'We Can't Endure This Anymore': Weekend Mass Shootings Sound Alarm for Rising US Gun Crimes

Police Line Do Not Cross - Sputnik International, 1920, 24.03.2022
A mass shooting is characterized as a single event in which four or more people are killed or injured by firearms. This weekend in the United States there were at least nine reported mass shootings that left eight people dead and 60 injured.
While the United States faces inflation, a housing crisis, climate change, and the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s another mess the nation must address: a rise in gun violence.
At an annual car show on Saturday in Dumas, Arkansas, a gunfight left 27 people injured and one dead. That same day, in Norfolk, Virginia, an argument over a spilled drink outside a pizzeria sparked a shooting that left three people injured and two dead, including a 25 year-old newspaper reporter who was an uninvolved bystander.
On Saturday, in Fayetteville, North Carolina, three people were killed and three others were wounded in a shooting at a hotel 10 miles south of Fort Bragg. In Miami Beach, a vacation hotspot where spring breakers have traditionally been free to rampage, a curfew has been imposed as well as a declaration of a state of emergency made by officials there after two weekend shootings.
“We can’t endure this anymore, we just simply can’t,” said Dan Gelber, the Miami Beach mayor. “This isn’t your father’s, your mother’s spring break. This is something totally different.”
The following day, on Sunday morning at around 12:50 a.m., at least four people were reported injured in a shooting in downtown Austin, Texas, during the city’s South by Southwest (SXSW) festival. On Friday, in New Iberia, Louisiana, five people were injured, including an infant, as a result of a drive-by shooting.
U.S. President Joe Biden gestures as he speaks before signing the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act into law, in the East Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., May 20, 2021. - Sputnik International, 1920, 26.05.2021
Biden Calls on US Congress to Help End 'Epidemic of Gun Violence' After San Jose Shooting
During the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, gun violence in the United States increased by 30%. In a scientific report published in 2019, researchers found that among many other issues, unemployment and social distancing had resulted in an increase of “risk-taking” behaviors, including gun violence.
"We were not surprised that the gun violence rates were higher during the pandemic," said the study’s lead author, Dr. Paddy Ssentongo, who is an assistant professor with the Center for Neural Engineering at Pennsylvania State University. "But we were surprised by the large magnitude of the increase."
Researchers of the study also learned that there was an estimated 41% increase in the sales of handguns which was reported in March 2020 as compared to March 2019 due to an unsubstantiated public fear that guns would be in “short supply”.
In the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Garen J. Wintemute, a researcher on gun violence at the University of California, says he is worried that Americans are starting to see others they have disagreements with as “the enemy”.
“We have lowered the bar, the threshold of insult or affront or whatever, that’s necessary for violence to seem legitimate,” he said.
The study found that between January 1, 2019, and March 31, 2021, at least 93,000 combined injuries and deaths, including suicides, occurred through the use of guns.
The surge in mass shootings is an ominous prelude for this upcoming summer season, when the nation typically faces its highest rates of violent crime.
“When picnics and outside events like this car show, when all that happens, that’s a kickoff” to a period of violence, said Mark Bryant, founder of the Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit organization that collects data on shootings. “And I’m just afraid the kickoff was this weekend.”
New York City has also suffered as a result of an increase in gun-related crime. A reported 29 people were shot last weekend, including two customers at a bar in Queens, a metro rider in Brooklyn, and a person killed during an argument in the Bronx.
An FU custom upper receiver for an AR-15 style rifle is displayed for sale at Firearms Unknown, a gun store in Oceanside, California, U.S., April 12, 2021.  REUTERS/Bing Guan - Sputnik International, 1920, 17.04.2021
US Tops Global Lists for Gun-Related Violence, Mass Shootings
On January 24, when NYC Mayor Eric Adams first took office, he set out a goal to end gun violence in the city which he called a “Blueprint to End Gun Violence”, calling for harsher penalties of gun-related offenses and revising the state’s 2020 bail reform laws.
“I say this over and over again,” Adams said at a news conference on Monday, “we need help from Washington, we need help on the state level. We need help. But with or without that help, we’re going to make our city a safe city.”
States controlled by Republicans have less and looser gun laws. The governor of Indiana, Eric Holcomb (R-IN), signed a bill which eliminates the need to have a license to carry a handgun in the state, despite opposition from the head of the state police force, whom he appointed, citing public safety concerns. Earlier this year, Ohio and Alabama passed similar laws.
In late January, a study published by Everytown for Gun Safety, a nonprofit advocating for stronger common-sense gun laws, showed that states with lenient gun laws have strikingly higher rates of gun-related deaths. Mississippi, for instance, has the weakest gun laws in the country (according to the January study) and has the highest rate of gun fatalities, currently detailed at 28.6 deaths per 100,000 residents.
Virginia-Pilot newspaper reporter and former CNN news assistant Sierra Jenkins was killed as the result of an argument outside of Chicho’s Pizza Backstage in downtown Norfolk, mentioned earlier in this article.
Virginia-Pilot editor-in-chief, Kris Worrell, said of the 25 year-old, “[She] was a bright and talented woman with so much promise. Her passion for journalism was undeniable and our community is better because of her reporting. She brought both energy and empathy to her work as an education reporter.”
“To have the life of such a talented young person cut short is devastating,” Worrell added. “Our thoughts are with Sierra’s family and all those who knew and loved her. We are absolutely heartbroken.”
Advocates for common-sense gun laws in the US increasingly suggest that the expression of grief and dismay surrounding gun deaths is no longer enough.
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