Since 1976, an average of 18 mass fatal shootings have occurred yearly in the U.S., killing nearly 3,000 people, says Northeastern University criminologist James Alan Fox. A spate of mass murders is prompting criminal justice analysts and government officials to call for a renewed national focus on the violence, says USA Today.
U.S. Conference of Mayors director Tom Cochran says much of the public has grown “numb” to a mounting body count. At least nine mass killings this year have claimed 57 lives. “As a country, we seem to be more interested in the origin of tainted pistachios, peanuts, and ice cream than the people who are being killed in our cities,” says Cochran. The group has scheduled a “national conversation” on the shootings when it meets in June in Providence. Paul Helmke of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence says, “At some level, we’ve lost the ability to get shocked and angry.” Criminologist James Short of Washington State University agrees some “saturation level” may have been reached after so many tragedies. Increases in mass murders sometimes have coincided with economic downturns: 23 incidents in 1982, when U.S. unemployment was 9.7 percent; 24 incidents in 1992, when it was 7.5 percent; and 27 in 1993, when it was 6.9 percent.