The shooting at an Aurora, Colo., movie the­ater screening of “The Dark Knight Rises” Friday under­scored a chilling trend: While gun vio­lence has plum­meted over the decades, mass murder has increased slightly.

Shooting mas­sacres do not mirror the more volatile sta­tis­tical curve of indi­vidual gun vio­lence. Recent inci­dents — such as the shooting at a Toronto shop­ping mall in June — make it seem as if ram­pages are on the rise, but they have been a fact of life for a long time and will remain that way, said Jack Levin, a crim­i­nology pro­fessor at North­eastern Uni­ver­sity and author of “Extreme Killing.”

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