The U.S. homicide rate, which hit a peak in the early 1990s at about 10 per 100,000 people, has been cut in half, to a level not seen since the early 1960s. The Washington Post says there has been no corresponding decline in mass murder, with 645 such events (killings with at least 4 victims), between 1976 and 2010, says Northeastern University criminologist James Alan Fox. When graphed, these incidents show no obvious trend. The numbers go up and down and up again. The total body count: 2,949.
So far, the Aurora, Co., massacre remains inexplicable even by the standards of other mass killings. “It looks about as a senseless as you can get,” said Gary LaFree, a criminologist at the University of Maryland who tracks terrorist attacks. “It is spooky.” Classmates of suspect James Holmes, 24, did not know him well. Any psychiatric history is unknown.