Mass shootings — defined by CNN as four or more people shot, excluding the shooter — account for just a portion of lives lost to gun violence, according to The Washington Post. Add in domestic homicides, street crime, gang activity and unintentional and other shootings, and the number of deaths last weekend climbs to more than 120. Analysis of the Gun Violence Archive’s data by The Post’s Reis Thebault, Joe Fox and Andrew Ba Tran showed that through the first five months of 2021, gunfire killed more than 8,100 people. That’s about 54 lives lost per day, 14 more deaths per day than the average toll during the same period of the previous six years, putting 2021 on track to be one of the deadliest years in gun violence in decades. The numbers don’t include gun-related suicides, but researchers say those deaths also may be on the rise.
The Post’s analysis found an increase in shootings during summers, and police and other officials are already bracing for the coming months when schools let out and more of the country opens up as pandemic restrictions are eased. “Unless we all start speaking up, speaking out and demanding our elected officials take action, we’re going to see a lot more bloodshed,” Miami Police Chief Art Acevedo, head of the Major Cities Chiefs Association, said on CBS News’s “Face the Nation.”
Congress, though, has failed to address the issue. Modest gun-safety laws expanding background checks, supported by a majority of Americans, remain stalled in the Senate. Perversely, Republican-led legislatures in several states are taking steps to make it easier to obtain and carry guns. Texas, where the Austin shooting was preceded by a shooting Friday in Dallas that injured five people, including a 4-year-old child, is on the cusp of allowing residents to carry handguns openly in public without a permit or training. It is time for the country to treat gun violence like the public health emergency it is so that tallying up the casualties of the weekend doesn’t become just another Monday routine.
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