The National Insitute of Justice (NIJ) has announced the release of an NIJ funded research project, awarded to Hamline University, studying mass shootings in the United States. The aim of the project is to “build a broader understanding on the part of the public, the justice system, and the research community of who mass shooters are and what motivates their decision to discharge firearms at multiple people.” Also provided is the original researchers’ report released by the National Criminal Justice Reference Service, which disseminates further project details. The project took place in four phases:
- Creation of a comprehensive database of over 172 mass public shooters from 1966 to 2019.
- Examination of situational variables and community-level socio-ecological factors of where mass public shootings took place.
- In-depth life history interviews with living mass shooters who are currently incarcerated and follow-up interviews with key stakeholders.
- Dissemination of findings, creation of a public website (The Violence Project), and implications for evidence-based prevention strategies.
Some key findings in the data show that:
- Mass shootings are on the rise. Of the shootings, 20 % took place in the last five years of the study period and more than half occurred after the year 2000.
- A troubled past and leaked plans are common to those who take part in mass shootings.
- Most shooters used legally-obtained handguns.
- Of the 172 individuals who engaged in public mass shootings covered in the database, 97.7% were male.
- The workplace of the shooter was the most common scene of mass shootings.