We must end the killing
The US has suffered 16 mass shootings in 72 hours. Human freedom cannot coexist with rampant, everyday mass killing. Democracy requires a civic space that is safe and open to all people at all times.
While there are many challenges we must confront, and there is hope that we might, by facing these challenges head on, move into a brighter future, we must today talk about heartbreak and horror. The United States is experiencing an outbreak of terror and mass killing that seems only to escalate and which leaves no place safe.
During an Independence Day parade in Highland Park, Illinois, near Chicago, a lone gunman opened fire using a high-powered combat-style rifle. He fired into a crowd gathered for the parade, sending people fleeing for their lives. Seven people are reported killed, with at least 24 more reported to have been treated for injuries.
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The Chicago Sun-Times reports:
“At Highland Park Hospital, Dr. Brigham Temple said 25 of the 26 people treated there were gunshot victims and that 19 of them had been treated and sent home.
Temple said they ranged in age from 8 years old to 85. About “four or five” of them are children, he said. One child was transported from there to the University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital, and another was transferred to Evanston Hospital.”
Much of the country was learning the details of this attack on the evening of the 4th, when video surfaced online of huge crowds running for their lives in Philadelphia, after an “active shooter” opened fire on a crowd gathered to celebrate the 4th of July. Another shooting also happened across town.
While we took in this news, social media here in Minneapolis began to buzz with alerts from police scanners and witnesses that multiple people had been shot at a 4th of July gathering in Boom Island Park. It was unclear at first how many people were shot, because several victims left to seek medical treatment before police arrived.
Just after noon today, MPR News reported:
“Eight people were hospitalized after a shooting late Monday night at Boom Island Park in Minneapolis.
The Minneapolis Park Board said in a statement that several of the victims are in critical condition.
The shooting was reported at about 11:30 p.m. Monday at the park along the Mississippi River, north of downtown.”
There was also a mass shooting in Sacramento, California, in the early morning hours of July 4, and six people were shot in Richmond, Virginia, also in the early morning hours. On the 4th, four people were shot in separate incidents in Kansas City and Boston. Today, four people were shot in Kenosha, Wisconsin, with one killed.
At least 16 mass shootings happened in the United States in 72 hours.
In just 72 hours from Saturday morning through Tuesday morning, there were mass shootings (with four or more people shot) in:
Haltom City, Texas
Clinton, North Carolina
Mullins, South Carolina
Corona, New York
Kansas City, Missouri
Highland Park, Illinois
That doesn’t count the two shootings in Philadelphia, which at this time appear to have included fewer than 4 victims each. It also doesn’t count the shootings where 3 people were reported shot, in:
Corona, New York (21 people were shot in 14 separate incidents in New York, over the July 4 holiday weekend.)
Police in Richmond, Virginia, also say they thwarted a planned mass shooting at an outdoor amphitheater, thanks to an anonymous tip. According to reporting by the Guardian:
“The tip sparked an investigation that led to the arrest of two men in possession of assault rifles and more than 200 rounds of ammunition. Police said the men were planning to attack the arena, which seats about 2,400 people.”
The numbers of people harmed or killed by firearms is staggering. In the 72 hours from Saturday morning through Tuesday morning, there were a total of 421 reported and registered shootings, in which at least one person was shot.
The following figures are current as of Thursday, July 7, 2022:
The Gun Violence Archive reports 322 mass shootings in the United States this year, so far.
181 children have been killed, and another 387 injured, by firearms so far this year.
685 teenagers (age 12–17) have been killed, and another 1,822 injured.
8 more teenagers and one more child have been killed by firearms, since the first version of this report was published two days ago.
The Economist reports: “Guns are the thing most likely to kill young people in America”
22,729 Americans have lost their lives to firearms this year. (That number was 22,419 on Tuesday morning.)
It is heartbreaking that we continue to suffer this rampant bloodshed and terror. It is heartbreaking that children are being taught to be terrified of what might happen at their school, at parades, in movie theatres, or when meeting public officials to share their hopes and dreams. It is heartbreaking that even with historic legislation signed into law, the American people are being abandoned to this bloodshed by judges and elected officials who seem to assign more rights and privileges to deadly weapons than to human beings.
The Supreme Court’s finding that people can carry weapons even when others wish to remain free from the presence of firearms ignores the Bill of Rights and recklessly aids those who wish to profit from the ongoing terror and killing. They ignore the 2nd Amendment’s requirement that firearms be “well regulated”, but they also ignore all of the other ways in which the Bill of Rights works to create a civic space free from violence or the imposition of threatened violence.
