Mass shootings that capture public imagination diverge from the reality of multiple shootings that take place across the nation every day, says the Christian Science Monitor. That gap, some say, points to a culture that has developed a stratified sense of what kinds of violence merit attention. “The way we talk about mass shootings, you're almost creating two categories: shootings of people that matter a lot and shootings of people who don't matter at all,” says Eugene O'Donnell of John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “There's this hierarchy of victims, and we should categorically reject that.” The databases Mass Shooting Tracker and Gun Violence Archive indicate that this year, there have been 367 mass shootings. More than 100 involved only one death, and nearly 160 involved no fatalities. The incidents occurred in 47 states and 221 cities.
Hundreds of these events remain unrecognized except by locals is the tendency of the public to feel like such incidents could never happen to them. “When the event is familial [or] … gang-related, the public can, if you will, put that event at a distance and pretend they're not somehow involved because the event involved a group of people of which the public is not a part, like a family or a gang. 'Oh, I don't have to worry about this,' ” says Garen Wintemute of the Violence Prevention Research Program at the University of California, Davis. On the other hand, the randomness of mass shootings such as San Bernardino tend to unsettle people and force them to consider the possibility that it could happen to them. “There should be public concern over gun crime generally,” says criminologist James Alan Fox of Northeastern University. “[Mass shootings are] the very smallest tip of a huge iceberg.”