Over the past seven days, America witnessed eight mass shootings that left seven dead and 29 wounded. These attacks bring the US mass shooting body count so far in 2016 to 286 dead and 1,005 injured. That means more people have already died in American mass shootings this year than in last October's Guatemalan landslide, a massive natural disaster that wiped out entire sections of the town of Santa Catarina Pinula, leaving 280 confirmed dead.
Meanwhile, Europe suffered one mass shooting over the same period of time: On Tuesday night around 9:30 PM, two groups of people reportedly involved in illicit cigarette smuggling in Ukraine met outside the town of Solotvyno to hash out a dispute. But their argument soon escalated as a man on one side apparently drew a gun and fired, injuring four. This incident brings the continent's body toll in such attacks so far this year to 40 dead and 130 injured.
The majority of this week's American mass shootings were fairly typical by national standards: At about 12:40 AM Saturday, a drive-by at a wake in Miami, Florida, left two dead and four injured. About 24 hours later, a shooting at a housing complex in the Bronx in New York left four more injured. An hour after that, an attack at a party in Dadeville, Alabama, left five more injured. Later Sunday morning, at about 5 AM, a shooting at an apartment complex in Fayetteville, North Carolina, claimed another two lives and injured two more individuals; meanwhile, a street shooting in St. Louis, Missouri, left two dead and two injured. On Tuesday around 8 PM, a shooting in the vicinity of a park in Atlanta, Georgia, left four more injured. And finally, about three hours later, a shooting outside a restaurant in Chicago, Illinois, injured four more.
One shooting, around dusk on Saturday in Brighton, Alabama, however, managed to capture some national attention thanks to its ironic setting and heroic casualty. Two young men—Samarjay J Leshore and Brandon Moore—reportedly got into a dispute at the town's "Love Thy Neighbor" celebration in a local park, attended by at least 500 people, including many children. As things escalated, Leshore, 19, and his 47-year-old father Jimmy D Williams allegedly opened fire. Moore was hit four times; also injured were a mother, her boyfriend, and her four-year-old daughter, and a 32-year-old navy veteran and father of three, Antonio Hinkle, who'd spent all day cooking at the festival. Hinkle, who was apparently shot while attempting to shield a group of children from the gunshots and guide them to safety, died on site, while the other victims survived. A supremely sympathetic victim slain while embodying the spirit of the event that the shooters sullied, it's no wonder that Hinkle and the Brighton shooting have managed to stay in the news, with local and national outlets publishing updates on the three men charged in connection to the attack.
Focusing on evidently worthy victims is understandable—it pays respect to heroism and makes good copy, and it can bring attention to often-neglected mass shootings. But it can also minimize the human toll of mass gun violence across America. The other six people who died this week, lacking clear and catchy narratives, risk becoming innate statistics. And the more than 1,000 people injured so far in 2016, for whom no wakes are thrown and few follow-up articles are penned, can become mere afterthoughts.
But everyone killed in a mass shooting is human, their losses resonant in their communities. And while the injured may not have been permanently pulled off the earth, the physical or mental trauma of an attack can cause lasting impacts in their lives and beyond, too. Mourning the loss of 286 lives as fully as we mourn the loss of a hero is a tall order—and mourning the sometimes life-altering tragedies that have befallen roughly 1,000 people across an entire country is an even taller one. But pushing ourselves to see each victim, dead or injured, as a human deserving of attention and empathy, rather than as a pool of statistics from which heroes arise, is essential if America is to wrap its collective head around the scale of this epidemic.
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