By repeating the atrocity on a weekly basis so far this year, the US is on track to break a record for mass murders in 2023. Over the course of 111 days, the bloodshed claimed 88 lives in 17 mass murders. The murderers always used weapons.
Only 2009 experienced as many of these disasters in the same time frame. Students at a Nashville elementary school were shot and killed on a regular Monday. Northern California farmworkers were shot over a workplace vendetta. Dancers were murdered while celebrating the Lunar New Year at a ballroom outside of Los Angeles. In the past week alone, shots poured down on a Sweet 16 celebration in Dadeville, Alabama, killing four partygoers and injuring 32 others.
Nobody should be astonished, according to Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jaime, 14, was one of the 17 people slain in 2018 at a high school in Parkland, Florida. In a cemetery, I pay my daughter a visit. Not even outrage can begin to capture how I feel. According to a database maintained by The Associated Press and USA Today in collaboration with Northeastern University, the Parkland victims are among the 2,842 people who have died in mass shootings in the US since 2006. It uses the same criteria as the FBI for counting killings that result in four or more fatalities, excluding the killer, and it keeps track of several factors for each.
The bloodshed only makes up a small portion of the yearly fatal violence that takes place in the US. Yet a study of AP/USA Today statistics shows that mass murders are occurring at a startlingly high rate this year—an average of once every 6.53 days. When the 2023 figures are contrasted with the totals for every full year since data collection began, they stand out even more. Being at 17 less than a third of the way through is noteworthy considering that the US documented 30 or fewer mass killings in more than half of the years in the database.
Many factors from coast to coast are responsible for the violence. Domestic abuse, gang retribution, murder-suicides, school shootings, and workplace vendettas are all examples of violence. Since January 1, all have simultaneously claimed the lives of four or more persons. Nonetheless, there is still violence and resistance to reform. Congress is unlikely to reinstate the ban on semi-automatic weapons, and the US Supreme Court last year established new guidelines for evaluating the country’s gun laws, raising doubts about firearms limits elsewhere around the nation.
There is no guarantee that this year will set a new annual record for the number of mass shootings. The bloodbath decreased in 2009, and the year ended with a total tally of 32 mass murders and 172 fatalities. An study of statistics from 2006 showed that the numbers slightly exceeded the averages of 31.1 mass killings and 162 victims per year.
Recently, gruesome records have been broken. According to the data, there were 230 mass fatalities in 2017 and a peak of 45 in 2019. When a shooter opened fire over an outdoor country music festival on the Las Vegas Strip that year, 60 people died. The tragedy continues to have the highest number of fatalities from a mass shooting in contemporary America. According to Jaclyn Schildkraut, executive director of the Regional Gun Violence Research Consortium at the Rockefeller Institute of Government, “Here’s the reality: If someone is determined to perpetrate mass violence, they’re going to.” And it’s up to us as a culture to make that harder by trying to erect hurdles and roadblocks.
With a few notable exceptions, there aren’t many signs of significant policy changes in the works at the state or federal levels. Some states have made an effort to enact stricter gun laws within their own borders. The state of Michigan traditionally only required criminal background checks for those purchasing pistols, but this week, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed a new law requiring them for people purchasing rifles and shotguns. Additionally, a ban on a variety of semi-automatic rifle models was approved by the Washington state Legislature on Wednesday and is now on its way to the governor’s desk.
New pressure is being applied on other states. After six people were slain at the private elementary school in Nashville, Tennessee, last month, demonstrators converged on the state capital in the conservative state of Tennessee to call for increased gun control.
At the federal level, President Joe Biden last year signed a landmark gun violence bill, toughening background checks for the youngest gun buyers, preventing more domestic violence offenders from possessing firearms, and assisting states in using red flag laws, which allow police to ask courts to seize firearms from people who exhibit warning signs of becoming violent.
Notwithstanding the alarming headlines, there are only a small number of mass murders every year in this nation of roughly 335 million people. Furthermore, it is impossible to forecast whether the current pace of the events will continue. While other months go by without any carnage, sometimes mass homicides occur back-to-back, as was the case in January when tragic incidents in California happened just two days apart. According to Northeastern University criminologist James Alan Fox, who is in charge of the database, “We shouldn’t necessarily predict that this — one mass killing every less than seven days — will continue.” “Hopefully not,” she said.
The growth of weapons in the US in recent years, notably record sales during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, has nonetheless drawn criticism from experts and advocates. According to John Feinblatt, the head of Everytown for Gun Safety, “we have to recognise that this isn’t the way to live.” “This is not how we have to live. And we cannot live in a nation where having firearms available at all times is the policy.