Over the past seven days, America has seen three mass shootings, all of which occurred last weekend. The violence left three dead and ten wounded.
In the first shooting on Saturday evening, a domestic dispute in which a man apparently shot his wife to death in Woodbridge, Virginia, escalated when he allegedly opened fire on responding cops, killing one and wounding two. In the second, police investigating a shooting call early Sunday morning found four men shot in a parking lot in Jurupa Valley, California, one of whom later succumbed to his injuries. In the third, an altercation involving a patron at a Detroit strip club late Sunday escalated when the ejected man returned with a gun, shooting five individuals, including a female performer he'd allegedly tried to touch inappropriately.
These tragedies bring the tally of mass shootings in America in 2016 up to 36 incidents, which have caused 52 deaths and 137 injuries.
By most standards, three mass shootings with 13 casualties in a week is a bloody toll. Europe, by comparison, had zero such incidents this week—and has had only seven mass shootings that left six dead and 27 injured this year. But by American standards, this qualifies as a mercifully calm week. It's not the least violent week of 2016; the week bridging the end of January and beginning of February saw just one mass shooting in the US, with only four injuries. But compared to last week, which saw 12 shootings (including two high-profile random public rampages) that left 20 dead and 41 wounded—over six times as many deaths and over four times as many injuries as Americans experienced this week—the contrast is a stark one.
There's probably no rhyme or reason for this "lull." Experts have noted in VICE's previous coverage of mass shootings how random they are; the types of shooting situations that usually lead to mass casualties can wound almost no one or large groups—depending on a host of incidental factors. We may have been one block, one hour, or one argument away from a much deadlier or a completely bloodless week. It all depends on the vagaries of or around an individual with a gun, which are all but impossible for observers or officers to predict or control in favor of peace.
All Americans can do is embrace a respite from last week's more serious mass violence. Yet observers ought not allow this comparative calm to dull their awareness of the obscene scale and frequency of mass shootings in the United States. The fact that Americans now have to consider 13 senseless mass shooting casualties (relatively) palatable is appalling—especially given the example offered by our European counterparts.
Rather than tune out, America might best use this refractory period to meditate on the difference between a calm week here and a standard week in Europe—and the ways in which we might learn to mirror that continent's consistently lower mass shooting casualties.
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