Just a day after the midterm elections, the nation suffered another senseless, firearms-related massacre. Mass shootings are becoming an unfortunate reality in the American landscape as lawmakers and individual citizens grapple with possible solutions. But despite their grabbing headlines, just what are your odds in being involved in one?
Anecdotally, I can only say, not high at all. The U.S. has become a bastion of violent criminal activity, and I’ve had my run-ins with unsavory people. But never have I been in the vicinity of mass shootings, or any shooting at all. The closest I’ve gotten is hearing gunshots in the distance.
But according to Wayne Bivens-Tatum’s blog post on Princeton.edu, mass shootings occur at such infrequent intervals relative to the population that it’s not worth fearing them. In Bivens-Tatum’s analysis, we stand a 0.00000143% chance of getting killed in a mass-shooting incident.
As I suspected, the figure is incredibly low. The author states that this is almost a one-in-a-million chance. Bivens-Tatum goes on to write:
None of this is an argument against fighting terrorism and mass shootings or trying to stop gun violence. However, it is an argument that an abnormal fear of being killed in a terrorist attack or mass shooting in the U.S. is unwarranted, and that the fearmongering is little short of demagoguery. Yes, they could happen anywhere, but they’re extremely unlikely to happen here, wherever here is. If the goal of terrorists is to terrorize me, they haven’t won.
So what then are the odds of being involved in two mass shootings?
Is There More to Mass Shootings Than the Mainstream is Letting On?
I ask for the obvious reason that some of the victims in the recent Thousand Oaks shooting involved survivors from the Las Vegas shooting. Victims of two nation-gripping mass shootings? Again, what are the odds?
In one case, CNN reported Brendan Kelly’s story. He survived both the Las Vegas massacre and the Thousand Oaks butchery. The other case features Telemachus Orfanos, who was not so fortunate. Orfanos was a Navy veteran that survived Las Vegas but was gunned down in the recent tragedy.
To arrive at a quantifiable answer to this burning question, we would multiply Bivens-Tatum’s odds with itself. That would make an infinitesimally small chance even smaller. But when you bring in other qualitative factors, such as the events’ high-profile nature, the odds plummet again.
Not only that, we have two people who survived the Las Vegas massacre in the same bar that another shooting is about to occur? This stretches credulity to another dimension.
Sure, it’s possible to be victimized by multiple mass shootings, but is it probable? Not in the least.