While the attack at the San Bernardino holiday party and the June shooting at the Emanuel A.M.E. church in Charleston, S.C., will remain seared in public consciousness, mass public shootings remain the least common form of gun violence in the U.S., says the Christian Science Monitor. Focusing on the FBI definition – an incident in which four or more victims are shot and killed – there have been 22 mass shootings this year. in which 133 people were killed and 52 were wounded. The shooters were usually white men acting alone, and they typically were motivated by personal disputes, rather than politics or ideology. Barring further shootings before year’s end, 2015 should end up being just slightly above average compared with the past 15 years. “There should be concern, but not alarm and not panic, and not knee-jerk reactions and quick fixes,” says criminologist James Alan Fox of Northeastern University. “The sky is not falling; it's just gray, and it’s been gray for a while.”
The Congressional Research Service says that between 1999 and 2013 there were an average of 21 mass shootings per year. Before to this year, the last public U.S. mass shooting by an Islamist extremist was in 2009 at Fort Hood, Texas. The most common type of mass shooting this year was a “familicide” mass killing, in which a family member or former intimate partner shoots four or more victims. There were nine such cases. Fox, who says mass shootings have plateaued after increasing in the 1970s and '80s, is in favor of a broader definition that would include familicides and gang violence. “If you and three other people are murdered, does it matter if it's your brother or father or a stranger? You’re just as dead,” he says.