A Quiet Week for Mass Shootings in America Is Still More Violent than Europe
Cooler weather has brought a welcome drop-off in mass gun violence, but that doesn't mean we can stop paying attention.
Over the past seven days, America witnessed four mass shootings that left two dead and 19* wounded. These attacks bring the US mass shooting body count so far in 2016 to 324 dead and 1,180 injured.
Meanwhile, Europe suffered one mass shooting over the same period of time: Last Friday night, at about 10:25 PM, at least one unknown assailant stepped out of a car near Hans Knudsens Plads in Copenhagen, Denmark, and opened fire, ultimately killing one man and critically wounding three others before fleeing the scene. This attack brings the continent's body toll in such attacks so far this year up to 44 dead and 143 injured.
The relatively low number of mass shootings in the US over the week mirrors the calm of last week, lending some credence to the idea that cooler weather can help curb the risk of large-scale gun violence by reducing the number of shooters and targets visible in public. In fact, this week was even less deadly than last, with the lowest number of mass shooting fatalities since the early spring, a welcome reprieve from so much summer bloodshed.
Also like last week, none of the nation's limited pool of recent mass shootings managed to gain any real national media attention, as most of them involved patterns of violence we've come to regard as routine. At about 4 AM Saturday, three masked gunmen reportedly shot up a 24-hour deli in Brooklyn, injuring four individuals. Just shy of 24 hours later, at about 3:30 AM on Sunday, a shooter opened fire on a large crowd of people partying outside of a strip mall in Grand Rapids, Michigan, killing one and injuring eight. Just under two hours after that, at about 2:15 AM local time, at least one unknown shooter opened fire on a group of people in a parking lot near a nightclub in Sacramento, California. And finally at about 1 PM on Thursday, a street shooting in Chicago, Illinois, injured four more individuals.
It's worth remembering that four mass shootings is still four times as many as all of Europe saw this week. Just as with last week's relative calm, it's unacceptable, no matter how merciful it may seem relative to past weeks. And chances are—given the chaotic nature of mass shootings—this calm will not hold. After all, the winter months of early 2016, during which fewer people were on the streets, still saw a shocking number of brutal mass shootings inside clubs and private homes. It also witnessed some of this year's most notorious mass shootings, like James Dalton's spree in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and Cedric Ford's workplace shooting in Hesston, Kansas, both in late February.
So rather than using the calm of the past two weeks to turn our attention away, we ought to be using this gap in coverage to advance a larger conversation about the underlying causes of America's mass shooting epidemic. It's times like these we might resolve to act with the knowledge that this spate of relative calm is farcical, hallow, and inevitably short-lived.
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*This story has been updated throughout to account for a mass shooting in Chicago on October 13.