Last Saturday night, a 15-year boy allegedly murdered his parents and three siblings at the family home near Albuquerque. Should we add it to the list of recent mass shootings? Of course, says criminologist James Alan Fox of Northeastern University in the Boston Globe, although one news source, Mother Jones magazine, says it shouldn't be a part of the discussion.
In the public debate over the causes and solutions to mass shootings, the overwhelming consensus is that mass shootings are on the rise. Given the widely-publicized and exceptionally dreadful mass shootings in Colorado last summer and in Connecticut last month, it is rather easy to believe that that mass murder is a growing menace. Yet the growing menace lies more in our fears than in the facts. Mother Jones concluded that mass shootings are on the increase, but it didn’t count cases with more than one shooter or because the shooter was related to his or her victims. Including such cases, there have been on average, nearly 20 mass shootings a year in the U.S. since 1976. There has been no upward trend.