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2017 is already one of the worst years for mass shootings

State troopers moved flowers left in memory of the mass shooting victims at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.
State troopers moved flowers left in memory of the mass shooting victims at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.Larry W. Smith/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock

There’s still nearly two full months left in 2017, and already this is one of the worst years for mass shootings on record, both in terms of the number of attacks and the tally of victims.

The staggering statistics grew even more dramatic following the attack on a church Sunday in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Take a look:

■ Three of the five deadliest mass shootings on US soil in modern history have occurred within the past 17 months.

That includes the two deadliest ever — the case in Las Vegas last month that left 58 dead and the shooting in Orlando, Florida, in June 2016 that killed 49 people.


Sunday’s case in Texas ranks as the fifth deadliest mass shooting, according to data tracked by investigative news outlet Mother Jones that dates back to 1982.

■ Even more astounding, two of the five deadliest shootings (Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs) occurred within just 35 days of each other.

■ Sunday’s massacre in Texas means that the 1999 school shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado, which once rocked the nation, now ranks as the 10th deadliest shooting in the past 35 years. Thirteen people died in that attack, the same number that were killed in the 2009 Fort Hood massacre as well as the 2009 shooting in Binghamton, N.Y.

■ Sunday’s shooting was the deadliest mass shooting in Texas’s history.

So have mass shootings become more common?

In short, yes.

Statistics about mass shootings in the United States can vary depending on the source, because each source uses its own criteria for what qualifies as a mass shooting.

Even so all of them point to the same rising trend.

And no matter which source you look at, each shows that this year, through early November, is already statistically one of the worst, if not the worst, the country has experienced when it comes to mass shootings.


Here’s a rundown of some of the statistics. (Note some of the death and injury figures below may include the shooters themselves.)

■ Investigative news outlet Mother Jones has perhaps the most selective definition for what qualifies as a mass shooting.

Their data show that Sunday’s mass shooting in Texas brought the total number of mass shootings nationwide this year to 10, the highest number since 1982, the earliest year Mother Jones has tracked. The next-highest totals were in 2015 and 2012, which each saw seven mass shootings, according to Mother Jones.

With 26 people killed and another 20 wounded in Sunday’s shooting, that brought the total number of deaths from mass shootings this year to 112 and the number of injuries to 520, each of which are the highest totals in Mother Jones’s records.

The next-highest single-year death total was 71 in both 2016 and 2012. The next-highest single-year injury total was 83 last year.

■ Another source for mass shooting statistics is USA Today, which uses two also fairly-narrow definitions, one that tracks mass shootings regardless of where it occurred and another more restrictive definition that only counts those that happened in a public setting.

By their count, the number of mass shootings overall this year rose to 20 after Sunday’s case. That’s roughly in line with the total for each year dating back to 2006, the earliest year USA Today has tracked.


But the 10 public mass shootings so far this year is the highest in any year since 2006. The next highest total in any year was six in both 2015 and 2012.

Under both definitions USA Today uses, the number of deaths from mass shootings so far in 2017 is already at a record high.

Mass shootings overall, under USA Today’s definition, have killed 167 people in 2017. The next-highest total was 153 last year.

Public mass shootings have claimed 123 lives so far this year. The next highest death toll was 70 last year.

■ Two other sources, the Gun Violence Archive and the Mass Shooting Tracker, each use significantly broader definitions for what qualifies as a mass shooting, causing their statistics to be much higher.

According to each of those sources, last year still holds the record for the most mass shootings and the most deaths from mass shootings, in any year since 2013, the earliest year for which they have tracked the data.

But the totals for 2017 in terms of cases and deaths already rank as either second or third highest, depending on the category and source, and figures for this year are likely to move closer, if not surpass last year’s totals before this year ends.

Matt Rocheleau can be reached at matthew.rocheleau@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @mrochele