Perhaps most callously, the Bruen majority justices ignore the fact that the Constitution is designed to enable careful, cooperative problem solving led by free people directing their elected officials. It does not outline for the Court any power to unilaterally mandate that all communities in all states must accept unlicensed, unreviewable concealed carry of firearms—a condition most societies would recognize as a recipe for lawlessness.
The American epidemic of mass killing by firearm will likely cost more than 40,000 Americans their lives this year, including 20,000 homicides. That would be the third consecutive year in which more than 40,000 Americans died by firearm.
229,954 Americans have lost their lives to firearms since January 1, 2017.
We can stop this; we must stop this. Ending this slaughter must be a core national priority, carried forward by people of conscience at all levels.
UPDATE—July 5, 2022, 11:28 am CDT
Mass shooting in Gary, Indiana kills 3, wounds 7
Immediately after this piece was first published, we received word that the city of Gary, Indiana, experienced a deadly mass shooting in the early morning hours, at a 4th of July celebration, just after midnight. According to Fox 32 Chicago:
Police arrived at the scene of the shooting around 12:46 a.m. in the 1900 block of Missouri Street and found 10 people with gunshot wounds, three of them unresponsive, according to officials.“
We have revised the article to report 15 mass shootings in 72 hours.
Six additional deaths have also been added, along with the 3 deaths in the Gary attack, so we have added 9 more overall deaths for this year, to reflect the updated Gun Violence Archive report of 22,428 lives lost to firearms in 2022.
UPDATE—July 5, 2022, 1:27 pm CDT
July 4 mass shooting sends 8 to hospital in Minneapolis
We issue a second update as news of the many shootings continues to evolve. Just after noon today, local time, MPR News reported that 8 people had been hospitalized following a mass shooting at Boom Island Park, just before midnight on July 4. Several of the victims are now reported to be in critical condition.
We have revised the article again to report 16 mass shootings in 72 hours.
Since our first update, an additional 10 deaths have been added to the Gun Violence Archive report for 2022. As of 1:27 pm CDT, 22,438 Americans have been reported killed by firearms this year.
UPDATE—July 5, 2022, 9:44 pm CDT
22,494 Americans have died this year by firearm
Throughout the day, we have seen new numbers coming in, as more tragic incidents are reported. As the sun sets over the upper midwest, the Gun Violence Archive is now reporting 22,494 deaths by firearm in the United States in 2022. That is 75 more lives lost than had been reported when we published this newsletter at 11:00 am today, less than 11 hours ago.
We have updated the text above accordingly.
UPDATE—July 7, 2022, 11:40 am CDT
22,729 Americans have died this year by firearm
An updated version of this article was published today on Medium. We have updated the overall numbers of registered gun-related deaths. In the 48 hours since this newsletter was first published, 310 Americans have lost their lives to gun violence. There is also news of a number of thwarted attacks, including the second mass murder event planned by the Highland Park shooter.
22,729 Americans have lost their lives this year to firearms, and 229,954 have died by firearm since January 1, 2017.
UPDATE—July 8, 2022, 12:08 pm CDT
Former Prime Minister of Japan Abe Shinzo assassinated by extremist with home-made gun
The assassination of Prime Minister Abe is an atrocity and a crime against democracy itself. We should also add that the violent extremist tendencies that appear to have informed this atrocity are transnational, and extremists everywhere are partly to blame.
As far as gun violence in the United States goes, the meaning of the assassination of Prime Minister Abe is clear:
The updated total of Americans killed by firearms in 2022 is 22,865—136 more than it was yesterday.
UPDATE—July 21, 2022, 9:06 am CDT
2,109 more Americans have been killed by guns since July 4 holiday weekend
This morning, the Gun Violence Archive is reporting 24,528 have been killed this year by firearms. That is 2,109 more lives lost in just over 2 weeks. There have also been 42 more mass shootings in those 16 days—more than 2.5 on average. 11 more children have been killed since July 5.
All of these deaths are preventable.
The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which was passed by the United States Senate and House of Representatives and was signed into law by President Biden, is the most significant gun safety legislation in three decades. The law will:
Enhance background checks for buyers under 21 years old
Financial incentives for states to enact red flag laws
Disarm domestic abusers and close the “boyfriend loophole”
Clarify who must run a background check
Crack down on gun trafficking
Fund community violence intervention
Invest in mental health services
Provide school safety funding
Much more needs to be done to end the killing, including a nationwide ban on combat-style firearms and high-capacity magazines. “Bump stock” devices and other modifications intended to make semi-automatic weapons into automatic weapons should also be banned, and any such modification should be treated as a federal felony punishable by significant jail time.
Congress could also reinforce state and local gun safety measures by using its authority over interstate commerce to require that firearms be licensed in any state they are carried into, and by granting specific legal authority to cities to control the flow of privately owned firearms.
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