According to a recent report on mass shootings by the New York-based Rockefeller Institute, handguns are used almost three times more often than rifles. Handguns were the weapon of choice for three-quarters of the shootings from 1966 to 2016, while only 28.5 percent of shooters used rifles.
In about a third of cases, such as the recent shooting in Santa Fe, Texas, the gunman carried one of each.
These statistics may be surprising to those who believe that rifles are a common weapon choice for shootings.
Robert J. Spitzer, a political science professor at SUNY Cortland, said the use of rifles has been on the rise and such incidents often end in a greater number of deaths.
One example he used was last year’s Las Vegas shooter, who “would not have been able to do what he did with a couple of handguns.”
Second Amendment supporters argue that this study shows that creating stricter laws, specifically regarding semiautomatic rifles, would be ineffective in controlling already-illegal shootings.
“Given that the left is on a jihad to demonize the fictional ‘assault weapon,’ it was refreshing to see the Rockefeller report set the record straight on handguns,” said Erich Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America.
This was the first report from a regional gun violence research consortium that was organized earlier this year by the governors of New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Delaware and Puerto Rico.
The governors have not been answering questions regarding the report. However, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D-N.Y., posted a link to the report, commenting that the group is “supporting critical research to better understand mass shootings and how to prevent them.”
New York and the members of States for Gun Safety are supporting critical research to better understand mass shootings and how to prevent them.
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) May 22, 2018
Since this is the group’s first study, there is clearly more to research when it comes to mass shootings.
“By working together with like-minded states, we can take strides toward understanding the root causes of violence and determine the most effective strategies to prevent all forms of gun violence — not just mass shootings,” Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy said.
The study covered basic information from mass shootings and trends over the past 50 years.
The definition of “mass shooting” used was “an incident of targeted violence carried out by one or more shooters at one or more public or populated locations. Multiple victims (both injuries and fatalities) are associated with the attack, and both the victims and location(s) are chosen either at random or for their symbolic value. The event occurs within a single 24-hour period, though most attacks typically last only a few minutes. The motivation of the shooting must not correlate with gang violence or targeted militant or terroristic activity.”
Based on this definition, there have been 340 mass shootings in the past 50 years with a total of 2,526 victims. About 57 percent occurred at a workplace or school.
Ninety-six percent of the shooters were male and the average age was 33.4 years old.
Over half of the shooters were white, while about a quarter were black, 9 percent were Hispanic, and 4 percent Asian.
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