Today marks the one month anniversary of the worst mass shooting in US history. On June 12th in Orlando, 49 people were fatally shot and another 53 were injured at The Pulse nightclub when a hate filled young man, who had at one point been suspected of being a terrorist, used a legally purchased Sig Sauer MCX .223-caliber semi-automatic assault rifle and a Glock 17 9mm semi-automatic pistol to shoot over 100 people inside the Pulse nightclub. Initially, he traded shots with an armed Orlando police officer working security at Pulse and then engaged in a standoff with law enforcement for around 3 hours before finally being shot by police after they breached the back wall of the club.
Less than a week ago in Dallas, the worst attack on US law enforcement since 9/11 unfolded on live television in American living rooms. Over the course of a few chaotic hours, an angry veteran armed with Izhmash-Saiga 5.45mm high-powered rifle, a variation of an AK-style military weapon, a Glock 9mm semi-automatic pistol and a .25-caliber semi-automatic pistol, was able to shoot 16 people in an urban sniper attack. The officers had been protecting peaceful protestors as they marched at a downtown rally. Despite the 20-30 armed civilians at the rally who were openly carrying handguns and long guns and who were wearing gas masks and bulletproof vests (who did not stop or engage the shooter) and the even larger number of trained law enforcement officers who acted heroically and bravely to contain and neutralize the shooter, 5 officers were killed and 9 officers and 2 civilians were injured.
Two horrible and terrifying mass shootings. Two mass shootings that dominated the news cycle for days, and rightly so. Two mass shootings that sparked outrage and despair, as they should.
Sadly, there have been other mass shootings since Dallas, four to be exact, including one here in Tennessee. And, there have been many more since the massacre at The Pulse nightclub. Sadly there have been many incidents of American gun violence since that awful night in mid-June.
The Gun Violence Archive (GVA) is a nonprofit website that tracks and aggregates daily incidents of shootings and gun violence. The website utilizes automated queries, manual research through over 1,200 media sources, aggregates, police blotters, police media outlets and other sources to provide nearly real-time data. GVA defines a mass shooting as any incident where FOUR or more shot and/or killed in a single event, at the same general time and location not including the shooter.
Since June 12th– –
There have been 44 mass shootings, more than one a day.
43 people were killed
168 people were injured. Some injuries were minor while others caused permanent damage.
Two of the mass shootings occurred in Tennessee:
- On July 7, a 37-year-old Army veteran in Bristol, Tennessee who was possibly angry about recent incidents involving black men being shot by police officers opened fire on Volunteer Highway, shooting at motorists and a nearby Days Inn. The TBI says the shooter “acted alone” and was armed with at least two weapons, an “automatic-style” rifle, a pistol and a large amount of ammunition.
- On July 3, four people were shot outside a home in Chattanooga. Two of the people shot were children, a 15-year-old and a 7-year-old. Currently, there are no suspects in custody.
ACCIDENTAL SHOOTINGS OF CHILDREN
Since June 12 – –
There have been 41 incidents where a child under 18 was accidentally shot.
19 of the children were killed.
23 of the children were injured.
Two of the incidents occurred in Tennessee:
- On July 1st in Clarksville, a 3-year-old found a loaded .40 caliber handgun, picked it up and fatally shot himself in the face. The boy and his family were visiting from out of town. The homeowner, who displayed a sign in front of his house warning of his “Second Amendment Security System”, has not been charged with any wrongdoing. This was the 3rd Tennessee child to die after finding a loaded, unlocked gun.
- On July 3 in Chattanooga, just two days later, a 17-year-old was at a friend’s apartment when she picked up a gun and unintentionally shot herself in the leg. To date, no charges have been filed.
According to the CDC, 58 people EVERY DAY use a gun to take their own life. Firearms suicides are the most common. They are also the most impulsive and by far, the most lethal.
According to the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network, on average in any given year, 600 Tennesseans will take their life with a gun.
Based on these averages, we know that:
Since June 12th – –
1, 740 people have used to gun to kill themselves.
50 Tennesseans used a gun to kill themselves.
Are we finally going to grow weary of these shootings – all of them? Every hour, someone in our country is shot- they’re shot by someone else, often in senseless acts of anger and most often by someone they know. Many times shootings happen as part of an altercation. Earlier this week, a man was shot in Knoxville over a parking space. Often, a person is injured or killed with their own gun. They unintentionally shoot themselves as a result of carelessness or, in a state of utter sadness, they reach for the quick solution of a loaded gun. And, as we unfortunately see too often in Tennessee, a child is injured or killed when they pick up a loaded gun an irresponsible adult chose to leave laying.
Our hearts grieve for the police officers lost in Dallas. Our hearts still hurt for innocent souls lost in Orlando. Our hearts also ache for the hundreds of Americans -and Tennesseans – who’ve lost their lives to bullets in the time in between, but also for those who will lose their lives today, those who will be shot before the end of this week, and for the tens of thousands more who will die before the end of 2016.
Lives lost and families destroyed.
Anger, hate, sadness, despair, carelessness – and guns. Easy access to guns. Politicians who do nothing and a gun lobby whose answer is always the same: more gun for more people more places.
But, how is that working out for us? How do we as a nation sleep at night knowing that as a country, we’ve largely chosen to shrug our shoulders because we have grown desensitized to it? How do we let a single special interest group hold the entire nation hostage as people, adults and children, die daily while the National Rifle Association and the gun manufacturers they represent reap millions and millions of dollars in profits.
How many more deaths will it take?
How many more?