a previous article on this topic that I also wanted to explore the state-by-state numbers, but needed to finish processing data from Census.gov. Well, that is now done, so I’m going to explore what I found. I think this will be my last post on mass shooting data analysis, unless something new surfaces.

Previous articles:

Part 1, Mother Jones Data: https://jonamdall.com/2017/08/07/mass-shooting-research/

Part 2, gunviolencearchives.org Data and Rampages: https://jonamdall.com/2017/08/09/mass-shooting-research-part-2-rampage-events/

For background, let’s sum up some of what we’ve talked about previously. First, we should establish the definition of a mass shooting event; that is, “four or more shot and/or killed in a single event [incident], at the same general time and location, not including the shooter.” In the my two previous articles, we explored publicly available data from Mother Jones and gunviolencearchive.org (GVA). Each of these sources has its strengths and weaknesses. Mother Jones’ data contains significantly less events (seemingly only those with strong media coverage), but provides more details by way of mental illness, demographics, venue, and more. GVA’s data documents hundreds more events from 2014-2017, but only indicates a location and number of victims. Mother Jones also provides events going back to 1982, whereas GVA’s publicly available data only goes to 2014.

In this article, since GVA provides seemingly more complete numbers from 2014-2017, I’m going to explore the state distribution of events based on GVA’s list. To conduct this analysis, as usual, I’m going to lean on functions and Pivots from Excel. I took GVA’s basic list, added 2016 U.S. Census population estimates for each state, and generated per capita mass shooting event numbers for total victims (injured and killed) and number of victims killed. I also created an “adjusted per capita” which was designed to present an easier to evaluate number; this was calculated by multiplying per capita for each state by one million. I also added U.S. Census Regions and Divisions to organize states into logical groups.

First, I’ll show some graphics for total/raw numbers. These are not adjusted for population; they simply show numbers per state.

GVA raw TOTAL VIC by state

Table 1. Raw Total Victim Counts (Killed and Injured) in Mass Shootings by State. These numbers are unadjusted/unweighted for population, and are grouped by state/region. From gunviolencearchive.org Data Covering 2014-2017.

GVA Total Mass SHooting Victim Percentages by Region

Table 2. Raw Total Victim Counts (Killed and Injured) in Mass Shootings by U.S. Census Region. These numbers are unadjusted/not weighted for population. From gunviolencearchive.org Data Covering 2014-2017.

As I’ve mentioned, because of vast population differences in states, raw numbers do not always tell the full story about how significant a threat is. To get a better idea of impact to a state, it’s helpful to weight by population. The next charts show mass shooting per capita and adjusted per capita numbers.

GVA adjusted per capita TOTAL VIC by state

Table 3. Adjusted Per Capita Total Victim Counts (Killed and Injured) in Mass Shootings by State. These numbers are adjusted/weighted for population based on 2016 U.S. Census estimates, and are grouped by state/region. From gunviolencearchive.org Data Covering 2014-2017.

GVA adjusted per capita KILLED ONLY by state

Table 4. Adjusted Per Capita Killed Victims in Mass Shootings by State. These numbers are adjusted/weighted for population based on 2016 U.S. Census estimates, are grouped by state/region, and do not Include Injured Victims. From gunviolencearchive.org Data Covering 2014-2017.

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