The mass slaughters listed in the report caused the deaths of 547 people. Over the same three decades through 2012, that’s less than a tenth of 1 percent of the 559,347 people the Federal Bureau of Investigation estimates were murdered in America.
“It is a very, very small percentage,” said James Alan Fox, who teaches criminology at Boston’s Northeastern University and co-authored a book about mass shootings called “Extreme Killing,” published in 2011.
In the wake of shootings such as the one in Washington that claimed at least 13 lives, including the alleged shooter, “our tendancy is to go overboard and overreach in terms of trying to increase levels of security,” Fox said. “The fear is greater than the risk.”
In his research, Fox uses a broader definition of mass killing than the research service report — he looks at any homicide resulting in four or more deaths, regardless of motive, which includes killings in domestic disputes and robberies gone bad. He reports no increase in mass killings in recent years.
“This is not an epidemic,” he said.