AS 2019 draws to a close, statistics show the United States has seen the highest number of annual mass killings since records began, putting gun control back up the agenda on the American presidential campaigns.

How many people died?

Across 41 incidents, 211 people died in 2019, according to the latest database compiled by Northeastern University in Boston, USA Today and the Associated Press.

What makes a ‘mass killing?’

The researchers involved defined it as an incident where four or more people were killed, excluding the perpetrator.

It is the most recorded?

The 41 mass killings are the most recorded in one year since the database began in 2006, although other research dating back to the 1970s features no other year with as many mass killings. The second-most mass killings in a year was in 2006 when there were 38 incidents. 

But it’s eclipsed by 2017?

The 211 people killed in this year’s 41 cases is still eclipsed by the 224 victims in 2017, when the deadliest mass shooting in American history took place in Las Vegas, resulting in the high death toll of 58 from one incident alone.


They were the weapon used in all but eight of the mass killings. Others included knives, axes and deliberate fires.

Not all events were random?

The first mass killing of the year in the US saw a 42-year-old man use an axe to stab his mother, stepfather, girlfriend and nine-month-old daughter to death in Oregon. Looking at the database for the year overall, 17 other mass killings involved family members being slain.

It’s at the forefront of 2020 campaigning?

Former Vice President Joe Biden, who is in the race for the democratic Presidential candidacy for 2020, sent out a funding email at the weekend, calling for “strength and resolve to get something done” but his gun violence plan to "pursue constitutional common-sense gun safety policies", does not go as far as the other Democratic candidates. 

What do they propose?

Elizabeth Warren has put forward a federal licensing system, which would require everyone in the US to have a license to buy and own a firearm - Biden is suggesting financial incentives only for states who adopt licensing, which they are not obliged to do.


He said in August that "We don't want people whoa re mentally ill, people who are sick - we don't want them having guns", but aides say he is not planning any announcements on gun legislation imminently.

In the UK?

Mass shootings are uncommon in the UK where there is strict gun control. The most recent mass killings were terror-related, including the London Bridge attack in 2017 where eight people were killed and the Manchester Arena bombing in the same year, in which 22 people died.

It's a sign of the times?

James Densley, a criminologist and professor at Metropolitan State University in Minnesota, said the number of events are a by-product of an “angry and frustrated time”, adding that “This seems to be the age of mass shootings”.