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September 28, 2013

Mass Killings Are Not Up

The rhetoric of gun-grabbers and fear-mongers notwithstanding.

Yet chances of being killed in a mass killing are probably no greater than being struck by lightning, according to Grant Duwe, a criminologist with the Minnesota Department of Corrections who has written a history of mass killings in America. He says mass killings peaked in 1929 and have dropped in the 2000s.

Over the past 30 years, the United States has steadily averaged about 20 mass killings each year, according to James Alan Fox, a Northeastern University criminology professor who studies such events.

The reality is that you are at greater risk of dying in a car accident -- or even being struck by lightning -- than of being the victim of some incident of mass violence.

So why does it seem like there is so much more violence? Easy -- we communicate about it more.

[John Phelps, President of the Risk Management Society] recalls the assassinations of the 1960s, the rampant hijacking of airplanes in the 1970s, the bombing of Beirut barracks and the midair destruction of a Pan Am airliner in the 1980s.

"Today, news can live in social media for a long time," Phelps says. "You didn't have cable TV news back then. So it's a different period in communication, which may make it appear to some people that the threats have increased."

We live in a 24 hour news cycle. We can get to-the-second updates from witnesses, victims and survivors of such incidents via social networking sites. The information inundates us -- and it seems like here is more happening. There is, but it is more awareness and discussion rather than more violence.

So remind the gun-grabbers and fear-mongers of that reality when the seek to limit your freedom through law or fear.





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