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2019 Has Seen More Mass Shootings Than Days On The Calendar


In Jersey City, N.J., earlier this week, six people were killed and three people were injured after a man and a woman shot a police officer and then staged an attack on a kosher supermarket. The shocking details made national news, but other violent incidents that week did not. On December 8, three people were injured and two killed in a shooting in DeSoto, Texas. On December 12, three people were injured and one killed in a shooting in St. Louis. In fact, there have already been more mass shootings in the U.S. than there are total days in the year.

We're going to spend the next few minutes talking about gun violence from different vantage points. In a minute, we're going to talk about the growing problem of suicide in the field of law enforcement. But first, we're going to start with a closer look at the numbers. And for that, we've reached out to Mark Bryant. He's the director of the Gun Violence Archives. That's a group that tracks statistics on mass shootings and other instances of gun violence.

Mark Bryant, thanks so much for talking with us.

MARK BRYANT: Thank you for having me.

MARTIN: You know, more mass shootings than there are days - it's an astonishing number. Can you give us a sense of what the trend is here?

BRYANT: The trend is moving up. We're finding that previously we had 382 as a high back in 2016, and we're going to be over 400 this year.

MARTIN: What constitutes a mass shooting, if you would just remind us of the metric that you use?

BRYANT: We use a very clear line - if four or more people are shot or killed, that's considered a mass shooting.

MARTIN: So someone has to have been harmed in order to make it into your data.


MARTIN: Someone is either injured or killed.

BRYANT: They are either shot or killed, yes.

MARTIN: Do you have a sense that this number means anything to people? There are certain events that just reverberate long after they are over. I'm thinking, you know, in El Paso, Texas, I mean, just - people are still talking about what that meant and what the effects of that are. I know that it's an unscientific question, but I'm just interested in whether you feel that people still feel the weight of these kinds of events.

BRYANT: In some respects, yes. Now, if we go back to Sandy Hook - and there was a - just a - it felt like the fabric of the nation was torn. When we go forward to Las Vegas, that spiked for 48 hours and then went completely away. And that was tremendously a lot larger number. But it just died on the vine as far as media and everybody was concerned.

MARTIN: You know, I take note that you're not a government official. This information could be collected by the government. It isn't. I mean, you're doing this as a private citizen. Could you just remind us of why?

BRYANT: When I started this back in 2013, we were surprised that there was not good numbers. The numbers just did not exist. You could go to the FBI and you could find out how many people died two years later because they take so long to get their numbers. And then we find that even those numbers do not consist of every shooting. So we just started a system that collected everything. We thought that would be able to contribute better to the national conversation. And so that's where we started. And we think we've been very successful at becoming the standard for what the numbers are and what people are talking about.

MARTIN: That's Mark Bryant. He's director of the Gun Violence Archives. It tracks mass shootings and gun violence more broadly across the United States. Mark Bryant, thank you so much for joining us.

BRYANT: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.