Most victims of US mass shootings are black, data analysis finds

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Few of the incidents in the New York Times-Reddit analysis resembled planned carnages that attracted intense media and political attention in recent years

A new analysis of 358 mass shootings in America in 2015 found that three-quarters of the victims whose race could be identified were black.

Roughly a third of the incidents with known circumstances were drive-by shootings or established by law enforcement as gang-related. Another third were triggered by arguments, often among people who were drunk or high.

About one in 10 of the shootings were identified as related to domestic violence. In these shootings the majority of victims and perpetrators were white. Domestic violence incidents were also much more likely to be fatal. The 39 domestic violence cases represented 11% of the total incidents but 31% of victims who died.

The analysis, undertaken by the New York Times with data collected by Reddits mass shooting tracker and the Gun Violence Archive, use law enforcement provides information on shootings that left four or more people injured or dead in 2015.

Few of the incidents resembled the kinds of schemed carnages in schools, churches and movie theater that have attracted intense media and political attention. Instead, the analysis, defined purely by the number of victims injured, revealed that many were part of the broader onu of everyday gun violence on economically struggling neighborhoods.

Nearly 90% of thezip codesthat saw mass shootings had higher-than-average poverty rates.

In one Cincinnati neighborhood there were three multiple-casualty shootings within a single mile, two of them only 300 ft apart. The neighborhood, which had high rates of poverty and unemployment, had seen shootings on that block approximately every other month.

Some proponents said they thought the Times analysis might help improve public understanding of what gun violence in America actually looks like.

If we dont address the problem where it exists then we wont be allowed to make a change, said Mike McLively, a staff attorney at the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, which recently released a report on effective solutions to prevent gun demises in neighborhoods of colour.

Last year, a series of high-profile murders at an historical black church in Charleston, South Carolina; a college in Roseburg, Oregon; and an office holiday party in San Bernardino, California sparked public outrage.

Two crowdsourced projects that counted gun violence and mass shootings gained new prominence. “Were not receiving” official definition of a mass shooting, though the FBI defines mass murder as four or more people murdered in a single incident.

The Rev Al Sharpton visits the memorial site at the church where nine people were murdered in Charleston, South Carolina. Photograph: John Taggart/ EPA

Reddits mass shooting tracker generated a more expansive definition of mass shooting, defining it as four people shot or killed in a single incident, and used news reports to create a database of the incidents.

Many media outlets highlighted these mass shooting figures last year , noting that the US had considered more than 200 mass shootings by mid-August an average of more than one a day.

The viral popularity of such numbers sparked a debate on how to define mass shooting and whether crowdsourced countings were misleading.

Some experts argued this expanded definition of mass shooting was valuable, since it put attention on the broader scope of firearm violence in America, especially the terrible toll of non-fatal shootings, which get much less attention than gun murders, despite leaving victims with serious and debilitating traumata.

Other criticssuggested that these mass shooting numbers distorted the debate over gun violence and devoted Americans the impression that the various kinds of planned attacks they ensure on the news were occurring every day.

Mark Follman, a journalist who results an award-winning Mother Jones project that tallies and tracks decades of public mass shootings, wrote in December that America had watched four mass shootings in 2014 , not 355.

Follman was contended that while all the victims are important, conflating all kinds of handgun violence confounded the effort to understand and prevent planned public murders, which he called a complicated and growing problem.

Follman told the Guardian on Monday he guessed the new report from the New York Times wisely doesnt hype the hundreds of cases as mass shootings, which otherwise confuses and stirs undue fear among the general public by eliciting Sandy Hook or San Bernardino.

Real challenges facing black communities

The New York Times requested official details from law enforcement on 358 incidents from 2015, in which 462 people were killed and 1,330 were injured. It was able to obtain details about race for 67% of victims. Nearly three-quarters of those were black, as were about three-quarters of alleged attackers. Researchers could provide information about motive in three out of four of the shootings.

The findings raise troubling the issue of the number of shootings fueled by petty debates when people had been drinking or utilizing narcotics. As a 2013 its consideration of gun violence prevention research by the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council noted, regulations that limit hours for alcohol marketings in pub, bars, and nightclubs have been associated with reduced violence.

The review also suggested that the US invest in more research looking at alcohol regulations and handgun violence.

Flowers are left by the side of the road as police block the road leading to the site of the mass shooting in San Bernardino, California. Photo: Xinhua/ Barcroft Media

Only about half of the mass shootings had been solved, the Times found. In some cities, the number was lower. Chicago had made arrests in only two of 16 mass shootings, while Baltimore had 11 incidents in 2015 and had not solved one.

Dante Barry, executive director of Million Hoodies for Justice, said the report highlighted the real challenges facing black communities in holding religion in the justice system.

When suspected attackers cannot be identified and cases run unresolved, it doesnt leave room for black people to believe in a system that wasnt designed to protect our own interest, he told.

According to the Times report, even after a nearly 50% drop in the gun assassination rate since the early 1990 s, black Americans are still six to 10 times more likely to die from gun violence than whites.

While the report found that many multiple-victim shootings were gang-related, it also noted that current realities of this gang violence was very different from the image of sophisticated criminal organizations warring over drug gains and turf.

Law enforcement officials told the Times gangs in many cities were loose, fractured groups of teens and young adults. Many gang-related mass shootings began as fights over small incidents of perceived contempt.

Barry said he was glad the report highlighted how everyday gun violence affecting young black Americans was often fueled by what could be considered minor disagreements turning into deadly stalemates, including battle[ s] over shoes, on social media, or at a party.

Advocates said the report also highlighted the importance of constructing sure proposed political solutions to handgun violence address the majority of the victims not only the casualties of rare, high-profile carnages that are more likely to raise debate over mental health fund, school security measure or bans on military-style rifles.

After the 2012 Sandy Hook elementary school shooting, in which 20 “childrens and” six adults were killed, California pastor Michael McBride went to the White House to ask the Obama administration to invest more funding in gun violence prevention programs specially designed for urban neighborhoods. He was not successful.

McBride, who results a national campaign focused on gun violence prevention and criminal justice reform, said it was frustrating to see local programs demonstrate dramatic outcomes in reducing shootings, but then struggle to spread to new cities or maintain their funding.

Weve found very few serious attempts to scale up gun violence prevention programs grounded in public health models for urban communities, he said.

If we want to talk about the pathology of black demise vis–vis gun violence, then lets also talk about the pathology of failed political leadership from both the Democrats and Republicans to make the conditions for public safety.

The American firearm debate, he said, can at times feel very disingenuous.

An earlier version of this story said that the Gun Violence Archive was a crowdsourced database that integrated within Reddits mass shooting tracker. In fact, the two projects have not merged. The Gun Violence Archives data is collected by paid research personnel .

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