There have been three high-profile shootings throughout the nation in one week: The shooting in Gilroy, Calif., on July 28, after which the back-to-back shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, this past weekend.
That is no surprise, say scientists who research mass shootings. The analysis shows that these incidents normally occur in clusters and are usually contagious. Intensive media coverage appears to drive the contagion, the researchers stated.
Back in 2014 and 2015, researchers at the University of Arizona State investigated data on cases of mass violence. They included the USA Today’s data on mass killings (outlined as four or more people killed utilizing any means, together with guns) from 2006 to 2013, data on school shootings between 1998 and 2013, and mass shootings (outlined as incidents by which three folks had been shot, not killed) between 2005 and 2013 collected by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
The lead researcher, Towers, a faculty analysis associate at the University of Arizona State, had spent most of her career modeling the spread of infectious diseases — like influenza, Ebola, and sexually transmitted diseases. She needed to know whether or not cases of mass violence spread contagiously, like in a disease outbreak.
So, she plugged each information set into a mathematical model.
“What we discovered was that for the mass killings — so these are high-profile mass killings where there are at least four folks killed — there was an important proof of contagion,” says Towers. “We additionally discovered vital proof of contagion in the school shootings.”
In other words, school shootings and other shootings with four or more deaths spread like a contagion — every shooting tends to spark more shootings.