On June 17, nine people were killed when Dylann Roof opened fire in Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC. David Hemenway, director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center and Harvard Youth Violence Prevention Center, weighed in on the topic of gun violence and mass shootings.
Are mass shootings becoming more common in the U.S.?
Most shootings of four or more people are usually in homes and other private settings, and are related to family violence. These do not seem to have been increasing. But mass public shootings have become more common. These shootings, in more public places and often of strangers, have been increasing over the past five years.
How does the U.S. compare with the rest of the world?
I compare us to our peer countries, the other high-income countries. The U.S. is average in terms of non-gun violence and non-gun crime. But we have many more guns, and much weaker gun laws, and thus far more gun deaths (e.g., gun homicides and overall homicides) than other developed nations. Not surprisingly, we also have many more mass shootings per capita.