Over the past seven days, America witnessed nine mass shootings that left eight dead and 34 wounded. These attacks bring the US mass shooting body count so far in 2016 to 253 dead and 868 injured. This means that more people have already died in American mass shootings this year than were confirmed dead in the Great Mississippi River Flood of 1927, one of the nation's largest ever natural disasters, which ultimately killed at least 246 people across multiple states.
Meanwhile, Europe suffered zero mass shootings over the same period of time, leaving the continent's body toll in such attacks so far this year steady at 37 dead and 125 injured. Although high by any global standard, America's mass-shooting death toll this week was routine by its own norms—as were the attacks that contributed to it. Last Friday, just before midnight, a shooting directed at a group of people outside a house party in Athens, Georgia, left seven wounded. About 90 minutes later, a shooting outside a nightclub hosting a private party in Eulonia, Georgia, left another five injured. Roughly two hours after that, a 19-year-old man in Mukilteo, Washington, allegedly opened fire on a house party, killing his ex-girlfriend and two other men and injuring a third man. Later Saturday night, at about 10:45 PM, a shooting at a block party in St. Louis, Missouri, injured five more people. The next morning, at about 2:15 AM, a man allegedly tried to shoot his brother-in-law in Austin, Texas's club district just as the venues were emptying out, and wound up killing a nearby woman and injuring four others. About 30 minutes later, the weekend's violence capped off when a mother and one of her sons and daughters each were shot dead, and another of her sons was wounded, in Miami, Florida, allegedly by the children's father.
The violence rolled into the week, as an argument between two groups of teens on the street at about 10:30 PM Monday in Evansville, Indiana, led to a shooting that injured four. Just after midnight on Wednesday, a few men reportedly shot up the front of a convenience store in Decatur, Georgia, killing a 15-year-old girl—apparently a bystander—and wounding three young men. Finally, just after midnight on Thursday a street shooting in Memphis, Tennessee, injured four more young men.
Gun crimes fueled by alcohol, ongoing gang disputes, and domestic conflicts have together become America's white noise. They may make the local news, but they too often fade into obscurity, especially this year in the face of a wild presidential campaign, the start of the Olympics in Brazil, and global terrorism concerns.
But even if each incident alone might seem somehow normal, they comprise an ongoing manmade disaster, the cumulative force of which often exceeds the worst calamities nature can throw at the American republic. The only difference is that when a massive natural disaster like the Great Mississippi River Flood—or, more familiar to most Americans these days, a hurricane—hits the US, the government takes immediate and decisive action to offer relief and prevent a repeat of the carnage. Meanwhile, citizens tend to watch the slow, grinding crisis of large-scale gun violence play out year after year, practically without batting an eye.
Occasionally, a uniquely vile horror will renew calls for gun control or better monitoring of, say, documented domestic assailants. But that government institutions continue to prove unable or unwilling to respond to the American mass-shooting plague the way they do natural disasters makes for a dire national outlook.
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