Another Week, Another Wave of Mass Shootings
During a week in which the Senate considered and rejected gun control measures, America witnessed nine mass shootings that left six dead and 31 wounded.
Over the past seven days, America witnessed nine mass shootings that left six dead and 31 wounded. These attacks bring the US mass shooting body count so far in 2016 to 183 dead and 587 injured.
By comparison, Europe suffered one mass shootings over the same period of time: At about 10:30 PM on Thursday, at least one shooter killed a businessman and a policeman and his wife and wounded two guards at a restaurant in Ayia Napa, Cyprus, before being shot dead himself. This attack brings the continent's body count in such attacks this year up to 23 dead and 72 wounded.
The toll of the past week pales in comparison to the carnage of the week prior, in which Omar Mateen killed 49 people and wounded 53 more at Orlando, Florida's Pulse nightclub. That week, there were ten other mass shootings that left ten more dead and 33 more wounded.
None of those lower-profile mass shootings got much in the way of national media attention, and neither did this week's wave of killings. But by any sane standard (and in comparison to many other weeks this year), this week was still unacceptably bloody and a reminder just how urgent the need for some kind of Congressional action is.
On Monday, four gun control measures went before the Senate, each advocating either some restriction on gun sales to individuals on terror watch lists or reforms to background check policies—relatively mild reform measures that were nonetheless politically DOA.
Despite support gun control sentiment spiking nationwide and bipartisan calls for some kind of restriction on gun sales to suspected terrorists, all four measures faltered. Another attempt to float a watch list restriction yesterday appears to be stillborn as well—and even if a bill passed the Senate it would have to go through the Republican-dominated House. Despite a 25-hour Democratic sit-in protest, no measure in the lower part of Congress was even brought to a vote.
As usual, most of the mass shootings in America this week lacked a cohesive narrative, and many had no clear motive beyond, perhaps, momentary anger. There was the argument at a sports bar in Abilene, Texas, early Sunday morning that escalated into a shooting that left five injured; there was also a house party in Willingboro, New Jersey, on Tuesday at midnight that injured four more, including a 12-year-old. Another party-based shooting, this one in Berwick, Louisiana, last Friday, also injured four.
There were two drive-bys in Chicago this week that qualified as mass shootings: The first, on Saturday afternoon, injured four men standing at an intersection; the second, on Wednesday, hurt four more men sitting on a porch. On Monday at midnight, a man fired into a crowd of people on the street in Baltimore, injuring four people, including an unborn baby hit by a bullet that ripped through its mother's lower torso. A Tuesday night shooting at a Louisville apartment complex left two dead and two injured, and a shooting at another apartment building, this one in Stone Mountain, Georgia, killed one and injured three.
The strangest incident, though, was in Lacey, Washington, in which a man called police after being shot; when cops arrived they found three other people who had died of gunshot wounds. They later found a cache of meth, heroin rifles, a crossbow, and a Kevlar vest nearby.
None of this did anything to spur Congress to act on gun control. Even if they had passed, the bills under consideration would likely not have helped cut down on this sort of everyday mass gun violence. Legislation on terror watch list restrictions is is largely a knee-jerk response aimed at preventing a repeat of the specific circumstances of Orlando, not at addressing the issue of American mass gun violence as a whole. It is also unlikely that reforming the nation's background check policies would have stopped many of this week's assailants from obtaining guns; many weapons used in such crimes are often obtained illegally or quasi-legally.
The failure of Congress to respond in a meaningful way to gun violence as a whole in the wake of the Orlando massacre is shameful—as is the largely unremarked-upon existence of these lesser-known mass shootings. The only way to not just avoid another Orlando, but to bring an end to the constant stream of mass shootings like these, is to keep them in the public eye, making their cumulative toll visible and pointing out the types of legislation we need to actually address them—like reforms to restrictions on domestic abusers, to name just one change that would be more meaningful than banning terrorist watch list suspects from buying guns. We may not see another Orlando for years even if Congress does nothing, but unless something changes we may never see an end to weeks of violence like this.
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