Mass Shootings: Gun Violence Across U.S. Likely to Get Worse

SExperts, police and community leaders warn that hootings this weekend across the nation could signal a more violent summer.

At least 11 people died in the mass shootings that occurred in Chattanooga (Tenn.) and Philadelphia (Penn.), respectively, during June’s first weekend.

In any year, gun violence in America is most severe during the summer months. “Unfortunately we’re likely to see more of this,” Thomas Abt, a senior fellow with the Council on Criminal Justice, a nonpartisan research organization, tells TIME, arguing that the kinds of mass shootings that occurred over the weekend could continue as the summer days and weeks begin.

A non-profit that tracks gun violence data across the nation, The Gun Violence Archive defines mass shootings as incidents where at least four victims are killed. There have been 247 mass killings so far this year and another 13 in the past weekend. As of June 6, there have been almost 19,000 gun-related deaths in the United States. This includes over 8,300 homicides.

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Most gun shooting deaths are not reported. This is in contrast to the massacres at Uvalde in Texas where a gunman shot and killed 19 children and 2 teachers in an elementary school.

Because it took place in South Street’s most popular entertainment area, the Philadelphia shooting was an exception. There had been an argument between at least two people before the shots were fired. Online video shows an altercation between two men before shots were fired. Trey three people were killed and 12 more were hurt.

According to police, at least five guns were involved in the shooting, which indicates that multiple gunmen were involved. On Monday, two suspects were detained.

Two people died and fourteen were injured in Chattanooga’s shooting incident at a nightclub on Sunday morning. Another victim was killed when a vehicle struck him while he tried to flee. One person has not been arrested.

Three people died in Saginaw (Michigan) on Sunday morning. One of them was a seven-month-old woman. The baby survived and was delivered later. Two other people were hurt.

Three more people were killed and nine others injured in mass shootings that occurred in Arizona, Georgia, and South Carolina this weekend.

As Abt puts it, there isn’t one gun violence problem in the country, there are four: suicides, community gun violence, domestic gun violence, and mass shootings.

Experts and community leaders, as well as activists, have always pointed out the impact of the pandemic on the increase in violence during the past two decades. “I think that our institutions have not yet fully recovered from the pandemic,” Abt says.

A second factor was the divisions that arose from the George Floyd murder. Even though defunding hasn’t actually occurred across the nation, many community activists think that police may have taken a backwards step due to the increased attention given to the police killings.

There are a few steps cities and towns can now take to reduce gun violence in their communities. These include identifying the exact location of violence, investing in antiviolence programs, and engaging thoughtfully with people who may be at high risk.

All of this said, guns are still on the streets. “I’m worried that as people go out more, because of the pandemic easing and because of the warm weather, we’re going to have another very violent summer. So I’m concerned about it,” Abt says.

There’s been a point of emphasis on addressing the root causes of gun violence, particularly community gun violence and implementing long-term solutions to it.

“Violence is concentrated in these poor communities of color. If we want to save the most lives we need to reduce shootings and killings in these neighborhoods,” Abt says.

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