Weapons and mass shootings
The Washington Navy Yard shooting a year ago that left 12 victims dead was one of more than five dozen mass shootings and spree killings in the U.S. since 1984. The shooter, Aaron Alexis, who also died, was armed with a legally obtained shotgun and a .45-caliber handgun taken from a security guard at the scene. Alexis had told police earlier that he’d heard voices, and had received mental health treatment.
Data collected by Mother Jones looking back at the weapons used in the last 30 years of mass shootings in the U.S. show that legal weapons are the norm.
From 1984 to today, mass killers have utilized 22 shotguns, 23 revolvers, 29 rifles and 77 semiautomatic handguns. According to Mother Jones, more than three-quarters of these had been legally purchased.
In December 2012 in Newtown, Conn., a 20-year-old with a history of mental problems shot his mother dead at their home then drove to Sandy Hook Elementary School. Once inside he opened fire, killing 20 children and six adults before committing suicide. Mental health issues have been noted in many of the killers, shown here at the time of their attacks.
More than half of the mass killers of the last 30 years possessed assault weapons or high- capacity magazines, according to Mother Jones. High-capacity magazines allow a gun to fire without the need to reload, maximizing damage, increasing body count and minimizing risk to the shooter. Below is a look at the numbers of dead and wounded.
Killers by age and race
Almost 65 percent of the killers were white, which is comparable to their share of the population. More than 16 percent of the killers were black, slightly higher than their 12 percent share of the population. Only 6 percent of the killers were Hispanic, well below the approximately 17 percent of the total population share. And only two, less than 3 percent, have been women.
NOTE: Mother Jones mass data contain both mass and spree shootings of more than four people. The FBI defines mass murder as the murder of four or more people during an event with no cooling-off period between the murders, and a spree killer is someone who kills victims in a short time in multiple locations. "Guns used" may include firearms belonging to the shooter that were not used at the crime scene but later recovered elsewhere by investigators. SOURCE: Mother Jones — A Guide to Mass Shootings in America, and news reports.