A courthouse shooting came at a sensitive moment nationally, only for the conversation about US policing to fall by the wayside when terror struck France.
Over the past seven days, America witnessed nine mass shootings that left 10 dead and 29 wounded. These attacks bring the US mass-shooting body count so far in 2016 to 226 dead and 725 injured. This means more people have already died in American mass shootings this year than in the 1998 bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, benchmark terrorist attacks that helped place their mastermind, Osama bin Laden, permanently on the global radar.
Meanwhile, Europe suffered zero mass shootings over the same period, leaving the continent's body count in such attacks so far this year steady at 28 dead and 94 injured.
Horror arrived on the continent in another form, however, when France witnessed yet another in a string of exceptionally brutal and arresting terrorist attacks. After a fireworks display in the southern city of Nice marking Bastille Day, the most intensely patriotic annual event in the country, Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, a 31-year-old Tunisnian-born local, plowed a truck into a crowded pedestrian area, mowing down celebrants in a zig-zagging path that wound about a mile. He also briefly fired on the crowd, although it is unclear how many individuals were killed or wounded in the shooting element of the attack. By the time police gunned him down, Bouhlel had left at least 84 people dead and 200 wounded.
The scale and severity of the Nice attack utterly dwarfs the body count of America's recent mass shootings, most of which were matters of routine violence by twisted national standards. At about 11 PM Sunday, a drive-by at a party on St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands killed two and injured three. The next day, at about 6:30 PM, a shooting at a vigil in Baltimore, Maryland, left five more injured. Hours later, around 11:30 PM, a drive-by in Jackson, Michigan, injured four more. On Wednesday, at about 10:30 PM, a dispute between a man, his ex-girlfriend, and her new boyfriend in St. Louis, Missouri, left two dead and two injured. About an hour later, a shooting at a home in Warner Robins, Georgia, left five more injured. On Thursday, at about 7:45 PM, a home assault in Crosby, Texas, left three men dead and one critically injured. At about 10:40 PM the same night, another shooting at a vigil, this one in Akron, Ohio, left one more dead and three injured. Finally*, at about 10 PM, a shooting under uncertain circumstances left four people injured in Oakland, California.
Only one American mass shooting gained major media traction this past week. At about 2:15 PM Monday, a prisoner on his way to court in St. Joseph, Michigan, grabbed a gun, shot two bailiffs dead, and wounded a deputy and civilian before being shot down himself. The incident seemed at first brush like it might be another episode of anti-police violence after the horrific attack on cops in Dallas—until it became clear this was the desperate act of a man facing hard time.
On the heels of a particularly harrowing stretch for American gun violence, from Orlando to Dallas, and in the wake of the France attack, some might be tempted to write off the past week of mass-shooting incidents as relatively insignificant. But it's worth remembering that these recent incidences of large-scale gun violence are part of a grinding epidemic with an ungodly cumulative toll, one that could well outlast Western Europe's current terrorism woes, plaguing America for decades to come.
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*This post been updated to account for a shooting in California.