How Many Mass Shootings Have Really Happened? San Bernardino Said To Be 355th This Year

The San Bernardino shooting that left 14 people dead and many more injured has now fallen into the category of a “mass shooting.” Some have said that it’s actually the 355th mass shooting to happen in 2015 alone. That term has been thrown around a lot in the last couple of days, and many people have started trying to calculate just how many mass shootings have really happened.

Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik, a married couple, were the shooters in San Bernardino and have now been confirmed to be “supporters of ISIS,” per CNN. ISIS revealed the married couple were supporters and hailed both of them for killing all those people.

On Saturday, ISIS’ al-Bayan Radio even declared their support of the now deceased shooters.

“We pray to God to accept them as martyrs.”

This tragedy is constantly being referred to as a “mass shooting,” and if it isn’t, then it’s hard to say what constitutes as one. On Wednesday, the Washington Post reported that San Bernardino was indeed the second mass shooting of the day and the 355th of 2015.

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Image via Twitter/LA Online Daily

That number is going by the “broader definition” of mass shooting, as the old FBI definition focused on a mass shooting being one that focused on four or more people being killed in a single act. After that, the report goes on to state that San Benardino was the second mass shooting of the day as one person was killed and three were injured earlier in the day in Savannah, Georgia.

A shooting tracker on Reddit has 2015 already ahead of the 336 mass shootings in 2014 and on pace with 2013 when there were reportedly 363 mass shootings.

Now, the definition of a “mass shooting” is what’s making a lot of people think there have been 355 of them this year. Others don’t really know what to make of that number or how to define a mass shooting.

That’s where Mother Jones has come in with a very detailed account of the mass shootings from 2015 and everything included with them. The database actually covers more than three decades of public mass shootings, and by their measures, there have been four this year, including San Bernardino.

Putting into account their statistics, there have been at least 73 such attacks since 1982.

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Image by Kevin Moloney/Getty Images

Putting into account the shootings at Columbine, Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech, and more, that is a vastly different number from what the Washington Post reported. How are the numbers so extremely off from one report to the next?

The issue is that there is no total, complete, and official definition of “mass shooting.”

Mark Follman, an editor for Mother Jones, wrote for the NY Times that many of the other shootings looked at as “mass shootings” actually aren’t. Those incidents are much different than what took place in San Bernardino.

“Almost all of the gun crimes behind the much larger statistic are less lethal and bear little relevance to the type of public mass murder we have just witnessed again.”

The comparison is made that a 1 a.m. gang fight in a Sacramento restaurant that killed two and injured two is not the same thing as a deranged man going into a community college classroom and killing nine and injuring nine more. Some would look at both as a “mass shooting,” but it’s hard to believe they are.

Both situations are tragic, but not necessarily are both mass.

It’s like the shooting in Savannah the other day where one was killed and three were injured. By the way some define a mass shooting, it’s putting that horror in the same breath as the San Bernardino shooting that killed 14 and injured around 17.

Yes, every single victim (killed or injured) is important in every shooting, but not all are mass.

Mass shootings don’t have a clearly defined definition and many people just look at it as they feel it should be. A guy who goes by the handle of “Billy Speed” runs the Shooting Tracker website, and its criteria says that a mass shooting is where four or more people are reported to have been injured or killed.

When asked why he used that definition, Speed simply said that it was because it’s what he wanted it to be.

“Three years ago I decided, all by myself, to change the United States’ definition of mass shooting.”

355 mass shootings in 2015? Some may think that and it’s a number that could be accurate, depending on what definition of “mass shooting” you’re going by. Every single shooting doesn’t need to happen and every victim is important, but the term “mass shooting” freaks out a lot of people and it’s hard to even determine what one actually is.

[Image via Twitter/ABC7]