We’ve Had Mass Shootings Every Year But Three Since 1982

2012 remains the bloodiest year for mass shootings in recent U.S. history

Dec 03, 2015 at 12:41 PM ET

Just three years since 1982 have passed without a mass shooting in the United States, and the last time that happened was 13 years ago. According to one of the most-cited databases of mass shootings, 2002, 1985 and 1983 were the only years with no mass killings in which a lone shooter shot at least four people dead in a public place. (Caveat: definitions of what constitutes a mass shooting are a matter of huge debate right now)

A mass shooting, according to Mother Jones,is defined as any incident where the shooter takes the lives of at least four people. Their defintion also states the killings must have been carried out by a lone shooter in a public place, but yet makes a special allowance for the Westside Middle School and Columbine killings of 1998 and 1999, and Wednesday’s San Bernardino, California shooting, which were carried out by multiple gunmen. Crimes primarily related to gang activity, armed robbery, or domestic violence in homes are excluded from this definition.

By that definition, 2012 was the bloodiest year in recent history, with 72 total mass shooting deaths and 68 total injuries caused by seven mass shooting incidents. The deadliest single incident remains the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting on December 14, in which 28 people died and two were injured. By a broader definition, namely the crowdsourced, 2015 has already seen 355 mass shooting events.