A gunman open fired in a South Florida high school on Feb. 14, killing 17 and injuring over a dozen more. The shooting captured national attention. But it isn’t the first tragedy of its kind. Just in the last two years, there have been three U.S. shootings that were even deadlier -- in Las Vegas, Orlando and Sutherland Springs, Tex.

Are Americans being desensitized to gun violence? The 1999 Columbine High School massacre was a generation-defining moment, but the Parkland, Fla., shooting has four more victims than Columbine. And looking at Google Search trends for more recent mass shootings, it’s clear that the national attention span for these events is getting shorter and shorter.

Interest in the Florida shooting peaked the day after the event, and five days later it had dropped to 1 on Google’s 0-to-100 point search interest scale. Meanwhile, the affected students continued to lobby the state and nation for gun control.

Sandy Hook shooting

Dec. 14, 2012


chart sandy-hook

A 20-year-old who often accompanied his mother to a gun range shot and killed her in her bed, then took her semiautomatic rifle and two handguns into nearby Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. He killed 20 first-graders, four teachers, a psychologist and the school’s principal, then fatally shot himself as police arrived. A week later, Google searchers were still seeking information about the shooting.

Navy Yard shooting

Sept. 16, 2013

Astrid Riecken for The Washington Post

chart navy-yard

A former Navy reservist and IT contractor wrote that he was a victim of government mind control. He carried a shotgun in a backpack into Building 197 at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C., where he had worked for a week, and assembled it in a bathroom. Twelve people were killed in the ensuing rampage. The shooting was big news for The Washington Post and readers in the D.C. area, but interest had waned a week later.

Charleston church shooting

June 17, 2015

David Goldman/Associated Press

chart charleston

A ninth-grade dropout and white supremacist hoping to start a race war sat through part of a Bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, known as “Mother Emanuel” because of its importance in the black community in Charleston, S.C. He then opened fire on the parishioners and pastor who had welcomed him. Nine people were killed.

Oregon college shooting

Oct. 1, 2015

Michael Sullivan/Roseburg News-Review/Associated Press

chart oregon

A former student made his way through the corridors and classrooms of Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore., shooting students and professors and specifically targeting Christians, according to witnesses. Nine people were killed.

San Bernardino shooting

Dec. 2, 2015


chart san-bernadino

An Illinois-born Department of Public Health employee and his Pakistani wife, both of whom had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, began firing at his co-workers during a training session that was taking place before a department holiday party in San Bernardino, Calif. Fourteen people were killed.

Pulse nightclub shooting

June 12, 2016

Steven Fernandez/Associated Press

chart pulse

Just before closing at Pulse, a nightclub popular with the LGBT community in Orlando, a 29-year-old man who worked for a security company began shooting at patrons with a semiautomatic rifle. Forty-nine people were killed.

Las Vegas shooting

Oct. 10, 2017

David Becker/Getty Images

chart vegas

A man fired onto the Route 91 Harvest music festival through broken windows in his corner suite on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. In addition to the 58 who died, about 500 were injured.

Texas church shooting

Nov. 5, 2017

Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman/Associated Press

chart texas

A former U.S. airman, who was able to buy guns after an Air Force mistake, killed or wounded nearly every person present at a Sunday service at his mother-in-law’s church in Sutherland Springs, Tex. Among the 26 dead were nine members of one family.

Florida school shooting

Feb. 14, 2018

Joel Auerbach/Associated Press

chart florida

A student who previously had been expelled came to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., with at least one rifle and a cache of ammunition and opened fire, according to Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel. At least 17 people were killed. One week after the shooting, search interest had dropped.

About this story

Search trend data from Google. Washington Post front pages from the paper’s archives. Bonnie Berkowitz contributed to this graphic.

Originally published Feb. 16, 2018.


Most Read

Follow Post Graphics