Before the end of a long Fourth of July holiday weekend, more than 75 people were injured and at least 11 people were killed in nearly a dozen mass shootings across the country, accelerating an already fast-moving rate of mass acts of gun violence in the US this year.
At least 346 mass shootings were recorded within the first six months of 2023 and through the July 4 weekend, a rate of at least one every day, and outpacing the rates of mass shootings at similar points in the calendar in previous years.
Three people were killed and eight others were wounded in a mass shooting at a festival in Fort Worth, Texas on 3 July. Five people were killed and two others were injured when a gunman in a bulletproof vest fired into a crowd of strangers in Philadelphia that same night.
And in Baltimore, two people were fatally shot and 28 others – half of which were children – were injured in a hail of gunfire during a block party in Baltimore on 2 July.
The deadly incidents underscore the nation’s failure to combat an epidemic of gun violence even as officials across the US and in the highest courts in the country loosen gun laws and make it easier to arm Americans in public.
As of 4 July, more than 21,000 people in the US have died from gun violence, including suicide, which accounts for the largset number of gun deaths each year, according to the Gun Violence Archive. Nearly 19,000 people have been injured in gun-related incidents so far this year.
The organisation counts mass shootings as incidents in which four or more people are killed or injured.
Some of the most visible and deadliest acts of violence have been inside America’s schools. In February, a mass shooting at Michigan State University left three students dead and five others injured. The following month, a mass shooting inside a school in Nashville killed six people, including three young schoolchildren.
Meanwhile, nearly every US state allows gun owners to carry concealed weapons in public in some form. But more than half of US states allow most gun owners to carry a concealed firearm in most public spaces without a permit, background check or safety training, as Republican lawmakers advance a so-called “constitutional carry” movement through state legislatures.
The attacks during the July 4 holiday come one year after a gunman armed with an AR-15 opened fire above a parade in Highland Park, Illinois, where seven people were killed and at least 48 others were injured.
State officials later moved to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines like the one used in that attack in the months that followed. But assault weapons like AR-style rifles remain widely available across the country, despite repeated demands from President Joe Biden and widespread support among Democratic members of Congress to reinstate a federal ban.
Since taking office, the president has had more success in enacting new gun safety legislation than any president since Bill Clinton’s two terms in the 1990s.
But with a Republican-controlled House of Representatives and a de facto 60-vote threshold for any legislative action on any matter in the Democratic-controlled Senate, it is unlikely that Congress will make any progress towards any new laws that would restrict the availability of firearms in the US – even as a majority of Americans believe it should be more difficult to get them.
“And as we have seen over the last few days, much more must be done in Illinois and across America to address the epidemic of gun violence that is tearing our communities apart,” President Joe Biden said in a statement following the latest wave of violence on 4 July.
“It is within our power to once again ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, to require safe storage of guns, to end gun manufacturers’ immunity from liability, and to enact universal background checks,” he added. “I urge other states to follow Illinois’ lead, and continue to call upon Republican lawmakers in Congress to come to the table on meaningful, commonsense reforms that the American people support.”
Meanwhile, the US Supreme Court – one year after striking down a century-old New York law requiring handgun owners to show “proper cause” for a licence to carry a concealed weapon – will consider another major Second Amendment case in the coming months.
The conservative supermajority court will hear arguments in a case that asks whether the government can prohibit domestic violence offenders from owning firearms, setting up another major Second Amendment test that could radically reshape gun safety laws across the country in the grip of a record-breaking year for gun violence.
Here is a look at several high-profile acts of mass violence in the US in 2023
At least five people were fatally shot and two children were injured the night before the Fourth of July during the long holiday weekend. Police arrested a suspect who was reportedly armed with an AR-15-style rifle and a handgun and wearing a bulletproof vest.
The apparent shooting spree spanned several blocks and damaged several cars.
At least two people were killed and at least 28 others were injured during a block party on 2 July during the Fourth of July holiday weekend.
Nine people were injured on 29 May during the Memorial Day holiday when gunfire erupted between two groups along the beach.
A gunman whose alleged online history and writings included violent neo-Nazi images and statements opened fire at a crowded mall in a Dalla suburb on 6 May, killing at least eight people and injuring at least seven others. An officer at the scene fatally shot him.
A 24-year-old gunman walked into a waiting room at a medical office complex in midtown Atlanta on 3 May and killed one person and injured four others before fleeing the city and triggering an hourslong statewide manhunt. Deion Patterson was charged with one count of murder and four counts of aggravated assault.
On 1 May, convicted sex offender Jesse McFadden killed six people, including his wife and three of her children, before fatally shooting himself on his ranch in a small town outside of Tulsa.
On 28 April, a gunman fatally shot five people after a neighbor asked him to stop firing his gun in his yard. State and federal law enforcement officers discovered Francisco Oropeza after a four-day search. He was charged with five counts of murder and was indicted for capital murder of multiple persons, which allows prosecutors to seek the death penalty.
A shooting at a “Sweet 16” birthday party on 15 April left four people dead and 28 others injured in a small town of roughly 3,000 people 45 miles northeast of Montgomery. Roughly 60 people were inside the venue at the time of the shooting.
At least six people who were allegedly involved with the shooting face a range of charges. Two brothers – ages 16 and 17 – were charged with four counts of reckless murder. Johnny Letron Brown, Wilson LaMar Hill and Willie George Brown Jr, also face the same charges. A sixth suspect, a 15-year-old from Tuskegee, also faces the same charges.
A 25-year-old employee opened fire at a bank on 10 April, killing five people and injuring eight others while live streaming the attack and exchanging gunfire with responding police officers.
The gunman, identified as bank employee Connor Sturgeon, was armed with an AR-15-style rifle. He was fatally shot by police.
Three nine-year-old students and three staff members died after a shooting at a private Christian grade school on 27 March.
The suspect, 28-year-old Audrey Hale, was fatally shot by police at the Covenant School in Nasvhille’s Green Hills suburb.
Half Moon Bay, California
On 23 January, Chunli Zhao shot seven people across two agricultural business locations – a mushroom farm and a trucking facility.
Zhao fatally shot four people at Mountain Mushroom Farm and three others at Concord Farms, roughly two miles away. Zhao was a former employee at both farms. He has been charged with seven counts of murder, one count of attempted murder, firearm use enhancements, and one count of special circumstance allegation of multiple murder.
Monterey Park, California
Huu Can Tran, a one-time fixture at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio, fatally shot 11 people and wounded nine others with a submachine gun-style semiautomatic handgun on 21 January. He killed himself as police surrounded his van the next morning.
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