Criminology and Criminal Justice

Second Major





Zozula, Christine

Advisor Department

Sociology and Anthropology




mass shootings; grief; media


As of March 2020, there have been 67 mass shootings and counting in the United States. This number is consistent with the numbers of previous years and continues to rise with each year that passes. Mass shootings, defined as an incident of targeted violence where an offender or offenders kills or attempts to kill four or more victims on a public stage within a 24-hr period, are an area of extraordinary national concern. For this reason, it is important for the public to have informed and factual knowledge about the causes, consequences, and prevalence of mass shooting events.

Using criminological theories, the thanatological literature, and background knowledge of the criminal justice system, this project strives to explain various aspects of mass shootings. First, it examines disinformation on rates of mass shootings over time, and draws on a national crowd-sourced dataset to scientifically look at mass shootings in the U.S. from 1966 to 2019. Second, it examines the primary causes of mass shootings, including personal grievances, mental health issues, associations with extremist groups, vengeance, and a concept called contagion theory. Finally, this study seeks to examine the role of the media, in any platform, in influencing public opinion on mass shootings and spreading disinformation.