Yes, you read that right. The 45th mass shooting in America since March 16. (CNN defines a mass shooting as when four or more people – excluding the gunman – are wounded or killed.)
Here’s what that looks like on a US map.
Stunning, right? Sad, right? Outrageous, right?
There is no debate that we have an epidemic of mass violence committed with guns in this country. There is scads of data that make that point. Here’s one: Of all homicides in America in 2019, 73% of them were gun-related, according to data from the FBI. That compares to an estimated 39% in Canada, 22% in Australia and just 4% in England and Wales. Here’s another: The US averages 120.5 firearms per 100 residents, more than double the next country (Yemen, at 52.8 firearms per 100 people). And there were nearly 23 million firearms purchased in the US in 2020, a new record high.
“Gun violence in this country is an epidemic,” said President Joe Biden a week ago in announcing a series of executive orders on guns. “And it’s an international embarrassment.”
There’s also very little disagreement – in terms of the general public – that there are things we should (and could) be doing to address this problem. A Quinnipiac University national poll released this week showed that 89% of Americans support requiring background checks for all gun buyers. Three-quarters back so-called “red flag” laws. A majority (51%) even support an assault weapons ban!
And yet, despite all of that, Congress continues to drag its feet on passing any sort of gun control measures.
“They’ve offered plenty of thoughts and prayers, members of Congress, but they have passed not a single new federal law to reduce gun violence,” Biden said a week ago. “Enough prayers, time for some action.”
In the wake of the Indianapolis shooting, Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy (D), who has taken the lead in seeking to craft common sense compromise gun legislation, tweeted this:
“When Congress does absolutely nothing, shooting after shooting, we become complicit in this slaughter. Our silence has been interpreted as endorsement.
“Now is the moment for Democrats and Republicans to come together and pass a bill that will save lives.”
It’s not at all clear whether Murphy’s call to action will be heeded. Republicans in the Senate remain opposed to subjecting private gun sales to background checks – among other issues they have with gun measures floating around the chamber.
What is crystal clear – no matter what party you belong to or whether you own a gun or not – is that 45 mass shootings in the space of a month means that we have a problem in this country. A problem that our government needs to find ways to address.