Mass Shootings and Assault Weapons
UPDATE: This post has been updated to include the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting that occurred on October 27th, 2018.
The death toll in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland makes it one of the deadliest gun massacres in U.S. history, and it was the deadliest school shooting since 20 first graders and six educators were gunned down inside Sandy Hook Elementary School. After the Parkland shooting, it emerged that the perpetrator purchased his AR-15 assault rifle legally. That weapon and others like it were once banned under U.S. law and there are growing calls for a reintroduction of that legislation.
The AR-15 is a civilian version of the military grade M4 and M16 type of rifles that are designed to deliver relatively small sized rounds at high velocity in order to inflict devastating and lethal wounds. “Routine handgun gunshot injuries leave entry and exit wounds and linear tracks through the victim’s body that are roughly the size of the bullet….The bullets fired by an AR-15 are different: They travel at a higher velocity and are far more lethal than routine bullets fired from a handgun. The damage they cause is a function of the energy they impart as they pass through the body. A typical AR-15 bullet leaves the barrel traveling almost three times faster than—and imparting more than three times the energy of—a typical 9mm bullet from a handgun.” (from “What I Saw Treating the Victims From Parkland Should Change the Debate on Guns”)
In his book “Rampage Nation” Louis Klarevas of the University of Massachusetts at Boston notes that gun massacres (defined as a shooting incident in which six or more people are shot and killed) fell 37 percent during the period the federal assault weapons ban was in place between 1994 and 2004, and that in the ten years after it lapsed, they went up an alarming 183 percent.
Below are the deadliest mass shootings in modern US History. Note that only two (Columbine and Atlanta, both in 1999) occurred during the 10 year period (1994 – 2004) the assault weapons ban was in place.
Shootings where a semi-automatic rifle was used are highlighted.
|Incident||Year||Number Killed||Number Injured|
|Tree of Life Synagogue Shooting||2018||11||6|
|Santa Fe High School shooting||2018||10||14|
|Stoneman Douglas High School shooting||2018||17||17|
|Las Vegas shooting||2017||59 (incl. the perp.)||851 (422 from gunfire)|
|Sutherland Springs church shooting||2017||27 (incl. the perp.)||20|
|Orlando nightclub shooting||2016||50 (incl. the perp.)||53|
|San Bernardino attack||2015||16 (incl. both perps.)||24|
|Umpqua Community College shooting||2015||10 (incl. the perp.)||8|
|Washington Navy Yard shooting||2013||13 (incl. the perp.)||8|
|Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting||2012||28 (incl. the perp.)||2|
|Binghamton shootings||2009||14 (incl the perp.)||4|
|Fort Hood shooting||2009||14||33 (incl the perp)|
|Geneva County massacre||2009||11 (incl. the perp.)||6|
|Virginia Tech shooting||2007||33 (incl. the perp.)||23|
|Red Lake shootings||2005||10 (incl. the perp.)||5|
|Atlanta shootings||1999||10 (incl. the perp.)||13|
|Columbine High School massacre||1999||15 (inc. both perps.)||24|
|Luby’s shooting||1991||24 (incl. the perp.)||27|
|GMAC shootings||1990||10 (incl. the perp.)||6|
|Edmond post office shooting||1986||15 (incl. the perp.)||6|
|Palm Sunday massacre||1984||10||0|
|San Ysidro McDonald’s massacre||1984||23 (inc. the perp.)||19|
|Wah Mee massacre||1983||13||1|
|Easter Sunday massacre||1975||11||0|
|University of Texas tower shooting||1966||18 (incl. the perp)||31|