Mass shootings exert a strong influence on public policy and on public perception despite the fact that they are relatively rare. Mass shootings are defined by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) as an incident in which at least four people were murdered by a gun. In 2012, 151 people were killed in mass shootings, compared with 31,672 firearm-related deaths in the United States in 2011. Although statistically rare, mass shootings are a significant factor driving current policy debates about mental illness and gun control and they shape public views about mental illness.
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