The U.S.A. is number one in mass shooting murders.
In 2023, the United States is on a record setting pace for mass gun killings. In the first 111 days of 2023, 88 people were killed in 17 mass killings over 111 days. The country is closing in on a record set in 2009. The shootings have occurred across the country. The shooters were white, Black, Latino, and Asian. The common denominator is guns.
Three nine-year old children and three adults were murdered at a Nashville, Tennessee Christian grade school. A disgruntled farmworker killed seven people at two Northern California mushroom farms in an act of workplace rage. Eleven people celebrating the Lunar New Year at a Southern California dance hall were shot to death. In rural Dadeville, Alabama, four people were killed and 28 wounded at a Sweet Sixteen Party. The murders were two teenagers and a twenty year old. In Bowdoin, Maine, a man murdered his parents and two other people.
The gun plague does not just involve mass shootings. In total gun deaths, not just mass shootings, the United States ranked second in the world in 2019, surpassed only by Brazil. It also ranked second in gun-related suicides. Recently, in Elgin, Texas, a man shot two cheerleaders, killing one, after one of the girls mistakenly entered his car. In Kanas City, Missouri, a sixteen-year old Black teen was shot twice after ringing the wrong doorbell. In Nashville, Tennessee, a Walgreens team leader shot a woman who was seven months pregnant in the parking lot who he suspected of shoplifting. He claims it was self-defense because he didn’t know if she might be armed. In upstate New York, a man fired on three vehicles that mistakenly drove up his driveway killing a young woman.
More than 45,000 Americans were killed by gunfire in 2020. Mississippi, Wyoming, Louisiana, Alaska, Missouri, and Alabama had the highest gun death rates per capita. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report documented that states with the highest rates of gun death also have the weakest gun violence prevention laws and higher rates of gun ownership.
The Republican Party, in alliance with the National Rifle Association and other rightwing groups, continually blocks restrictions on gun ownership. The Republican dominated Tennessee legislature just adjourned early rather than address popular demands for gun control legislation following the mass shooting at a Christian elementary school in Nashville. A ten-year ban on the sale of assault weapons for civilian use was signed into law in 1994, but has never been renewed because of Republican opposition. A 2019 study of mass shootings between 1981 and 2017 found that mass shootings were less likely to occur when the ban was in effect.
The rightwing Republican controlled United States Supreme Court has major responsibility. In 2008, ruled that a municipality could not prevent an individual from keeping a handgun in his or her home and in 2010 overturned Chicago handgun restrictions. In 2023, the Court ruled that gun restrictions could not be implemented by states and localities based on a broad claim of public interest and safety. As a result, lower courts have thrown out restrictions on gun ownership by domestic abusers and youths, the possession of homemade “ghost guns” and guns with serial numbers that were filed off.