The Violence Project’s Dr. Jillian Peterson speaks with The Trace about the challenges of defining a mass shooting.
Taken from The Trace’s article,
“Varying definitions of what constitutes a ‘mass shooting’ also seem to have influenced coverage choices. The Violence Project, whose data has been cited by several news organizations in the wake of the Atlanta and Boulder shootings, uses a definition devised by the Congressional Research Service, which counts only incidents in which four or more people were killed in a public place with no connection to any underlying criminal activity or commonplace circumstance. The Gun Violence Archive uses a much broader definition, which The Trace follows, counting every incident in which four or more people were injured or killed by gunfire in a single location. Unlike most definitions, the Gun Violence Archive does not require that a shooting happened in a public place to be counted as a mass shooting. As a result, many of the incidents in its data refer to shootings that took place in homes and backyards…
Peterson says The Violence Project’s definition should be used carefully. ‘It’s important to be very clear about what definition you are using and why,’ she said, adding that her group’s data only reflects a narrow subset of shootings, and is not representative of gun violence in America as a whole.”