US sees deadliest six months of mass killings on record since at least 2006 | US news


Slain at the hands of strangers or gunned down by loved ones. Massacred in small towns, in big cities, inside their own homes or outside in broad daylight. This year’s unrelenting bloodshed across the US has led to the grimmest of milestones – the deadliest six months of mass killings recorded since at least 2006.

From 1 January to 30 June, the nation endured 28 mass killings, all but one of which involved guns. The death toll rose just about every week, a constant cycle of violence and grief.

Six months, 181 days, 28 mass killings, 140 victims, one country.

“What a ghastly milestone,” said Brent Leatherwood, whose three children were in class at a private Christian school in Nashville on 27 March when a former student killed three children and three adults. “You never think your family would be a part of a statistic like that.”

Leatherwood, a prominent Republican in a state that hasn’t strengthened gun laws, believes something must be done to get guns out of the hands of people who might become violent. The shock of seeing the bloodshed strike so close to home has prompted him to speak out.

A mass killing is defined as an occurrence when four or more people are slain, not including the assailant, within a 24-hour period. A database maintained by the Associated Press and USA Today in partnership with Northeastern University tracks this large-scale violence dating back to 2006.

The 2023 milestone exceeded the previous record of 27 mass killings, which was only set in the second half of 2022. James Alan Fox, a criminology professor at Northeastern University, never imagined records like this when he began overseeing the database about five years ago.

“We used to say there were two to three dozen a year,” Fox said. “The fact that there’s 28 in half a year is a staggering statistic.”

But the chaos of the first six months of 2023 doesn’t automatically doom the last six months. The remainder of the year could be calmer, despite more violence over the Fourth of July holiday weekend, which even prompted Joe Biden to decry the bloodshed.

The US president issued a Fourth of July statement from the White House in which he lamented the “wave of tragic and senseless shootings in communities across America”. The president said he and the first lady, Jill Biden, “grieve for those who have lost their lives and, as our nation celebrates Independence Day, we pray for the day when our communities will be free from gun violence”.

Biden repeated his call for “meaningful, commonsense” gun control reforms including a renewed ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and an end to gun manufacturers’ immunity from liability.

“Hopefully it was just a blip,” said Amy Barnhorst, a psychiatrist who is the associate director of the violence prevention research program at the University of California, Davis.

“There could be fewer killings later in 2023, or this could be part of a trend. But we won’t know for sometime,” she added.

Experts like Barnhorst and Fox attribute the rising bloodshed to a growing population with an increased number of guns in the US. Yet for all the headlines, mass killings are statistically rare and represent a fraction of the country’s overall gun violence.

“We need to keep it in perspective,” Fox said.

But the mass violence most often spurs attempts to reform gun laws, even if the efforts are not always successful.

The Tennessee governor, Bill Lee, a Republican, had urged the state general assembly in the wake of the Nashville school shooting to pass legislation keeping firearms away from people who could harm themselves or others, so-called “red flag laws”, though Lee says the term is politically toxic. Passing such a law will be against the odds.

Leatherwood, a former executive director of the Tennessee Republican party and now the head of the influential Southern Baptist Convention’s public policy arm, wrote a letter to lawmakers asking them to pass the governor’s proposal.

He said one of his kids, preparing for a recent sleep-away camp, asked whether they would be safe there.

“Our child was asking, ‘Do you think that there will be a gunman that comes to this camp? Do I need to be worried about that?’” Leatherwood said.

Nearly all of the mass killings in the first half of this year, 27 of 28, involved guns. The other was a fire that killed four people in a home in Monroe, Louisiana.

Despite the unprecedented carnage, the National Rifle Association maintains fierce opposition to regulating firearms, including AR-15-style assault rifles and similar weapons.

Tito Anchondo’s brother, Andre Anchondo, was among 23 people killed in a 2019 mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas. The gunman was sentenced last week to 90 consecutive life sentences but could face more punishment, including the death penalty. The prosecution of the racist attack on Hispanic shoppers in the border city was one of the US government’s largest hate crime cases.

Andre Anchondo and his wife, Jordan, died shielding their two-month-old son from bullets. Paul, who escaped with just broken bones, is now four years old.

Tito Anchondo said he feels like the country has forgotten about the El Paso victims.

“I hope that things can drastically change because this country is going down a very, very slippery slope, a downward spiral,” he said.

Source link

Articles You May Like

Gun owners fire back at proposal to curtail carry rights, say they will not comply
Dianne Feinstein, California’s first woman in Senate, dies
‘90210’ actress AnnaLynne McCord, co-star Dean Cain bonded over US Constitution
Portion of Maryland’s Gun Safety Act blocked by federal judge
Gavin Newsom Signs Sweeping New Gun Restrictions Into Law

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *