Anyone in Massachusetts who paid some attention to the news in 2019 likely noted the frequency of mass shootings. Some researchers define mass shootings as events that result in the killing of four or more people. Others alter this definition slightly to include deaths and gun injuries and exclude the person who did the shooting. No matter who collects data about mass shootings, researchers agree that 2019 set a record for the number of events.

A database of gun deaths built by a university and two major news outlets showed that more people died in this type of criminal event than any other year going back to the 1970s. This database attributed 210 deaths to 41 mass killings.

The Gun Violence Archive included both people who suffered gunshot wounds but survived and those who died. With these criteria, that organization counted 417 mass shootings nationwide in 2019. Overall, the archive calculated that gun violence killed 15,284 people during the year.

The problem occurs throughout the country, and shootings that took place on New Year’s Eve illustrate the extent of the phenomenon. A gunman killed two men at one New Year’s Eve nightclub party in the South with approximately 250 people in attendance. At another nightclub in a different Southern state, two young men lost their lives in a shooting. A bar in an Appalachian state was the scene of a shooting that injured seven people.

The alleged perpetrators of events like these will face aggressive prosecution. Any person accused of assaulting or killing someone has the right to speak with an attorney knowledgeable about violent crimes. Legal advice might prevent a person from making hasty statements to police that could support a conviction. Legal representation may enable someone to forge a viable defense strategy that limits penalties.