California Mass Shooting Suspects Were Older Men—Here’s How Rare That Is

Topline

California has just endured two recent mass shootings and both suspects are over the age of 60.

Key Facts

Huu Can Tran, 72 and Chunli Zhao, 66, are the suspects of the shootings that occurred earlier this week in California in Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay, respectively.

The median age of mass shooters for data between 1966 and 2022 is 32, according to statistics from The Violence Project, a nonprofit research center dedicated to reducing violence in society through data and analytics.

A study by The RAND corporation, a government-funded think tank, noted that between 1976 and 2018, 26% of mass shooters were under the age of 25, 27% were aged 25 to 34, and 29% were aged 35 to 44—leaving just 18% for anyone over 44.

There are notable cases that involve older men, such as the 2017 Las Vegas shooting—the deadliest in U.S. history, in which the gunman was 64-years-old—but those are the exceptions.

Some of the more well-known incidents of mass shootings carried out by young male adults in recent years include the Uvalde, Tex., school shooting last May, the 2018 Florida Parkland shooting and the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting—all by men 20 or younger.

Since 2018, six of the nine deadliest mass shootings were carried out by people 21 or under, according to a database by Mother Jones that tracks mass shooting incidents.

Key Background

Though there is no unified definition of what constitutes a mass shooting, the general consensus is that a shooting that involves four fatalities or injured individuals that does not include the perpetrator is defined as a mass shooting. Since 1966, there have been 185 mass shootings in the U.S., according to The Violence Project database which does not attribute murders to any other underlying criminal activity such as armed robbery and criminal competition.

Tangent

A report by the U.S. Secret Service has revealed that half of mass attacks in the U.S. carried out between 2016 and 2020 were motivated by personal, domestic or workplace disputes. The Violence Project also notes mass public shootings occur most frequently at places of work, with the leading areas being retail, restaurants and warehouses though it notes that trends can change over time.

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