Mass Shootings - ARs versus Other Firearms
93% of mass shootings involved "other" firearms; Incidents involving ARs have higher victim and fatality counts, but "Glock switches" are on the rise...
By mid-June, at least 289 mass shootings occurred in the United States in 2023, defined as single events with 4 or more victims, including fatalities and injuries. Of these, 24 were mass casualty shootings involving 4 or more fatalities. I illustrate characteristics of mass casualty events in this companion post.
The visualization above (click on Datawrapper link to see the full version) and table below illustrate incident characteristics and proportions of mass shootings committed using semi-automatic, magazine-fed “assault rifles” (AR-15, AK-47, and FBI defined) compared to “other” firearms like handguns, non-semi automatic rifles, shotguns, etc.
Mass shootings involving other firearms occur over 12x as often as those involving assault rifles, but mass shootings involving ARs have higher average victim and fatality counts. Nonetheless 90% of mass shooting victims in 2023 were injured with firearms other than assault rifles, like semi-automatic handguns made by Glock, which comprise at least 75% of stolen firearms and are used in at least 20% of crimes. A Glock 17 holds 17 rounds in its standard magazine, while a Glock 19 with a standard magazine holds 15 rounds, but can be fitted with magazines that hold 17, 19, or 33 rounds.
Moreover, a mechanism known as a “Glock switch” can be used to retrofit a Glock to make it fire like a fully automatic weapon like this.
These are very illegal, with a punishment of up to 10 years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000. Nonetheless, more people than ever (including teenagers) are getting their hands on Glock switches. A Chicago man reported he could get them for $20 in Indiana and then sell them in Chicago for $500. They can also be created using 3-D printers.
According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, the number of illegal machine gun conversion devices recovered by law enforcement agencies increased 570% during the period between 2017 to 2021, compared to the previous five years.
For an example of how a Glock switch transforms a handgun into a machine gun, watch this video from a June 1 incident that left one 14-year-old boy dead and at least three others injured.
TL; DR - There are hundreds of mass shootings committed each year in this country. They’re increasingly likely to involve handguns retrofitted with Glock switches that turn them into machine guns. These are already very illegal, so apparently the ban is not much of a disincentive. Why might that be?
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