How many mass shootings took place in the US in 2022?
There is no common definition of a mass shooting – depending on which database is used, there were seven to 753 mass shootings across the US in 2022.
On January 23, a 67-year-old gunman shot and killed seven people in a coastal community in northern California.
The latest bloodshed in the United States came less than 48 hours after an attacker killed 11 people at a Lunar New Year celebration near Los Angeles, California, on Saturday night.
These incidents are one of many in a years-long series of mass shootings in the US.
According to a tally by the non-profit Gun Violence Archive, between January 1 and 23, there have been at least 39 such incidents in which four or more people were shot or killed – not including the attacker – in a single incident.
What is a mass shooting?
There are at least five active databases that track mass shootings across the US, each with a different threshold for the minimum number of casualties, location of the incident and motivation of the shooter(s).
The Mother Jones and The Violence Project trackers have the most restrictive definitions of a mass shooting, counting incidents with at least three or four fatalities respectively, where the shooting was in a public place and where the shooter’s targets were indiscriminate in nature.
The Everytown for Gun Safety database has a broader definition of a mass shooting – where four or more people are killed but where the shooting occurred anywhere including in a private setting and where the shooter had any motive including crimes of armed robbery, gang violence or domestic violence.
The Gun Violence Archive and the Mass Shooting Tracker have the least restrictive definition and include incidents where guns are used to kill or injure four or more people irrespective of location or the shooter’s motivation.
Based on these definitions, there were between seven and 753 mass shootings across the US in 2022.
By the end of 2022, the number of mass shootings across the US was:
The Violence Project: 7 mass shootings, 48 dead, 90 injured
Mother Jones: 12 mass shootings, 74 dead, 104 injured
Everytown for Gun Safety: 26 mass shootings, 140 dead, 98 injured
Gun Violence Archive: 647 mass shootings, 673 dead, 2,700 injured
Mass Shooting Tracker: 753 mass shootings, 859 dead, 2,982 injured
On a federal level, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) does not specifically track mass shootings, rather the federal law enforcement agency defines a “mass murder” as an incident where four or more people are murdered in one event.
Active shootings in the US are on the rise
Data analysis by the Rand Corporation found that inconsistencies in defining mass shootings by government agencies have led to different assessments of how frequently they occur and whether they are more common now than they were a decade or two ago.
A useful proxy, then, is to measure what the FBI calls “active shooting incidents” – which does have an agreed-upon definition among government agencies.
Since 2014, the FBI has kept track of active shooting incidents which it defines as “an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area; in most cases, active shooters use firearm(s) and there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims”.
According to the FBI’s Active Shooter Incidents report, there were 61 active shooter incidents in the US in 2021 – a 52 percent increase from 2020 – and the highest year on record. 2021’s attacks spread across 30 states, leaving 103 people dead and 140 wounded. The FBI recorded 20 such incidents every year from 2014 to 2016, 31 in 2017, and 30 in both 2018 and 2019.
The FBI noted that its active shooter report does not encompass all gun violence or even all mass shootings.
The deadliest mass shootings in the US
Seven of the 10 deadliest mass shootings in US history took place during the past 10 years alone – four of them occurred in Texas.
According to The Violence Project, which has recorded mass shootings in the US since 1966, the deadliest mass shootings in the US include:
- Las Vegas concert, October 1, 2017: A gunman opened fire on a country music festival from a 32nd-floor hotel suite, killing 60 people before taking his own life.
- Orlando nightclub, June 12, 2016: A gunman fatally shot 49 people at Pulse, a gay nightclub, before he was shot dead by police.
- Virginia Tech, April 16, 2007: A 23-year-old student at Virginia Tech, fatally shot 27 students and five professors before taking his life.
- Sandy Hook Elementary, December 14, 2012: A 20-year-old gunman killed 20 students and six adults before taking his own life.
- Sutherland Springs church, November 5, 2017: A man thrown out of the US Air Force for beating his wife and child shot 25 people dead at a rural Texas church where his in-laws worshipped before killing himself.
- Luby’s shooting, October 16, 1991: A 35-year-old man drove his truck through the front window of a Luby’s restaurant in Texas and then fatally shot 23 people before killing himself.
- El Paso Walmart, August 3, 2019: A man fatally shot 22 people at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas. A statement, believed to have been written by the suspect, called the attack “a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas”. Authorities arrested the gunman.
- San Ysidro McDonalds, July 18, 1984: A 41-year-old gunman fatally shot 21 people and wounded 19 others before being killed by a police sniper.
- Robb Elementary School, May 24, 2022: an 18-year-old gunman stormed the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, fatally shooting 19 children and two teachers, before being shot dead by police.
- Parkland high school, February 14, 2018: A former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, killed 17 students and educators.