Over the past week, the United States endured 12 mass shootings that left 20 people dead and 41 more wounded. That's a glaring tally, surpassing what had been the bloodiest week of mass shootings in America so far this year by 12 deaths and four injuries. The numbers bring the country's total mass shooting count in 2016 up to 34 incidents, with 49 deaths and 127 injuries.
That means four more people have died in mass shootings in America in the first two months of 2016 than died in violent jihadist attacks in the US between 9/11 and the end of last year, according to figures from the think tank New America.
Meanwhile, Europe saw two mass shootings this week: one at a club in Tyumen, Russia—apparently perpetrated by drunken patrons—and another in Nice, France, in which a car opened fire on a gated house. There were no deaths but four wounded in each incident, bringing the continent's 2016 mass shooting casualty count up to six dead and 27 wounded.
The bulk of this week's carnage stateside came from two high profile shooting sprees: one in the vicinity of Kalamazoo, Michigan on Saturday night, and another in and around Hesston, Kansas, on Thursday. In Michigan, 45-year-old Uber driver James Dalton carried out two smaller drive-by shootings, killing two and wounding one, before he killed four and wounded another in a mass shooting in a Cracker Barrel parking lot. In Kansas, 38-year-old Cedric Ford wounded at least two in three smaller shootings before entering Excel Industries, his workplace, where he killed three people and wounded 12 more.
But even as most attention has focused on these two bloody sprees, the past week was notable for the large number of drive-by mass shootings that didn't seize national attention. Last Friday, a drive-by in Vallejo, California, killed one and injured three. On Sunday, a drive-by in Hazelwood, Missouri, killed one and wounded three, while another in Houston, Texas, wounded five. Finally, on Tuesday, an apparent drive-by in Daytona Beach, Florida, wounded four more.
In total, the five drive-by mass shootings—including the incident in Kalamazoo—left six dead and 16 injured.
According to Mike Knox, a street crime expert, this spike in high-casualty drive-by shootings is most likely just an anomaly rather than a sign of some deeper trend. He says most drive-bys are retaliations between conflicting groups or individuals, and are meant to inspire fear. Opportunistic assaults perpetrated without much thought for how open or crowded their settings are, drive-bys sometimes hit no one—and sometimes strike many.
"It's more of a spray-and-pray kind of approach," Knox tells VICE. "And when you have someone shooting into a large crowd... those bullets just randomly clip [people] because the individual shooting isn't aiming. They're just making noise and scaring people" to project their power.
The way Knox paints it, aside from the two rampages in Michigan and Kansas, most of this week's mass shootings were just your average incidents of street crime that hit more bodies than usual. We could just as easily see more weeks like it soon as we might see virtually none for the rest of the year—it all depends on whether people with guns happen to be driving down a busy street when they lose their cool.
Suffice it to say, this kind of violence is rooted in chaos—and rarely commands the national scrutiny we might like.
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