US ends year with 650 mass shootings, about two a day, second worst number since 2014

 The United States ends 2023 with 650 mass shootings, about two a day, the second worst number since the Gun Violence Archive began collecting data in 2014.

The GVA is a nonprofit project that collects data from local newspapers and police departments to create a national database on gun violence, and it defines mass shootings as those in which at least four people are injured or killed in a single incident, not including the perpetrator.

Only 2021 had a worse final number than this year, finishing with 690 mass shootings, while in 2002 the number dropped to 647, rising again slightly this year.

120.5 firearms per 100 people

The reason mass shootings continue to occur is simple: there are more firearms than people in the United States.

Specifically, there are about 120.5 firearms per 100 residents, according to the Swiss research organization Small Arms Survey, which estimated in 2018 that there were 390 million firearms in circulation in the US.

The problem has worsened in recent years, especially in the wake of the pandemic, Kelly Drane, a researcher at the Giffords organization, named after former Arizona congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who was seriously wounded in a 2011 shooting while she was still in office, told EFE.

“We saw an increase in gun purchases during the pandemic, in 2020 and also in 2021. We saw that many people who did not have guns before acquired them, which means that more US households have guns compared to previous years,” Drane said.

Maine, scene of the deadliest shooting of 2023

The deadliest shooting of 2023 took place in October in Lewiston, Maine’s second-largest city, where an Army reservist killed 18 people and wounded 13 others when he opened fire first at a bowling alley where a children’s tournament was being held and then at a restaurant.

The gunman, Robert Card, 40, suffered from mental problems and was found dead after a three-day manhunt, having committed suicide in a truck near a recycling plant where he had recently worked.

A gunman also claimed the lives of 11 people celebrating the Lunar New Year on January 21 at a dance hall in Monterey Park, a suburb of Los Angeles with a largely Asian population. Just two days later, another shooting in Half Moon Bay, California, resulted in seven deaths.

In March, a transgender man walked into his former school in Nashville, Tennessee, and killed three nine-year-old children and three adults. In April, a former bank teller killed five bank employees in Louisville, Kentucky, and in May, eight people were killed in a shooting at a shopping mall in Allen, Texas.

Little political will

The brutality of mass shootings often leads to attempts to reform the laws governing the right to keep and bear firearms, which is protected by the Second Amendment to the US Constitution. However, these efforts rarely result in meaningful change.

In 2022, the horrific massacre at the Uvalde school in Texas, where 19 students and two teachers lost their lives, led the US Congress to pass the most significant gun control legislation in three decades.

For many, however, the legislation does not adequately address a crucial element of the shootings: assault rifles, such as the AR-15, which are designed as weapons of war and allow a person to continue firing without stopping to reload.

US President Joe Biden has consistently called for a new ban on assault rifles, which were banned between 1994 and 2004. However, he has faced near-unanimous opposition from the Republican caucus that currently controls the House of Representatives.

However, the most influential stakeholder in this debate is the National Rifle Association, which contributes financially to political campaigns of members of Congress and even presidential candidates to ensure that no legislation is passed to tighten gun control.

In the 2016 and 2020 elections, the NRA supported Donald Trump, president between 2017 and 2021, and who now starts as a favorite to become the Republican candidate and face Biden in next year’s elections.

By Usmana kousar