Sunday editorial: More carnage means more nothing
It’s shocking how many websites and publications keep track of mass shootings in the United States. There are lists, sobering lists, going back to tragic events such as Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech and Columbine — and those are just infamous school shootings and only some of the many benchmarks from where you can start counting.
Americans know the carnage also happens at churches, nightclubs, concerts and workplaces, to name a few others. We’ve long become desensitized to it. We blame the usual suspects such as the National Rifle Association, Congress, deficient mental health efforts, gunmakers, liberals, law enforcement, the media and society in general. Then we move on, knowing more mass shootings are to come and we’ll do the same thing again, which is nothing.
The mass shooting lists grew longer this past week with the addition of 17 killed, 15 wounded at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Pompano Beach, Florida. Once again, a troubled man with a lot of firepower — this time, an AR-15 assault rifle — found justification in walking through a school and opening fire.
You might be surprised, but one of the websites that tracks mass shootings considers Wednesday’s mayhem in Florida as the 30th mass shooting up to that point in 2018. That’s 30 mass shootings in 45 days.
Gun Violence Archive (www.gunviolencearchive.org/reports/massshooting) is a non-profit corporation formed in 2013 to provide free online public access to accurate information about gun-related violence in the United States.
GVA defines a mass shooting as four or more people shot and/or killed in a single event, at the same general time and location and not including the shooter. So at least 30 different times already in the United States this year, gun violence that met this “mass shooting” definition has occurred.
In terms of gun violence overall, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Consider these U.S. gun violence statistics for the first 45 days of 2018:
• Total number of gun violence incidents: 6,608.
• Number of deaths: 1,832.
• Number of injuries: 3,161.
• Number of children (0-11) killed or injured: 69.
• Number of teens (12-17) killed or injured: 347.
• Unintentional shootings: 215.
• Officers shot or killed: 39.
• Suspects shot or killed by officers: 294.
In 2014, there were 12,556 shooting deaths; in 2015, 13,515; in 2016, 15,094; and in 2017, 15,590. It looks as though we’re still on that upward trend this year, and that all the lip disservice we’ve paid to this problem is having no positive results.
On the front page of today’s Insight section, you can read a letter from Mohammad Abu-Salha whose two daughters and son-in-law were killed execution-style by a Chapel Hill neighbor with a gun who didn’t like that they were Muslim. Abu-Salha vividly describes what happens when hate combines with guns.
“The only way that we can fight back against the violence is in the same way our children lived their lives — with love and kindness,” Abu-Salha writes.
The loss of those three young people did not meet the definition of a mass shooting. But it was massive to Abu-Salha, just as this epidemic of gun violence should be massive to us all.