How LIkely Are You to Be a Victim of a Mass Murderer?


I doubt that many readers of H&R are worried, but the answer is: Not at all likely. Here's some of the latest data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

The proportion of homicide incidents involving two victims has increased slightly from 2.7% in 1980 to 3.7% in 2008.

Homicide incidents involving three or more victims have also increased during this same period, but have remained less than 1% of all homicides each year.

For 2008 (the latest data available from BJS) the figures for all multiple victim homicides were:

—3.7% involved two victims

– 0.5% involved three victims 

– 0.2% involved four victims

– 0.1% involved five or more victims.

In addition, overall U.S. homicide rates have been falling in recent years:

—The homicide rate doubled from the early 1960s to the late 1970s, increasing from 4.6 per 100,000 U.S. residents in 1962 to 9.7 per 100,000 by 1979.

– In 1980 the rate peaked at 10.2 per 100,000 and subsequently fell to 7.9 per 100,000 in 1984.

– The rate rose again in the late 1980s and early 1990s to another peak in 1991 of 9.8 per 100,000.

– The homicide rate declined sharply from 9.3 homicides per 100,000 in 1992 to 4.8 homicides per 100,000 in 2010.

Here's a chart of the longer term trend of the U.S. homicide rate:

Murder rate trend 1900 2010

That being said, condolences to the families and friends of the people murdered in Aurora and hope for the speedy and complete recovery of the wounded.

NEXT: Steven Greenhut on California Going Bankrupt

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  1. If you stay away from stupid places, stupid people, and stupid situations then you probably have a better chance of getting hit by lightning than murdered. My condolences go out to the victims and their families as well.

    1. Have more than 13 people been killed by lightning this year?

      1. Googling “people hit by lightning in 2012” shows at least 7 since the beginning on June.

  2. Did everyone just go nuts in 1960 – 1980?

    1. Disco related shootings.

      Also, is it just me or does the decline in murders correlate exactly with the introduction of The Elder Scrolls series?

      1. As much as I love blaming disco for everything, it really didn’t start in earnest until late 70’s.

        1. Exactly. People were murdering each other due to a dearth of disco.

          1. You know, that graph seems to line up pretty well with prohibition.

  3. Damnit, Bailey. Think about the children!!!! Because that’s all we’re going to hear from nanny-state fucktards like Bloomberg and pretty much everyone on MSNBC.

  4. So you’re saying it’s more likely that I will be involved in an FFM three-way than to be killed in a mass murder?

    I like the way you think there Bailey.

    1. Well, the average person, yes, but not you.

  5. The more relevant question seems to be “how likely am I, Trespassers W, to be a mass murderer?”

    Because the reasoning of gun-confiscators is essentially this: in order to prevent mass murders, it is necessary to disarm Trespassers W in particular.

    1. Yeah, statistics suck.

  6. Uh OH!


    This just in…our shooter may be…..on T o n y s TEAM!

    (No not that team!)

    TEAM BLUE.…..d-Democrat

    C’mon if Steffy is going to rush to judgement why can’t I?

    1. Shooting? What’s a shooting? Here’s Tom with the weather.

    2. liberals have no problem drawing the weapons-grade stupid conclusion that there is a right-wing American political movement that sanctions mass slaughter. But when the perpetrator fits a different narrative – say, a Muslim fanatic in the Army who guns down fellow soldiers, or this guy’s registration – then, it’s suddenly a one-off local matter with no broader implications.

      I don’t think this shooter is politically-motivated any more than previous mass killers. It is interesting, however, that he was protected between a vest and riot helmet. No suicide by cop attempt here.

      1. liberals have no problem drawing the weapons-grade stupid conclusion that there is a right-wing American political movement that sanctions mass slaughter.

        What if instead of a crowded theater it was in the House or Senate? I know a few people both right and left that would sanction that.

        1. I know a few people both right and left that would sanction that.

          Maybe not sanction…but there probably wouldn’t be a lot of weeping and gnashing of teeth either were it to occur.

    3. Comment from the Breitbart link:

      There is a reliable source; that there was a road and a bridge in front of the very house which James Homles lives in, so he had help from the government.

      I laugh.

  7. Boy, sure looks like things sucked during those periods of die-hard prohibition.

  8. Looks like the shooter was a Phrenology PhD dropout. Maybe he was pissed off about taking out all those loans to study what turned out to be a pseudo-science.

    1. Phrenology? Hasn’t that been known as pseudo-science for like 50 years? Didn’t Bugs Bunny cartoons used to make fun of it?

      1. neuroscience=phrenology

        Ron Bailey post

  9. Facebook as and endless source of entertainment and incredulousness: one of my friends posted that one of her biggest fears about going to movie theaters is getting shot by a mass murderer on a rampage. What. the. sweet. fancy. fuck.

    1. the “unsubscribe from..” button. Single best tool on FB. Using it has made my life immeasurably more peaceful.

      1. I’m not unsubscribing from someone providing such entertainment!

    2. FB is usually the best place during these tragic instances to get a good idea of just how insanely stupid some people can be. It can also remind you that you probably have a significant amount of friends whom you party with and have fun together yet have absolutely zero in common with from a political standpoint.

    3. Seems like a way for her to divert attention from a tragedy affecting dozens of families to herself.

  10. Yeah, attentional bias is a big issue here.

    Sometimes it seems like the media is a giant attentional bias machine, since it tends to only focus on emotionally dominant stories…

    “On his way home from work today, so and so when to the movies and nothing out of the ordinary happened” just isn’t a story.

    There must be some times when Kim Kardashian doesn’t sleep with any random brother that happens to be in the room; it’s just that the media never bothers to report on that.


    1. I, however, will continue to assume that if I can just get into a room with one or more Kardashian she/they will immediately sleep with me. That is, if I’m not killed by a mass-murderer on the way.

    2. “Yeah, attentional bias is a big issue here.”

      As I’ve mentioned to a few people, in 2010 there were about 33,000 motor vehicle deaths in the US, or about 90 per day. By that standard, 12 dead and 50 injured would be called a slow morning. But motor vehicle deaths don’t tend to make the news, perhaps precisely because they are so common.

  11. The orders are already being placed for full body scanners to be installed in all movie theaters. Of course, we will need TSA agents to operate them.

  12. How Likely Are You to Be a Victim of a Mass Murderer? I doubt that many readers of HR are worried, but the answer is: Not at all likely.

    I bet Jessica Redfield would disagree. Talk about terrible luck.

    1. What are the odds all the other people that were killed in the theater had narrowly avoided death somewhere else? Like the next installment of Final Destination.

      1. Don’t give Hollywood any ideas.

    2. Yeah, one her colleagues, a sportwriter I follow on Twitter, linked to her Twitter account–she had to coerce her boyfriend into taking her and she was tweeting about how excited she was. Total downer and I feel for her family.

      That being said, how is that there was a shooting in Canuckistan? I thought gun control is supposed to automatically prevent shootings like these through magical government fiat.

      1. It sucks. Reading about this girl almost had me agreeing with gun control. Almost.

      2. According to Michael Moore it does.

  13. This makes a ll kinds of sense dude. Wow.

  14. Gosh, wouldn’t it be just plain easier to say “it’s the guy forgetting he has the capability to restrain himself from violence?” instead of “he musta been a fan of Sean Hannity or sumpin'”?

    Then again, we know who won’t accept that little bit o’ logic…

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