Over the past seven days, there have been seven mass shootings in America. Meanwhile, none have been reported in Europe. The streak of shootings in America, which clustered around the past weekend, claimed eight lives and wounded 37 more—the highest number of incidents and greatest tally of total casualties in a week this year, breaking the relative calm that had defined 2016 thus far.
Disturbingly, the bulk of this past week's carnage—five deaths and 22 injuries—stemmed from just three incidents in Orlando and Tampa, Florida, and Rochester, New York. All were at night spots, which raises questions about club safety but ultimately should not lead you to panic about going out this weekend.
The first shooting came at a Tampa strip joint around 2 AM on Saturday morning, where one person was killed on the scene and seven more sustained gunshot wounds—one of whom later perished in the hospital. The second hit Orlando's popular Glitz Ultra Lounge, where about 300 people were in attendance, at 1 AM on Sunday morning, killing two and injuring nine. The third came just an hour later at Rochester's Mexican Village Night Club, where 40 people were present by the time police arrived; that incident saw one killed and seven hurt. The Orlando incident in particular, which drew heavy media attention thanks to the number of spectators and the presence of three off-duty cops working security on the scene, highlights the potential for brutality when someone pulls a gun in a packed venue.
Chris McGoey, a security expert who's been in the consulting game for 33 years, says that when a gun is fired in or near a club, it can easily strike several people. But he believes shootings inside these venues are actually rare events thanks to the use of pat-downs and metal detectors at the doors of spots with a history of violence.
"Most of the shootings that I'm aware of… occur outside, in the parking lot," McGoey tells VICE, adding that they seem to happen just before or after closing, when people are often at peak intoxication.
Last weekend's shootings, McGoey stresses, ought to be viewed as an anomaly. But he concedes that when shootings like this do happen, there's not much security guards can do except duck and cover, call the police, and try to stay alive—just like everyone else. "In the instant of a gun being fired," he says, "everything [preventative] that could have been done, should have been done, has already happened."
These shootings don't mean that you should start avoiding nightclubs. Still, the spate does show how much damage can be done when the best security practices either fail or aren't followed—and how easily even a single fluke can lead to tragedy in America's gun culture.