Breaking down Mass Public Shooting data from 1998 through June 2019: Info on weapons used; gun-free zones; racial, age, and gender demographics

Jul 7, 2019 | Featured

The Excel file with detailed information on mass public shootings is available here. With all the discussion about having another assault weapon ban, only 13% of mass public shootings are done solely with any type of rifle. Twenty-eight percent involve only a rifle or a rifle in combination with a handgun and/or a shotgun. Among the other findings, about 9 in 10 of the attacks are in gun-free zones (though over the longer period from 1950 94% of the attacks are in gun-free zones), more than half the shooters are over age 30 and over 80 percent are at least 21 years of age. 96% are male and 58% are white. Still for many it might be surprising that such a large percentage of these attackers are minorities and that most are much older than K-12 or college age shooters. Earlier work that we had done showed that the vast majority of these killers have no religious or political views. 45% of the mass public shooters were seeing mental health care professionals within a year of their attacks.

While the majority of mass public shooters are white, they are much less than their share of the US population. Including people of Middle Eastern descent, about 76 percent of Americans were white over this period, but 66% of the mass public shooters were white (just 58% are white if you exclude people of Middle Eastern descent). About 3.7 million are Arab Americans and 6.5 million are Jewish Americans, so while 8% of shooters are of Middle Eastern Arab descent, they make up just over 1% of the US population.

Additionally, despite all the calls for background checks on the private transfers of guns, all the guns used in these attacks either were purchased using background checks or were stolen, so such background checks wouldn’t have made any difference in these attacks.



  1. Dr Stinde PhD

    Thank the. Your research is right on

  2. Heartland Patriot

    Excellent information. However, political affiliation or ideological leaning, when known, would have been useful, too. After all, the mass news media acts as if every shooter is a “right-wing gun-toting redneck racist, etc, etc, blah, blah, blah”. In reality, most of the mass killers don’t seem like they would even have been NRA members, much less fitting in some sort of ultra-conservative category.

      • Dan

        We would never hear the end of it if an NRA member was a mass shooter. I am reasonably sure there has never been one connected to the NRA. That is not to say there hasn’t been a mass shooter that at some time was a member of the NRA but they don’t make the roster public so we can’t just compare the list of NRA members to the list of mass shooters. We would have to determine if each shooter in some way has a connection to the NRA. But it doesn’t strike me a likely or really all that relevant. Why would they be concerned with gun rights if they’re going to go down in infamy for murdering a bunch of innocents? Would it some how be the fault of the NRA if it turned out that a mass shooter as some point in the past gave them money?

  3. Duane Spellecacy

    Obviously, Gun Free Zones are an Issue, and ‘rifles’ are NOT the problem…
    You Racial Demographic could be (or IS) Extremely Misleading to anyone that isn’t aware of the Same breakdown of Race Percentages. You should probably add that in…

  4. Zundfolge

    One additional pie chart I’d like to see posted with this data is:
    “total homicides committed as part of a mass shooting”
    “total homicides not committed as part of a mass shooting”.

    I imagine it would be a giant blue circle with a tiny orange sliver.

  5. Charles Jessee

    So the restrictions 21yr to buy firearms would have addressed no more than 18% *if* the shooters actually attempted to legally obtain firearms. Another “Tip of the Iceberg” gun law that misses the mark…

  6. Tom Campbell

    We could use a comment on the 11% Non-GFZ statistic versus the 98% since 1950 or some such.
    Should one believe that the something is happening to increase the number of MPSs in GFZs compared to the longer time line? We’ve been seeing the 98% for quite a long time.

  7. Tom Campbell

    Sorry, the long touted 98% is for MPSs in GFZs. Now we are seeing 89% in GFZs. What’s going on?

    • Mike Vonn

      This is a different period of evaluation. The 98% number, If I recall correctly, addressed all shootings between 1950 and 2012. This period is from 1998 to 2019.

  8. Mike Vonn

    In this file, you have the 2017 Mass shooting in Las Vegas as occuring not in a gun free zone.

