Mass Shootings
Media, Myths, and Realities
by Jaclyn Schildkraut and H. Jaymi Elsass
February 2016, 239pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-3652-7
$65, £50, 57€, A90
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-3653-4
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Despite media contextualizations of mass shootings as being “on the rise,” the odds of becoming a victim of such an event are quite low.

This book provides readers and researchers with a critical examination of mass shootings as told by the media, offering research-based, factual answers to oft-asked questions and investigating common myths about these tragic events.

When a mass shooting happens, the news media is flooded with headlines and breaking information about the shooters, victims, and acts themselves. What is notably absent in the news reporting are any concrete details that serve to inform news consumers how prevalent these mass shootings really are (or are not, when considering crime statistics as a whole), what legitimate causes for concern are, and how likely an individual is to be involved in such an incident. Instead, these events often are used as catalysts for conversations about larger issues such as gun control and mental health care reform.

What critical points are we missing when the media focuses on only what “people want to hear”? This book explores the media attention to mass shootings and helps readers understand the problem of mass shootings and public gun violence from its inception to its existence in contemporary society. It discusses how the issue is defined, its history, and its prevalence in both the United States and other countries, and provides an exploration of the responses to these events and strategies for the prevention of future violence.

The book focuses on the myths purported about these unfortunate events, their victims, and their perpetrators through typical U.S. media coverage as well as evidence-based facts to contradict such narratives. The book’s authors pay primary attention to contemporary shootings in the United States but also discuss early events dating back to the 1700s and those occurring internationally. The accessible writing enables readers of varying grade levels, including laypersons, to gain a more in-depth—and accurate—understanding of the context of mass shootings in the United States. As a result, readers will be better able to contribute to meaningful discussions related to mass shooting events and the resulting responses and policies.


  • Tackles common misconceptions about mass shootings perpetrated by and through the media and provides information that grounds the realities of such events in empirical evidence
  • Explores the history of mass shootings, both before and after the infamous 1999 Columbine High School event and shootings that occurred in and out of schools
  • Addresses common myths associated with mass shooting events by the media, such as how often and where they occur and the absence of any warning signs
  • Helps readers understand the realities of these events, including their international reach, the potential warning signs, and how evidence associated with the events can provide clues into why they occurred
Jaclyn Schildkraut, PhD, is associate professor of criminal justice at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Oswego. Her research interests include school shootings, homicide trends, mediatization effects, moral panics, and crime theories. She has published in Homicide Studies, American Journal of Criminal Justice, Fast Capitalism, and Criminal Justice Studies as well as in other journals and several edited volumes.

H. Jaymi Elsass is a lecturer and doctoral candidate in the School of Criminal Justice at Texas State University. She received her Master of Science in criminal justice from Texas State University in 2010, and she holds a Bachelor of Arts in sociology from the University of Texas that she received in 2008. Her primary research interests include episodic violent crime, moral panics, fear of crime, and juvenile delinquency. She has published in Criminology, Criminal Justice, Law & Society Review, Crime, Law and Social Change, and an edited volume.


Outstanding Academic Title, 2016—Choice, January 1, 2017


"An important contribution to criminology and the study of mass shootings. Summing Up: Essential. All public and academic levels/libraries."—Choice, October 3, 2016

"This is an important and very current topic. Forensic psychologists, clinical psychologists, counseling psychologists, and psychiatrists who work with potentially violent patients, as well as violence researchers, would find this book of interest."—PsycCRITIQUES, November 22, 2016

"As a whole, this book is an excellent introduction to the problem of mass shootings, and a worthwhile read for anyone interested in the subject. It is full of detailed information about numerous cases of mass shootings—one which provides helpful context for the varied conceptual issues discussed—such as the history and prevalence of mass shootings, research on the causal factors and prevention of these events, and the manner in which mass shootings are represented and fostered in our increasingly 'mediatized' society. Each topic is covered in an academically rigorous fashion, but the myriad examples provided throughout the text dramatically increase its readability, especially for undergraduate students and the general public. . . . Far too many mistaken assumptions and myths abound regarding the causes and prevention of mass shootings. Mass Shootings: Media, Myths, and Realities dispels many of these key distortions to provide a more nuanced and research-based understanding of the reality of these horrific events."—Criminal Law and Criminal Justice Books, May 24, 2017

"This book is required reading for anyone interested in understanding mass killing events. With a clear voice and insightful analysis, the authors break significant ground in the study of mass shootings, ultimately bringing the history, development, discussion, and prevention of such events into sharp focus."—Glenn W. Muschert, Miami University

"By writing this book, Professors Schildkraut and Elsass have provided a great service to educators, researchers, journalists, other concerned professionals, and interested laypersons who are trying to understand mass shootings. They provide historical and international contexts to debunk popular notions and have created a clearer picture of the nature and etiology of rampage shootings. Schildkraut and Elsass provide a wide-ranging perspective and a deep knowledge of the literature on mass killings. This book should be required reading."—Ralph W. Larkin, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, the City University of New York

"In Mass Shootings: Media, Myths, and Realities, Schildkraut and Elsass have crafted a highly readable and intelligent examination of both the controversies and the evidence-based conclusions regarding the character and history of mass shootings. Anyone who seeks to understand the myths and realities associated with public mass shootings will benefit a great deal from reading this book."—Jack Levin, Co-Director of the Brudnick Center on Violence and Conflict at Northeastern University
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