It was a disturbingly normal spurt of mass gun violence in the United States.
Over the past seven days, America witnessed seven mass shootings that left two dead and 26 injured. These attacks bring the US mass shooting toll thus far in 2016 to 68 incidents with 74 deaths and 255 injuries. Europe, meanwhile, endured zero mass shootings over the past seven days, leaving their toll steady at just 13 incidents with 11 deaths and 52 injuries.
These figures are, sadly for America and mercifully for Europe, essentially a return to the norm, ending a particularly calm month in the US and nasty streak for the continent. But rather than a gradual rise to normal violence from a period of tranquility, this past week saw a sudden spike in American mass shooting violence. After two of the quietest weeks this year, the past seven days saw the first mass shooting deaths since the end of March, and the most injuries since the middle of that month. What's more, all but one of the incidents came between Friday and Sunday —a jarring return to the phenomenon of weekend violence clustering. Yet none of America's seven recent mass shootings, whether as individual events or a collective, swift increase in brutalism, attracted much media attention, likely due to their ho-hum nature in a nation disturbingly inured to such violence.
America's first mass shooting of the past seven days came around 2:20 AM last Saturday, when a house party in Albuquerque, New Mexico, descended into gunfire, leaving four wounded. That evening around 7 PM, an altercation between a group of men and a man in a car in Memphis, Tennessee, ended with the latter opening fire, wounding another four. Two hours later, in Anniston, Alabama, a dispute at a motorcycle club roll call led to another four gunshot injuries. Then, not even four hours later, just before 1 AM on Sunday, a street shooting in Greensboro, North Carolina, injured four more people. At 9:45 AM, another four people suffered gunshot wounds when a group of men opened fire on people setting up for a barbecue in a Los Angeles, California, yard. Capping off the weekend's bloodshed, at 6:45 PM that night, a conflict near an apartment complex in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, left one dead and three injured. Finally, on Thursday, a shooting on a residential street in Orange, New Jersey, left one dead and three wounded.
Although each of these attacks was a discrete and noteworthy horror, they likely read as nondescript to many. After all, these events don't hold a candle to the carnage or the striking narratives that come with shootings like those in Hesston, Kansas, or Kalamazoo, Michigan, in late February—incidents that set a high bar for the kinds of mass shootings that garner national awareness and empathy. It's a disheartening national calculus, to say the least.
And it's a perfectly logical response given our limited bandwidth as human beings for processing tragedies. But it's also an incredible mistake to let some events fly under the radar because they lack a significant death toll or unique plot. For starters, even a gunshot wound can be functionally or physically debilitating, meaning that attacks with only injuries are not inherently less devastating than others. More importantly though, letting a week like this pass with little coverage just helps to normalize this sort of violence.
Six mass shootings in one weekend are essentially accepted as a fact of American life today—which they cannot be. If we as a culture truly want to tackle this mass shooting epidemic, we cannot let weeks like this go by without batting an eye. We have to try to find the energy to confront all our mass shootings, and react against the horror they inspire, rather than write off all but the worst as inconsequential.
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