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The places change, the numbers change, but the choice of weapon remains the same. In the United States, people who want to kill a lot of other people most often do it with guns.

Public mass shootings account for a tiny fraction of the country’s gun deaths, but they are uniquely terrifying because they occur without warning in the most mundane places. Most of the victims are chosen not for what they have done but simply for where they happen to be.

There is no universally accepted definition of a public mass shooting, and this piece defines it narrowly. It looks at the public shootings in which four or more people were killed, usually by a lone shooter. It does not include shootings tied to robberies that went awry, and it does not include domestic shootings that took place exclusively in private homes. A broader definition would yield much higher numbers.

Public mass shootings are a small slice of gun deaths

Source: Gun Violence Archive. Excludes the roughly 22,000 annual gun suicides, which are not publicly reported in real time.

This tally begins Aug. 1, 1966, when a student sniper fired down on passersby from the observation deck of a clock tower at the University of Texas. By the time police killed him, 17 other people were dead or dying. As Texas Monthly’s Pamela Colloff wrote, the shooting “ushered in the notion that any group of people, anywhere — even walking around a university campus on a summer day — could be killed at random by a stranger.”

Search for details of a particular shooting. The most recent is selected.

1,322 killed

The people who were killed came from nearly every imaginable race, religion and socioeconomic background. Their ages range from the unborn to the elderly; were children and teenagers. In addition, thousands of survivors were left with devastating injuries, shattered families and psychological scars.

ClickTap on an icon for details about each victim.