Sunday, January 28, 2018

Visualizing shooting data

Kate asked this morning about when mass shootings really took off.

I found a dataset compiled by Mother Jones magazine, and available here.

It's not too hard to turn that dataset into some charts.

Here's the frequency of mass shootings (as Mother Jones defines them), from 1982 through 2017:

Here's total fatalities per year:

Total people injured per year:

Victims (number killed plus number injured):

Here's all four measures in a single chart:

That one is dominated by the number of victims, because the number of injured is so much higher in 2017 than in any previous year, so I made another where each of the four indicators is "normalized" so that its level in 2017 is 100, and levels in previous years are scaled to be the appropriate relative size:
The 2017 numbers for fatalities and injuries are in fact dominated by the Las Vegas shooting, with 58 killed and 546 injured.

So in that sense the first chart, on frequencies, is the most revealing, and it shows an uneven but clear trend toward greater frequency.


  1. Well, since you are visualizing such cheery data, you may want to check out Why We’re Underestimating American Collapse: The Strange New Pathologies of the World’s First Rich Failed State. Be careful though--after reading it, you may want to stay right where you are!

    1. Kate's query was in response to a friend having posted an article on that same subject - I suspect the very same article.

      I haven't read that yet. I was just being the faithful data servant.

    2. Yeah, I don't know if the numbers & data are especially scary, as much as our collective indifference or sense that "there's nothing we can do":
      America has had 11 school shootings in the last 23 days. That’s one every other day, more or less. That statistic is alarming enough — but it is just a number. Perspective asks us for comparison. So let me put that another way. America has had 11 school shootings in the last 23 days, which is more than anywhere else in the world, even Afghanistan or Iraq. In fact, the phenomenon of regular school shootings appears to be a unique feature of American collapse — it just doesn’t happen in any other country — and that is what I mean by “social pathologies of collapse”: a new, bizarre, terrible disease striking society.

    3. Oops, that bolded part is a quote from the post. Meant to make it a blockquote.