There have been a lot of uniquely awful mass shooting tragedies in the news lately; the shocking uniqueness makes them newsworthy, because it’s new, or at least, out-of-the-ordinary. But it’s easy to confuse the frequency of these heartbreaking reports with the actual rate of mass shootings in which four or more people are shot. They didn’t “start up again” once COVID-19 vaccines became available — they were happening all throughout 2020, too, at even higher rates than before. They were just overshadowed by other news that was deemed more new and newsworthy.
Believe it or not, mass shootings account for just 1% of all gun deaths in America. The ones we hear about tend to take place in public settings, where some disgruntled person (usually a man) takes their anger out on strangers (often, though not always, in ways that reflect and resonate with larger issues around racism, misogyny, homophobia, etc). More often, however, mass shootings occur inside of homes, and/or between people who already knew each other. But their stories don’t get much press beyond the local news, because they’re not deemed to be “new.”
Similarly, the trial of Derek Chauvin made the news because it was also unique. Aside from the obvious reasons of racist police brutality and the cruel exploitation of victims of the opioid epidemic, there’s the fact that Chauvin was just 1 of 5 police officers since 2005 to be convicted of murder without the case being overturned (so far). Again: that’s news, because it’s new.
Like mass shootings, most police shootings occur without any news or fanfare. The difference is that police shootings actually occur at twice the rate of mass shootings, with about a thousand people shot and killed by police every year (a disproportionate number of whom are racial/ethnic minorities, and/or people with disabilities), compared to less than 500 people killed in mass shootings annually on average. According to the American Sociological Association, 350 out of every 100,000 Americans are killed by gun…