To some, it might have seemed as if mass shootings all but halted during the coronavirus pandemic, with a year passing between large-scale shootings in public places.
But the shootings never stopped. They just weren’t as public.
The Gun Violence Archive, which defines a mass shooting as one with four or more people injured or killed, not including the perpetrator, counted more than 600 such shootings in 2020, compared with 417 in 2019.
That carnage has continued into 2021, with 147 mass shootings as of April 16. (The archive, a nonprofit organization, has counted 11 mass murders, which it defines as four or more people killed, in 2021.)
There is little consensus on the definition of a mass shooting, complicating the efforts of nonprofits and news organizations to document the scope of the problem.
The Violence Project follows the narrow definition of the Congressional Research Service, requiring the attacks to be in public and excluding domestic shootings and those “attributable to underlying criminal activity.” CNN has defined a mass shooting as one with four or more injuries or deaths. The Washington Post’s effort to track public mass shootings includes shootings with four or more people killed but does not include robberies or domestic shootings in private homes.
Whatever the definition, it is a persistent American problem. Some mass shootings remain unforgettable to the broader public because of the number of people killed, the attackers’ motivations, the apparent randomness or other factors — cases that often become known by a single place name like Columbine, Newtown or Parkland. But there have been many other mass killings that never receive the same level of attention.
Here is an incomplete list of shootings with multiple victims in 2021. It leaves out many more but offers a small glimpse of the gun violence the country has already suffered this year.
April 15: Indianapolis
At least eight people were killed, not including a gunman who was believed to have taken his own life after opening fire in a FedEx warehouse. Family members said that workers were unable to use their cellphones on the job, leaving them unable to confirm their safety for hours.
April 7: Rock Hill, South Carolina
A former NFL player shot and killed a doctor, the doctor’s wife and their two grandchildren inside their house, as well as two air-conditioning technicians who were working outside the home. The gunman later killed himself, authorities said.
April 3: Allen, Texas
Authorities said two brothers killed four family members before killing themselves. The bodies were discovered after the police arrived at a home for a welfare check.
March 31: Orange County, California
A gunman opened fire at a real estate office, killing four people, including a 9-year-old boy. The shooting was most likely related to a “business and personal relationship which existed between the suspect and all of the victims,” authorities said.
March 28: Essex, Maryland
A gunman killed his parents, two people at a convenience store and then himself in a shooting spree, police said.
March 22: Boulder, Colorado
A gunman inside a grocery store killed 10 people, including the first police officer to arrive at the scene. The gunman was injured and taken into custody.
March 16: Atlanta
Eight people, including six women of Asian descent, were killed at three spas, at least two of which had been frequented by the gunman. The attack caused particular alarm among many Asian Americans.
March 13: Indianapolis
A shooting near the city’s east side left four people dead, including a 7-year-old child, and critically wounded a woman, authorities said. The police said the shooting stemmed from a domestic problem.
Feb. 2: Muskogee, Oklahoma
Five children and a man were killed and a woman was seriously injured when they were shot at a home. A brother of one of the victims was arrested at the scene. Police said they believed that the victims were related.
Jan. 24: Indianapolis
Five people, including a pregnant woman, were found dead inside a home after authorities came in contact with a juvenile male suffering from gunshot wounds. A day after the shooting, he was arrested.
Jan. 9: Evanston, Illinois
At least five people, including a 15-year-old girl, were killed in a shooting spree in the Chicago area, police said. The gunman shot a total of seven people before he was killed by police.