A new study has found that mass killings are not becoming more common – instead, they've occurred steadily over last decade, and tend to happen randomly.

In a study published in the journal Violence and Victims, Douglas King, a senior lecturer of industrial and enterprise systems engineering and Sheldon Jacobson, a professor of computer science, both at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, analyzed the time distributions of 323 mass killings between 2006 and 2016 and found that mass killings occurred at a stable rate throughout the 10-year period — about once every two weeks.

As both the timing and methods behind these events were found to be random, the experts say predicting them would be extremely difficult, suggesting it may instead be more useful to implement better response plans.

The team investigated mass killings as a whole, and as six different subgroups – for example, public killings versus family killings. In both cases, they found that the events were distributed uniformly over the decade-long dataset.

The researchers not only sought to understand the rate at which these events are happening, but whether the occurrence of one will indicate that another is imminent. And, the data revealed the timing between these events was what the authors refer to as "memoryless." Instead, the methods and timing appear to be random.

According to the researchers, these findings could help to guide policymakers in planning for these types of tragedies. In addition, the study could help put the events into context.

"For us to try to predict when or where these events will occur is very problematic," Jacobson said. "Spending funds on guards at schools or public spaces may not be the best use of scarce public resources. What we need is resiliency in the infrastructure so that when these events do occur, there is a plan for response."