Sep 7, 2019

What the deadliest mass shootings have in common

The deadliest mass shootings in recent history have had one thing in common: the perpetrator used an assault rifle.

Why it matters: These weapons possess an incredible amount of killing power, and amplify the destructive will of the person who carries out an attack. Nine people died and 27 were injured in a mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio in an attack that lasted 32 seconds. The killer used an AR-15 style assault rifle.

  • Since 1999, there have been 115 mass shootings (defined below) in which 941 people were killed and 1,431 were injured.
  • Of those 115 attacks, 32 — just over a quarter — involved semi-automatic rifles. But those attacks accounted for 40% of all deaths and 69% of all injuries.
  • Since 2017, 12 of the 31 mass shootings involved assault rifles — which caused 39% of the deaths and 92% of the injuries.
  • That includes the Las Vegas massacre — which alone accounts for almost 40% of all mass shooting injuries since 1999. The perpetrator of that shooting used over 20 assault rifles during that attack.

About the data: This chart uses Mother Jones' dataset on mass shootings, which tracks the events since 1982. Our analysis is focused on shootings since 1999 — the year Columbine took place.

  • The data classifies a mass shooting as an attack in a public place where at least 4 people are killed with a gun.
  • This benchmark was lowered to 3 in 2013, after a mandate from the Obama administration to study mass shootings. Events in the data reflect the lower benchmark after 2013.

Go deeper

Florida gun control activists push to get assault weapon ban on 2020 ballot

A memorial setup for those killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Gun control advocates in Florida are pushing to meet a February deadline for enough signatures to get a proposed constitutional amendment banning assault weapons on the 2020 ballot, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Why it matters: If successful, the ballot measure would place some of the tightest limits on the weapons most commonly used in mass shootings. It would "outlaw all new semiautomatic rifles and shotguns capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition in either a fixed or detachable magazine," per the WSJ.

Go deeperArrowSep 28, 2019

MSNBC to host gun safety forum for 2020 Democrats

Photo: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

MSNBC is partnering with March for Our Lives and a nonprofit founded by former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who survived a 2011 shooting, to host a gun safety forum featuring 10 2020 Democrats on Oct. 2.

Why it matters: Activism around gun violence has been more sustained than usual since mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton last month, per Axios' Neal Rothschild. Immigration, which had been the top issue in terms of social media interactions throughout much of 2019, is now in second place behind guns.

Go deeperArrowSep 19, 2019

Democrats' watershed moment on guns

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

One sentence from Beto O'Rourke has the potential to upset a decades-old balancing act on guns by top Democrats: "Hell yes, we're going to take your AR-15, your AK-47," O'Rouke said during last night's debate.

Why it matters: Moving the status quo from "who can buy a gun," or even "what guns can they buy," to "what guns can people own" is a really big deal.

Go deeperArrowSep 13, 2019