US Mass public shootings since Columbine: victims per incident by race and ethnicity of the perpetrator

Patricia I. Jewett, Ronald E. Gangnon, Iris W. Borowsky, Jillian Peterson, Eunice M. Areba, Andrew Kiragu, James Densley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


White individuals in the United States (US) have historically had disproportionate access to firearms. The real-life availability of firearms, including those most lethal, may still be greater among White populations, manifesting in the number of victims in shootings. We compared the severity of US mass public shootings since Columbine by race and/or ethnicity of the perpetrator using The Violence Project Database of Mass Shooters, assessing fatalities (minimum four), total victims, type, and legal status of guns used. We used data visualization and Quasi-Poisson regression of victims minus four – accounting for truncation at 4 fatalities – to assess fatality and total victim rates comparing Non-Hispanic (NH) White with NH Black shooters, using winsorization to account for outlier bias from the 2017 Las Vegas shooting. In 104 total mass public shootings until summer 2021, NH White shooters had higher median fatalities (6 [IQR 5–9] versus 5 [IQR 4–6]) and total victims (9 [IQR 6–19] versus 7 [IQR 5–12]) per incident. Confidence intervals of NH Black versus NH White fatalities rate ratios (RR) ranged from 0.17–1.15, and of total victim RRs from 0.15–1.04. White shooters were overrepresented in mass public shootings with the most victims, typically involving legally owned assault rifles. To better understand the consequences when firearms are readily available, including assault rifles, we need a database of all US gun violence. Our assessment of total victims beyond fatalities emphasizes the large number of US gun violence survivors and the need to understand their experiences to capture the full impact of gun violence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number107176
JournalPreventive medicine
StatePublished - Sep 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors. Data used in this study came from The Violence Project Database of Mass Shooters which was supported by the National Institute of Justice (Award #: 2018–75-CX-0023 ).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Elsevier Inc.


  • Characteristics of mass shooters
  • Community violence
  • Gun violence survivors
  • Lethal firearm availability
  • Mass public shootings


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