There have been more mass shootings than days in 2023
As of Jan. 29, there have been a total of 49 mass shootings in the US — nearly 1.7 per day. This increased from the 31 mass shootings that had occurred by this time in 2022. The longest stretch of time the U.S. has gone without a mass shooting this year is three days, twice: Jan. 10 through Jan. 12 and Jan. 18 through Jan. 20.
This year, the first mass shooting occurred in Allentown, Pa. when four people were shot at a recreation center late on New Year’s Day. Since Jan. 16, California has been home to six mass shootings that have left at least 21 injured and 30 dead.
Why have so many mass shootings been happening this year? According to some experts, it’s a case of “mass shooting contagion.” According to James Alan Fox, a professor of criminology at Northwestern University, “Contagion' is a statistical process. It's when the likelihood of a similar crime of another mass shooting increases in the aftermath of another mass shooting.” He also pointed to a 2015 study from researchers at Arizona State University that supported the idea of mass shooting contagion. They found that every mass shooting tends to increase the likelihood of another mass shooting for about 13 days.
Last year, mass shooting contagion was seen following the mass shooting of 10 Black people at a Buffalo supermarket. Ten days later was the Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde, Texas.
It should be noted that, though mass shootings gain the most attention on news sites and social media, they make up less than one percent of annual homicides.
Though California has stricter gun laws than most states — boasting more than 100 gun laws — it still has mass shootings. Why is that?
First, it is important to note that it seems like their gun control laws have worked, as they have the lowest rate of gun death in America. But like all states, California has to contend with the gun trade from other states, especially “ghost” guns. “Ghost” guns are those that are bought online and assembled at home — they are unserialized and untraceable.
Additionally, California law prohibits people who are deemed to be a danger to others or themselves from owning guns. However, those who haven’t been officially flagged by the courts or law enforcement can still own guns. Also, if a gun was legal for someone to own when bought but is now illegal, it doesn’t have to be given up. The gun that was used in the Monterey Park shooting on Jan. 21 was illegal for a number of reasons, but the high-capacity magazine may have been legal, depending on when the attacker bought it.
So with 29 days down and 49 mass shootings already under America’s belt, should we expect there to be over 600 mass shootings this year? At the current rate, it’s an unfortunate yes.