At this writing, at least fifty people are reportedly dead and hundreds more were wounded after a mass shooting attack by Stephen Paddock during a Jason Aldean appearance outside the Mandalay Bay resort in Las Vegas on Sunday night, October 1. These numbers make it the deadliest event of its kind in U.S. history, but hardly an isolated one. In the five-plus years since July 20, 2012, when twelve people were killed and seventy were injured during James Holmes's attack at the Century 16 theater in Aurora, 1,864 incidents like it have taken place, according to online estimates.
Over the years, we've attempted to catalogue the carnage nationwide in relation to shootings and slayings in Colorado. On April 20, 2009, the tenth anniversary of the attack on Columbine High School, we published "The Columbine Effect: A Horrific Roster of School Shootings Since 1999," which used data from The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence to detail 108 school shootings over the span of that decade. A 2012 update, shared after the December 2012 killings in Newtown, Connecticut, added 73 more. Then, in October 2015, following an assault on the Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, we crunched the numbers again and documented another 81 school shootings, bringing the total to 262.
In December 2015, after shocking gun violence at a Planned Parenthood branch in Colorado Springs killed three and wounded nine, we broadened the focus of a subsequent post to mass shootings in general during that calendar year. The sum is mentioned in our headline: "351 Mass Shootings From Jan. 1 to Planned Parenthood Attack."
Calculating the mass shootings from July 2012 to yesterday is difficult simply because there have been so many of them, and definitions vary. But assorted organizations have tried their best. In the wake of Newtown, for example, the aforementioned Brady Campaign issued a document titled "Mass Shootings in the United States Since 2005" that listed fourteen such incidents after the Aurora theater slayings in 2012 in which at least three people were wounded or killed. Here's that list, in reverse chronological order:
December 14, 2012
26 people were shot and killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School, a K-4th grade school. 24-year-old Ryan Lanza, whose mother was one of the victims and employed by the school, was the lone gunman. Twenty young students and six adults at the school died.
December 11, 2012
22-year-old Jacob Roberts killed two and injured one before killing himself at a Portland-area shopping mall, which was crowded with thousands of holiday shoppers. The injured victim was a 15-year-old girl, to whom Roberts had no relation.
November 6, 2012
Lawrence Jones, a 42-year-old employee of a Fresno, CA-area chicken processing plant opened fire at his workplace, killing two and injuring two others before killing himself. Jones had a long criminal history and was on parole at the time of his death. Later reports indicated that he had been diagnosed with ‘explosive disorder.’
October 21, 2012
Two men, ages 28 and 30, were killed in a shooting that also wounded a 25-year-old pregnant woman in the city’s South Chicago neighborhood. This incident was one of many unrelated shootings that together resulted in 24 wounded in one weekend.
October 21, 2012
Radcliffe Haughton shot and killed his estranged wife Zina Haughton and two other women, wounding four others before killing himself, at the salon where she worked. Haughton had a history of harassing Zina, who had filed a restraining order against him on October 8, 2012. This order prohibited Haughton from owning any firearms, yet two days after it was approved, Haughton illegally purchased a .40-caliber semiautomatic weapon, which he used to kill three people and himself.
October 18, 2012
Three women were killed and one was wounded at a beauty salon by gunman Bradford Baumet, who later killed himself at another location. Police say he was served with a domestic violence injunction October 9, 2012, and had been scheduled to appear in court the day of the shooting.
Winter Springs, FL
September 30, 2012
Several people exchanged gunfire before a charity motorcycle ride began at a Veterans of Foreign Wars post. Shooters killed two and wounded one, and police confiscated numerous weapons.
September 27, 2012
Disgruntled former employee Andrew Engeldinger entered Accent Signage Systems, Inc., and opened fire, killing five and wounding four before killing himself. Among those killed were Reuven Rahamim, the business owner, and a UPS driver.
September 10, 2012
A still-unidentified shooter opened fire on a group of young men gathered behind a Compton apartment building, killing one and injuring two others. The gunman fled on foot, and police say the shooting appeared to be gang-related.
Old Bridge, NJ
August 31, 2012
23-year-old Terence Tyler shot and killed two coworkers at a Pathmark grocery store, early in the morning before the store opened. The victims were 18 and 24 years old. Tyler used an assault rifle similar to an AK-47 and killed himself with a handgun. He was a former Marine, and police say he might have had a history of depression and mental illness.
August 24, 2012
Eight people were wounded on a single street on the South Side of Chicago in a drive-by shooting. The victims ranged in age from 14 to 20 years. This incident was among several unrelated shootings the weekend of August 24 that wounded a total of 19 people.
August 16, 2012
Two police deputies were killed and two were wounded in a shootout in a suburb of New Orleans between police and suspects with ties to violent anarchists. The shooters were among seven “sovereign citizens” arrested, known to the FBI for their suspicious activity and radical ideologies. The group of suspects had been previously monitored, and a stockpile of weapons was found in their residences.
College Station, TX
August 13, 2012
A 30-minute shootout near the Texas A&M University campus resulted in the deaths of a police constable, a bystander, the shooter, and the injury of four others. It was said by his family that 35-year-old gunman Thomas Caffall was “ill.” The University activated its emergency “Code Maroon” to warn students to avoid the area.
Oak Creek, WI
August 5, 2012
Seven people were killed, including the gunman and three injured at a Sikh temple in a Milwaukee suburb. The FBI is investigating the incident as a “domestic terrorist-type incident.”
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The following year, 2013, National Rifle Association president David Keene said, "Today, guns are cool" — a controversial phrase that lives on in Guns Are Cool, a Reddit site that uses crowd-sourcing techniques to track mass shootings, defined by the site as an event in which four people are wounded or killed. The data collected by the site can't be considered definitive, but it's arguably the best available.
The results are dispiriting and maddening. Guns Are Cool pages for the past five years show 339 shootings in 2013, 325 in 2014, 371 in 2015, 477 in 2016 and 338 in 2017 prior to last night's massacre. And there are still almost three months of 2017 left.
By our calculations, that brings the total right now to 1,864. And while we'd love to say the deaths will end there, such optimism is impossible given what's happening at present in Las Vegas.