Escaping the Shadow: Battling Gun Violence in America

The USA is plagued by gun violence and mass shootings in 2022-23: let the American people enjoy true freedom from the fear of gun violence 

by Shakuntala Bhabani

Shootings have continuously made headlines just seven months into the year. The gun violence epidemic continues unabated in the United States. According to some reports, the United States is averaging two mass shootings a day so far this year. As per the Economic Times newspaper, at least 3 people were killed and 2 injured in a mass shooting in Washington DC’s nightlife district in the US on Saturday.

The victims include two men and a woman who were shot in the Anacostia area of Southeast Washington, police said. Two men and a woman were pronounced dead at the scene, and two men were transported to area hospitals, Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department Acting Chief Pamela Smith said during a news conference at the scene. The city has now recorded more than 150 homicides so far this year, putting it on track for the largest number of killings in more than two decades. Washington DC Acting Police Chief Pamela Smith called the shooting a “senseless act of violence in Southeast.” The killings come amid a stream of shootings that have left at least a dozen people dead in the first five days of August, as reported by The Washington Post.

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“This kind of gun violence is not acceptable in the District of Columbia. This is not a war zone. We want our residents to feel safe,” Smith said.

Smith asked for help from the public in collecting information about what she called a disturbing fatal shooting. “We realize that there may be others who may have been injured tonight. We are asking you to come forward,” Smith said, adding that the community needs to be involved in stopping the city’s violence. “It can’t rest upon the Metropolitan Police Department to determine what works and what doesn’t work.”

Washington experienced another mass shooting last month when nine people were wounded while celebrating Independence Day in a neighborhood about a 20-minute drive east of the White House.

As of August 1, at least 25,198 people have died from gun violence in the U.S. this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive – an average of roughly 118 deaths each day. Of those who died, 879 were teenagers, and 170 were children.

At least nine mass shootings rocked cities across the nation over the weekend, leaving five people dead and 56 wounded, according to a national website that tracks gun violence.

The mass casualty shootings occurred at parties, outside of a nightclub and a convenience store, during a street game of dominoes, and even at a community meeting on how to combat gun violence, according to the Gun Violence Archive, which defines a mass shooting as a single event with four or more victims either injured or killed.

The weekend violence increased the number of mass shootings in 2023 to 419, with still five months left in the year. The number of mass shootings this year has already surpassed the total number that occurred in all of 2019, according to data from the Gun Violence Archive.

According to the website’s data, an average of two mass shootings have occurred every day this year. In all of 2022, there were 647 mass shootings nationwide, slightly down from the 690 that occurred in 2021.

Deaths by suicide have made up the vast majority of gun violence deaths this year. There have been more than 14,000 deaths by gun suicide this year, an average of about 66 deaths by suicide per day in 2023.

The majority of these deaths have occurred in Texas, California, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Illinois, and Louisiana.

The grim tally of gun violence deaths includes 488 people killed in police officer-involved shootings. Thirty-four police officers have been fatally shot in the line of duty this year.

There have also been 960 “unintentional” shootings, as shown by the Gun Violence Archive.

There have been more than 420 mass shootings in 2023 so far, which are defined by the Gun Violence Archive as incidents in which four or more victims are shot or killed. These mass shootings have led to 465 deaths and 1,781 injuries.

There have been at least 20 K-12 school shootings so far this year, including a March 27 incident at The Covenant School, a Christian school for students in preschool through sixth grade in Nashville, Tennessee, where three children and three staff members were shot and killed.

In Michigan, three students were killed, and five others were injured when a gunman opened fire at two locations on Michigan State University’s main campus in East Lansing on Feb. 13, the police said.

California saw three mass shootings in a matter of days in January, with one shooting leaving at least 11 people killed and 10 others injured after a gunman opened fire at a dance studio near a Lunar New Year celebration in Monterey Park, California.

The U.S. has surpassed 39,000 deaths from gun violence per year since 2014, according to data from the Gun Violence Archive. However, gun deaths are down from 2016, 2017, and 2018, when the total number of deaths each year surpassed 50,000. There were 44,310 such deaths in 2022.

Last June, President Joe Biden signed into law a gun safety package passed by Congress. It was the first gun reform bill from Congress in decades.

But advocates for gun reform continue to push for tougher measures. Florida lawmakers Rep. Jared Moskowitz and Rep. Maxwell Frost spoke with “GMA3” this month to mark the fifth anniversary of the tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and called on Congress to do more to curb gun violence.

“Five years later, we feel like we’ve made some progress, and then we were reminded that nothing has changed,” Moskowitz said.

Americans experience more significant shootings than any other nation in the West, and gun violence has left deep scars in U.S. society, as reported by the California-based non-profit YR Media recently.

“In spite of these mass shootings, our government does not act. The effects of gun violence continue to deepen the wounds in American communities while progress on gun safety legislation stagnates in many states,” said the report.

Appeals for stricter gun laws have been ignored by the US government as politics and big money step in, despite the increase in mass shootings in the country over recent years, as reported by the Dubai-based daily Gulf News.

In a commentary titled “The politics behind gun violence in the US,” which was published on the Gulf News website on Sunday, Tariq A. Al Maeena, a Saudi sociopolitical commentator, said the US politicians who have long turned deaf ears to the voices from more than half of the population for strict gun control are more in tune with their backers, the special interest groups, than their voters.

The right to life is the biggest human right. The Declaration of Independence begins with the statement that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are unalienable rights. One gunshot after another has shattered the American Dream that all men are endowed with the unalienable rights to life and liberty and has led people to reflect deeply on where American-style human rights really are. Some US politicians have long treated the American people’s right to life with indifference. Faced with growing gun proliferation, they have done nothing more than engage in empty talks and prolonged debates, while pointing fingers at the human rights conditions of other countries. The most important thing that they are duty-bound to do is face up to and address their own problems and let the American people enjoy true freedom from the fear of gun violence, let the American people enjoy true freedom from the fear of gun violence.

Dr. Shakuntala Bhabani is a Kolkata-based educator