By Maya Rhodan
September 24, 2014

Mass shootings have increased steadily in the U.S. in recent years, a new study by the FBI found.

The FBI identified 160 “active shootings” in the past seven years, which are defined as incidents in which an individual killed or attempted to kill people in a confined or populated area. The study looked reported shootings between 2000 and 2013. The data, released Wednesday, showed that from 2000 to 2007, there was an average 6.4 active shooter incidents per year. From 2007 to 2013, however, the rate of incidences more than doubled, with an average of 16.4 events annually.

All of the deadliest mass shootings — including the tragedies of Aurora, in Colorado; Virginia Tech; Fort Hood, in Texas; and Sandy Hook, in Connecticut — occurred during that period. About 64 of the events tallied were identified as “mass killings,” given that three or more people died in a single event.

Though the study was not designed to identify motive in the incidences, it did reveal a number of “shooter characteristics.” According to the FBI, the mass shootings were carried out by one person in all but two incidents; the vast majority of school shootings were carried out by students, and only six of all the shooters were women.

The study’s authors noted that the data should be used to help aid law-enforcement agents and the public in responding to such incidents, which have occurred in 40 out of 50 states and D.C. Though proper police response can save more lives, about 60% of the incidents studied were over before officers even arrived on the scene. The shootings in the study resulted in 1,043 people who were killed or wounded.

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