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At least seven people were killed in two shootings on Monday in Half Moon Bay, a small coastal community in California’s San Francisco Bay Area. In Oakland, one person was shot and seven others were wounded.
Also Monday, an 11th person died from injuries sustained in a mass shooting in Monterey Park, California, as the city’s large Asian-American community celebrated the Lunar New Year weekend.
Scenes of pain and horror are becoming increasingly familiar in the United States. In fact, in the first three weeks of 2023 alone, there will be 39 mass shootings across the country, according to the Gun Violence Archive.
Communities from Goshen, California, to Baltimore, Maryland, are reeling while others brace for the possibility of such violence in their own backyards.
Vice President Kamala Harris told a crowd in Tallahassee, Fla., on Sunday: “This is a moment of cultural celebration … yet another community torn apart by senseless gun violence cracked.” “Everyone in this room and in our country understands that this violence must stop.”
But how that plays out amid a divided Congress, vastly different policy prescriptions, and an entrenched gun culture remains to be seen.
President Joe Biden on Monday urged Congress to pass two bills aimed at banning assault weapons and bulk magazines and raising the purchase age to 21, imploring lawmakers to “act quickly.”
“Most Americans agree with this common-sense action. There is no greater responsibility than to do everything in our power to keep our children, our communities, and our country safe,” he said in a statement.
Biden was briefed Monday night by his homeland security adviser on the Half Moon Bay shooting, according to the White House.
Whichever way you look at it, it’s bad.
Gunshot wounds are now the leading cause of death in the United States for people under the age of 24, according to a study published in the December 2022 edition of the journal Pediatrics of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
From 2015 to 2020, there were at least 2,070 accidental shootings of children under the age of 18 in the United States, according to a report from Everytown. The shootings left 765 dead and 1,366 wounded.
Unequal burden. A study published late last year in JAMA Network Open analyzed gun deaths over the past three decades — more than a million since 1990.
Gun death rates have risen in most demographic groups in recent years — especially during the Covid-19 pandemic — but large disparities persist, researchers found. The homicide rate for young black men — 142 per 100,000 black men ages 20 to 24 — is nearly 10 times higher than the overall 2021 gun death rate in the United States.
Americans armed like no one elseThere are about 393 million privately owned firearms in the United States, according to estimates by the Switzerland-based Small Arms Survey. That’s 120 guns for every 100 Americans.
While it is difficult to calculate the exact number of guns owned by civilians due to a number of factors, including unregistered weapons, the illicit trade and global conflict, no other country has more civilian guns than its population.
According to an October 2022 Gallup survey, approximately 45 percent of U.S. adults said they lived in a household with a gun.
The Gun Violence Archive, like CNN, defines a mass shooting as at least four people shot, excluding the shooter.
But the definition of a mass shooting depends on who you ask.
For example, the FBI cites 2012 legislation that defines a “mass killing” as “three or more killings in one incident.”
Mass Shooting Tracker, a crowdsourced database, defines a mass shooting as “an outbreak of violence in which four or more people are shot.”
Everytown For Gun Safety defines a mass shooting as an incident in which four or more people are shot, excluding the shooter.
Lack of a clear definition doesn’t help the problem. This softness opens up space for interpreting data in different ways. For example, the conservative Daily Caller cites a definition of “mass public shootings” contained in a 2013 Congressional Research Service report that was so narrow that it identified only 78 of them between 1983 and 2012.
A 2019 research paper in Injury Epidemiology focused on this issue: “The Gun Violence Archives recorded the most mass shootings in 2017, with 346, while Mother Jones recorded only 11 cases.”
Author’s conclusion? “Finishing the definition of ‘mass shooting’ will improve the quality of the analysis done. Not only will this increase public awareness and understanding of mass shootings, but it will also introduce legislation for policymakers to mitigate the impact of mass shootings on society. coming burden.”
It certainly doesn’t have to be this way. A previous in-depth analysis by CNN found that countries that have enacted laws to reduce gun-related deaths have made significant changes:
Australia. Less than two weeks after Australia’s worst mass shooting, the federal government has introduced a new plan to ban rapid-fire rifles and shotguns and harmonize licensing and registration of gun owners across the country. Over the next 10 years, gun deaths in Australia fell by more than 50%.
A 2010 study found that the government’s 1997 buyback program — part of an overall overhaul — led to an average 74 percent drop in firearm suicides over the ensuing five years.
South Africa. After new gun legislation, the Gun Control Act of 2000, went into effect in July 2004, gun-related deaths were nearly halved in 10 years. New laws make it harder to get guns.
new Zealand. Gun laws were quickly revised following the 2019 Christchurch mosque shootings. Just 24 hours after the attack that killed 51 people, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that the law would be changed.
Less than a month later, New Zealand’s parliament voted almost unanimously to amend the country’s gun laws to ban all military-style semi-automatic weapons.
U.K. After a mass shooting in 1996, gun laws were tightened and most private handguns were banned, a move that brought down gun deaths by nearly a quarter in a decade.
But American gun culture is a global outlier. For now, the deadly cycle of violence seems destined to continue.
This story has been updated with additional data from the Gun Violence Archive.