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FBI: Mass shootings in the U.S. have nearly tripled annually since 2006

Mass shootings nearly tripled annually between 2006 and 2013, with 2012 proving to be the bloodiest year for American gun violence in the 21st century.

By Matt Bradwell
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FBI: Mass shootings in the U.S. have nearly tripled annually since 2006
Relatives and friends of Tucson shooting victims cry during the event "Together We Thrive: Tucson and America" honoring the shooting victims at McKale Memorial Center on the University of Arizona campus on January 12, 2011 in Tucson, Arizona. UPI/Kevork Djansezian/Pool | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Sept. 24 (UPI) -- A chilling study released by the FBI on Tuesday says mass shootings in the United States are on the rise, and more often than not are over before authorities have an opportunity to intervene.

According to the FBI, mass shootings as occurring when "an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated area," bloody events the Bureau says occurred 160 times between 2000 and 2013.

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Rather than decline over that time period, mass shootings spiked sharply. Between 2000 and 2006, there were 6.4 mass shootings per year in the United States, a number that nearly tripled to 16.4 mass shootings annually in the eight years to follow.

Unsurprisingly, the largest number of mass shooting casualties occurred in 2012, the year of the Aurora, Colo. movie theater shooting that claimed 12 lives and Adam Lanza's attack on Sandy Hook Elementary that killed 27 children.

All told, 557 people were wounded in mass shootings during the time period studied and 468 people were killed.

One of the factors that proves troublesome for law enforcement is their inability to respond to the rapidly unfolding events before the killers achieved their goal. Both the Sandy Hook and Aurora shootings ended in a matter of minutes -- a relative eternity before law enforcement could intervene.

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Thirteen percent of the incidents studied ended with unarmed citizens preventing more violence by electing to make "the selfless and deeply personal choices to face the danger of an active shooter."

"Recognizing the increased active-shooter threat and the swiftness with which active-shooter incidents unfold, these study results support the importance of training and exercises -- not only for law enforcement, but also for citizens."

The study did not factor in mass shootings related to gang violence, drug killings, terrorism or public suicides resulting in other casualties.

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