Early in the morning of July 4, US Independence Day, President Joe Biden called this day an occasion to “glorify the good of our country.”
The Fourth of July is a sacred day in our country, a time to celebrate the goodness of our people, the only people on Earth founded on the idea that all people are created equal.
Make no mistake, our best days are yet to come.
— President Biden (@POTUS) July 4, 2022
Less than an hour after the president’s tweet at 9:25 a.m. Washington time, a gunman opened fire from a rooftop on a crowd of spectators who had gathered for a July 4th parade in suburban Chicago. He killed seven people and wounded dozens.
Monday’s shooting in Highland Park, Illinois, sent a fresh shock through the country, which has already been rocked this year by the Uvalde High School massacre in Texas and the supermarket massacre in Buffalo. , In New York .
The notion that mass shootings are becoming more frequent is correct, according to an analysis by the Marshall Project, a media outlet that specializes in reporting on crime and justice.
According to one of the most conservative definitions of “mass shootings”, which refers to the killing by an armed person of four or more strangers in a public place, the number of such acts has increased in recent years. recent years along with the dead.
Mass shootings represent only a small fraction of the number of daily gun deaths in the United States, where about 124 people die each day from firearms.
More mass shootings than ever
Our analysis is based on data from the Violence Project, a nonprofit research group that chose the narrow definition of mass shootings adopted by the Congressional Research Service, which advises lawmakers.
There were 31 such massacres between 2017 and 2021, compared to 24 between 2012 and 2016, according to the Violence Project. We compared five-year periods so we can measure trends over time rather than focusing on the decline to two incidents in 2020, which researchers attributed to the lockdown of the COVID-19 pandemic, or the spike caused by the 2017 Las shooting. Las Vegas, where 58 people died. There have been more mass shootings in the past five years than in any other period as long as there are comparable records. That is, since 1966.
The Violence Project defines mass shootings as single incidents in which four or more people (not counting the shooter) are killed in public places such as schools, shops or workplaces. It excludes murders committed as a result of domestic violence or in the course of another crime such as armed robbery or gang violence.
By this definition, there were four mass shootings in 2022: Highland Park, Uvalde, Buffalo, and Tulsa, Oklahoma, where a gunman broke into a doctor’s office at a hospital, killing four people before taking their lives. The incident rate indicates that in this year, the trend is the same as the previous year, when, according to this definition, there were six mass shootings.
Just as mass shootings in the United States have reached a record number, so has the number of dead and injured. Between 2017 and 2021, gunmen killed 299 people, about a third more than 221 in the previous five-year period. There were five times more wounded.
Much of the increase in deaths and injuries is due to the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, which took place in 2017 at the Las Vegas Music Festival. A man armed with multiple machine guns killed 58 people. According to the Violence Project, another 887 people were injured, many of them in a stampede. But even without taking into account the massacre in Las Vegas, the number of dead and injured in the past five years has remained higher than in previous ones.
The July 4 mass shooting was the fourth killing in less than three months. According to police sources, in all four cases, the perpetrators of the massacres used large-caliber weapons. Last month, President Biden signed into law the most important gun safety measure in decades, although the new law does not include a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, a provision that Biden and the Democrats wanted to include.
What is a mass shooting?
Our analysis shows that over the past five years, assault weapons have been used in almost half of all mass executions. In the previous five years they had been used in a third of executions.
There is no national legal definition of “mass shooting”. Various organizations track mass shootings, but use different criteria: some only count incidents in which three or more people died; others measure actions in which at least four people are killed or injured.
Jacob Kaplan, a forensic scientist at the School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University, notes that the lack of consensus on the definition of “mass shooting” leads to confusion when discussing this problem, not to mention trying to solve it.
“If you have one definition of a mass shooting and I have another, it becomes difficult to even start a conversation,” says Kaplan. “It’s not that one of them is right and the other is wrong. You just have to be precise. And this is what is lost in the media and, of course, in political debates,” he notes.
Some researchers insist on the importance of including both the wounded and the dead when analyzing mass shootings. Jacqueline Schildkraut, professor of criminal justice at the State University of New York at Oswego, says more victims have been injured than killed in recent years due to faster responses from police and emergency services, as well as medical advances. Schildkraut is Interim Director of the Regional Gun Violence Research Consortium based at the Rockefeller Institute of Management, a public policy think tank based in Albany, New York.
Schildkraut defines a mass shooting as an action in a public place with multiple victims, either injured or dead, and the author targets the victims randomly or “because of their symbolic value” such as black worshipers. By this definition, there were 402 mass shootings between 1966 and 2020, resulting in 3,590 people being killed or injured, a figure that has increased dramatically in recent years. More than half of those shootings, 219, took place in the workplace or at the perpetrator’s school.
One of the deadliest years
The Archives of Gun Violence, an independent research group, uses a broad definition of a mass shooting: an act in which four or more people, not including the perpetrator, are killed or injured. Includes shootings related to gang activity, street fights, or domestic violence.
The group counted 2,403 mass shootings between 2017 and 2021, resulting in 2,495 deaths and 10,225 injuries. These groups show a sharp increase in recent years, with 692 mass shootings in 2021, up 66% from 417 in 2019.
The group counted 318 mass shootings as of 3:00 pm on 5 July. As such, 2022 will be one of the deadliest years since the group began tracking these crimes in 2014.
Like Project Violence, the Everytown for Gun Safety initiative defines a mass shooting as an incident in which four or more people are killed by a firearm, excluding the shooter. Everytown counts incidents that “occur in both public and private settings, regardless of the number of attackers, and are the result of a wide variety of motives such as gang violence, domestic violence, or terrorist violence.” The group counts 110 incidents in the past five years, compared to 96 between 2012 and 2016.
The FBI tracks so-called “active gunmen”: one or more individuals actively committing murders with firearms or attempting to kill people in a community. These cases have almost doubled since 2017 to 61 incidents in 2021, which left 103 people dead and 140 injured.
This article was published in collaboration with the Marshall Project, a non-profit media outlet covering the American criminal justice system.
Translated by Emma Reverter
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