GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Following the mall shooting in Maryland on Saturday, WFMY News 2 wants to know: are there more shootings now, or are we just hearing about them more because of the Internet and cell phones?
University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) senior research scientist, Jacquelyn White joined Frank Mickens on WFMY News 2 at 5:00 p.m. to discuss the topic.
Are shootings happening more, or do we just hear about them more now, than we did 10, or 15 yeas ago?
White: Yes. US Attorney General Eric Holder said at an annual conference of police chiefs on Monday. The average number of mass shootings in the U.S. has tripled in recent years. The yearly average of mass shootings has tripled from an average of five per year between the years of 2000 and 2008. At least 12 mass shootings have taken place in 2013.
With that said, such incidents account for less than one percent of the nation's firearm-related deaths. Mass shootings receive intense media coverage, generate understandable public alarm, and appear to fuel the purchase of firearms.
How do we deal with hearing, seeing so many shootings?
White: Remember that public mass shootings are rare. The most recent available evidence documents that daily deaths from firearms averaged 54 suicides, 30 homicides, and more than two unintentional deaths, with totals of firearm-related deaths for the year equaling 19,766 suicides, 11,101 homicides, and 851 unintentional deaths.
How can people keep perspective with news of shootings?
White: Remember that public mass shootings are rare. And that many professionals are actively working to address the issue.
Reach out to policy makers and voice support for strategies to protect the health of the population, particularly the need for adequate funding for mental health crisis services and the importance of not stigmatizing vulnerable populations. A continuum of mental health services to meet the needs both of persons with severe mental illness and of persons in emotional crisis is essential to firearm violence prevention, including threat assessment methods for use once an individual has been identified as making or posing a specific threat of violence, including firearms violence.