The killing of 49 people at an LGBTQ nightclub in Orlando is only the latest example of a type of violence that, despite its rarity elsewhere in the world, happens with alarming frequency in the United States. Putting mass shootings on a map can show the nationwide nature of the problem, but because much of America is very thinly populated, maps can also understate these shootings' collective impact on American communities.
We mapped mass shootings relative to where Americans live in the United States. Our analysis shows that most Americans live within 124 miles of a mass shooting that occurred within the last four years.
We used a list of shootings compiled by Mother Jones, who use a fairly restrictive definition of "mass shooting," including only (as they put it) "seemingly indiscriminate rampages in public places resulting in four or more victims killed." By their count, there have been 24 such shootings in the last four years, in which 217 people were killed.
We found that:
- 5% of Americans live within 11 miles of a mass shooting
- 10% of Americans live within 20 miles of a mass shooting
- 25% of Americans live within 59 miles of a mass shooting
- 50% of Americans live within 124 miles of a mass shooting
- 75% of Americans live within 209 miles of a mass shooting
- 95% of Americans live within 369 miles of a mass shooting
To get another perspective, we compared these shootings with America's system of 58 national parks. According to our analysis, 62% of Americans live closer to the site of a recent mass shooting than to a national park.
That is the sad state of America.
Daniel McLaughlin is a creative technologist exploring the 2016 presidential election. Before joining Fusion, Daniel worked at the Boston Globe and graduated from MIT with a BS in urban studies and planning.