    The shooters platform was a gun free zone (

    And the shooters targets were in a gun free zone (

    Now, I understand that this can get dirty when we are talking about big places, but all of his targets were in a gun free zone, as well as anyone in the hotel that could have responded with lethal force. That leaves very few effective responders, which is what this metric is actually attempting to measure

    • Richard Hinman

      Although the concert forbade guns, under Nevada law the people had a right to carry at the concert.
      So it was and wasn’t a gun-free zone.
      If the hotel was gun-free, that’s irrelevant.
      Do you really think a hotel guest would bust down a locked door and get the shooter?.
      That’s the job of the police.

      • Eric Bogomolny

        If I remember correctly, hotel security staff was also unarmed.

  9. Marc

    Compare the attacker race breakdown to the US population (2010 census count):

    There is an over representation of Black, Asian and Middle Eastern attackers, and clear under representation of White attackers as compared to the overall US population.

    It is absolutely clear that mass public attackers select politician enforced supposed “gun free” massacre zones for their crimes. They simply want no initial opposition and more time to complete their carnage. They may be psychopaths, but are not stupid.

  10. Robert Wing, Jr.

    Thanks for the updated figures. Since it seems that victims of school shootings have become so vocal in the anti-gun movement, I ran the numbers on school shootings. Unlike mass shootings in general, mass school shooters are young people with an average age of 21. That’s for shootings that killed more than 3. I haven’t run data on all school shootings, but I suspect if I did and included those that were not mass shootings or even had no deaths, the age would probably be younger yet.

    Age of mass school killers in the US.
    17, 19, 26, 15, 22, 20, 43, 27, 23, 32, 16, 17, 18, 15, 13, 11, 20, 28, 26.
    Two were over the age of 30. Average age = 21

    The young people are killing each other.

  11. Gary

    Do the numbers of homicides vs mass shootings charts include suicides in the homicide numbers? If so the % of mass shootings would b higher. We 2nd Amendment supporters always argue that suicide numbers should not be included when citing annual firearms murder rates.

    • Tom Campbell

      Suicide is not a homicide, by definition of homicide.

  12. Cee4

    You should not add those mass shootings perpetrated by the Soldiers of Allah. These are the result of the war between Christian/infidel and the Army of Islam.

  13. D Hawthorne

    Finally! The gender pie chart shows what I keep pointing out: we don’t have a gun problem. We have a testosterone “problem”. Recently, I mentioned this to someone, and they replied that a girl had recently been involved in a mass shooting. Turned out this person was trans. Not that I have a way of fixing this “problem”, but acknowleding it is the first step in trying to socialize some of these guys better. I mean, you will always have your Billy the Kids running around, but when society in general was more polite, (socialized) and men were expected to behave a certain way, we didn’t seem to have as many of them.

    Would also be interested in the pie chart showing what drugs (prescription and otherwise) they were taking.

  14. Jb

    How does the breakdown of shootings by gun type look when you also consider the number of people shot? For example, for 5 or less shot, what is the gun distribution, for 6 or more, what is the gun distribution?

  15. Jim

    Where can I find a accurate list of how many mass shootings occurred in 2018. I see numbers posted by gun control groups that show anywhere from 280-340. I though ?I heard you on Joe pags or Hannity say the number was between 10-20

    • Vincent Kranz

      If you look in the article there is a link to the data that the charts are based on. By looking at the data, your question will be answered.

    • johnrlott

      The gun control groups are looking at mass shootings, not mass public shootings, so they are including primarily gang fights over things such as drug turf. In addition, they are including cases where four people might be wounded and no one has been killed, but we are looking at cases where 4 or more were killed.


    What is being done to address the SIGNAGE problem? Clearly the signs are not working and we need either more of them, or larger fonts. Democrat replies only please.

  17. Rocky S

    I would like to see the pie indicate whether the shooter was a Republican or Democrat.

  18. John Smith

    Your data is wrong. You mark the Las Vegas shooting as “Not A Gun-Free Zone,” yet the rules of the festival clearly banned guns. Please fix your data.

  19. Kevin P

    It’s true that the festival itself was a gun-free zone. However, the killer was well outside it in a hotel building and no one inside the festival could reasonably have detected and returned accurate fire upon the killer. So this is a “Not applicable” case.

  20. Justin Roth

    Shooter was not at the festival, he was in the hotl/casino several stories up.

  21. ejust


  22. johnrlott

    The hotel was also a gun-free zone, but the problem is that since he was firing his gun from a hotel room that was more than 20 stories up, it really didn’t provide any opportunity for people with guns to stop the attack.


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