After Louisville gun massacre, why mass shootings are rising in US

REVEALED The lethal truth about mass shootings: Never before has America suffered so much carnage, so quickly. Now experts tell the real reasons why… and the answers will fascinate and appall you

The shocking events that unfolded in Louisville, Kentucky, last week were so much more than a tragedy for a community, or the families left devastated after the firing ended. It was a bloody milestone for America.

Connor Sturgeon had reportedly been fired by the Old National Bank. Seemingly driven mad with rage, he opened fire on his former colleagues, killing five and leaving eight injured. And when he did so, he registered the highest number of ‘mass shootings’ ever recorded in the US in the first 100 days of a year.

The Louisville tragedy was the country’s 146th such massacre in 2023. On April 10 last year, America had experienced 126 ‘mass shootings.’

In the usual desperate cycle, we saw the police bodycam footage played out like a macabre video game. The somber police chief giving the news he dreaded to share. The backstory of the shooter. The war that rages between pro- and anti-gun lobbies reignited – and, always, the plea for answers.

Now has dug deep to get them. And what we unearthed is at once fascinating and terrifying.

Connor Sturgeon opened fire on his former colleagues in Louisville, Kentucky, on Monday, killing five and leaving eight injured. The community is pictured mourning above.

The Louisville tragedy was the country’s 146th such massacre in 2023. On April 10 last year, America had experienced 126 ‘mass shootings’


The numbing statistics have been steadily on the rise for the past decade, and they are unarguably grim and barely believable. However, they’re not always completely understood.

The Gun Violence Archive (GVA), a non-profit research database that tracks shootings across the US, defines a ‘mass shooting’ as those with a minimum of four victims shot, either injured or killed, not including any shooter.

As well as active-shooter incidents like those in Louisville, ‘mass shootings’ include accidental firearm incidents, armed robberies, familicide, home invasions and drive-bys, among others.

The GVA does not differentiate, for instance, between a gang shooting and a school shooting when they compile these statistics.

Deaths by gun are now so commonplace that ‘mass shootings’ – while undeniably traumatizing, attention-grabbing events – make up 1.1% of America’s firearm deaths in 2020. (Tragically, most gun-related fatalities are suicides).

‘It’s not [that mass shootings] are not horrific, they absolutely are, but they are statistically rare events. When you’re not offering that context, it makes everyone think that if you walk outside, you’re going to die in a massacre,’ explained Jaclyn Schildkraut, the executive director of the Regional Gun Violence Research Consortium at the non-partisan Rockefeller Institute of Government.

But mass killings are increasing. Another database, published by USA Today, tracks a much narrower category known as ‘public mass killings’. These are defined as events in which four or more people are killed, not including the attacker, and in a public place, like a school or a bank.

The most public mass killing to ever occur in a single year in America has been ten.

The Louisville massacre was this year’s fourth in the same number of months, meaning that the country is potentially on track to set a new record.


Experts told there is a perfect storm of factors.

America already has more guns per capita than any nation in the world. In the last three years the numbers have surged.

In 2020 alone, US gun sales increased by an astonishing 65% on the previous year.

The Louisville shooter’s (above) family has said he ‘had mental health challenges,’ and there have been reports he was recently informed he would be fired from his job.

The Louisville massacre was this year’s fourth in the same number of months, meaning that the country is potentially on track to set a new record.

With a dark irony, experts say this is in part due to the recent trend of rising gun violence which has prompted fear – and, in a vicious circle, seen people increasingly reach for guns as a form of ‘protection’.

But a spike in public fear is also because of the uncertain times we’ve been living through – like the Covid lockdowns which started in 2020, or the mass unrest following George Floyd’s murder in the same year. This all leads to more firearm sales.

The probability then suggests that more guns equal more chances for mass shootings to occur.

And it all creates a lethal self-fulfilling prophecy.

‘Some of those guns then get lost or stolen. More guns are on the street, there’s more crime. People get more afraid, they buy more gun rights. And the cycle repeats,’ said John Roman, a senior fellow in the Economics, Justice and Society Group at the University of Chicago.

Secondly, the type of weapons currently being purchased are more lethal than before.

‘We’ve seen an astonishing increase in the number of deadly semi-automatic weapons sold in the US in the last three years beginning in March 2020,’ said Roman.

A record 2.8 million AR-15 and AK-style rifles were manufactured or imported in the US in 2020, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

These sophisticated weapons, capable of quickly and easily firing dozens of rounds, magnify the damage a shooter can cause, as well as the likelihood that people are ‘caught in the crossfire,’ argues Roman. This drives up ‘mass shooting’ figures.

Of course, as gun-rights supporters are quick to observe, it is also true that guns themselves don’t kill people – people kill people.

And that brings us to the third reason for why mass shootings are rising so steeply.


A report by the US Secret Service, published in January and examining five years of mass violence data from 2016 to 2020, found a common denominator among attackers: often, they were plagued by personal crises.

‘Many attackers experienced stressful events across various life domains, including family/romantic relationships, personal issues, employment, and legal issues. In some of these cases, attackers experienced a specific triggering event prior to perpetrating the attack,’ the report said.

A report by the US Secret Service published in January found that a history of mental health and a recent life crisis were common among attackers.

In other words, life stressors – like loss of a job, financial pressures, family tensions, drug use, ill mental health – all have a strong bearing on whether someone may lash out in a horrific public massacre.

And the problem is that life has become a whole lot harder for most of us as of late.

Kelly Drone, research director at the Giffords Law Center (established by Gabby Giffords, who was shot by a mentally-ill man in 2011), told ‘The pandemic created a whole host of situations that made it more likely for people to experience stressors that could cause them to act out in ways that might include perpetrating mass shootings.’

‘We know that many people lost their jobs during the pandemic. It created significant strains on our relationships. It created different relationships with our co-workers, and I think all of those strains take a toll on us and can create an increased risk for mass shootings.’

While we still don’t fully know the motivations of the Louisville shooter, a source close to Connor Sturgeon’s family has told the 25-year-old was receiving professional treatment for depression and anxiety. It has also been reported that he had been notified that he was being fired from his job.

None of the above makes us forgive or forget. The expert opinions expressed above do not fully explain why these terrible incidents increase.

But it is true that there is a perception that America’s social fabric is fraying. And sadly, there may be more tragedy in store for a nation coping with the aftermath of a pandemic, a mental health crisis, elevated crime rates – and one that is armed to the teeth.

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