TO: We, The People of the United States of America RE: RE: RE: Mass Shootings
So. It’s happened again.
In the words of President Obama, “There’s been another mass shooting in America” (whitehouse.gov).
In the great nation of freedom, we have once again lost nine of our own at the hands of our own. Nine dead at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg Oregon (cnn.com). When I first heard the story my response was, as it has become over the last year, one of minor frustration. “Ugh,” I thought, “why can’t the US get it’s act together on anything?!” The articles and statements are too familiar, the reaction routine. I would be surprised if there is any major news organisation out there by now that doesn’t have a “mass-shooting” template:
‘Another mass shooting in [city, state] today. [number] dead and [number] injured after a gunman opened fire in [public venue]. The nation is [synonym for shocked] and [synonym for outraged] after the incident. Our [synonym for hopes] and [synonym for prayers] go out to the families affected.
In other news [conservative figure or group] criticised a potential gun regulation bill earlier this week, with a reminder of how US citizens need access to firearms in order to protect themselves from [relatively minor issue often played up by the media]….’
It’s like that old party game Mad Libs. We can call this one the Eff Yeah ‘Murica edition.
Interestingly, there is no official definition of a “mass shooting” in the United States for these news sources to refer to. This partially explains why information around the topic of mass shootings is often very variable across sources, and therefore difficult to understand. Here we will define “mass shooting” in accordance with the online database Mass Shooting Tracker’s definition; “when four or more people are shot in an event, or related series of events, likely without a cooling off period.” These “four or more people” include both those killed and those injured during a shooting, as well as the perpetrator of the violence , bringing the Roseburg death toll up to ten. With this clear definition it becomes possible to compile a vivid picture of what the toll of gun violence is on the people of the United States.
Misuse of firearms accounts for roughly 60% of homicides in the United States each year.
There have been more mass shootings in the United States this year than there have been days– as of the end of Oct 1st; 274 days to 294 mass shootings. Those mass shootings have injured over a 1,000 people, and taken the lives of 394.
At this rate, we will lose another 124 people to mass shootings before they get a chance to see the ball drop at New Years. All of them will leave behind devastated friends and family. None of them are currently expecting such a tragedy could ever be possible in their schools or hometowns. At this rate we will likely see President Obama once more this year facing press cameras, perhaps at a complete loss for words. After all, how many times can he give the same speech? “Each time this happens I am going to say that we can actually do something about it,” he repeated in the aftermath of Roseburg, “but we’re going to have to change our laws” Now the question is, how many more will we lose before the nation as a whole learns this lesson?
Here’s a Mad Libs quiz for you, American public, see if you can fill in the blanks correctly;
The next mass shooting in the United States will take place on [month, day] in [city, state] and will result in [number] of injuries and [number] of deaths. The victim(s) will be; [person’s name], [person’s name], [person’s name], [person’s name], etc. (add more spaces as necessary)
Answers will be distributed by US national news within the week.
Berlinger, Joshua. “Oregon shooting: Victims remembered for compassion.” cnn.com. The Cable News Network, 4 Oct. 2015. Web. 6 Oct. 2015.
Holst, Lindsay. “Watch President Obama’s Statement on the Shooting in Oregon.” whitehouse.gov. United States Federal Government, 1st Oct. 2015. Web. 6 Oct. 2015.
Ingraham, Christopher. “Shooting in Oregon: So far in 2015, we’ve had 274 days and 294 mass shootings.” washingtonpost.com. The Washington Post, 1st Oct, 2015. Web. 6 Oct. 2015.
Johnson, Kirk; Turkewitz, Julie; Vanderhart, Dirk. “Oregon Shooting at Umpqua College Kills 10, Sheriff Says.” nytimes.com. The New York Times, 1st Oct. 2015. Web. 6 Oct. 2015.
“Main Page.” shootingtracker.com. Mass Shooting Tracker, 30 Sep. 2015. Web. 6 Oct. 2015.
“US boy, 11, held for shooting dead eight-year-old neighbour.” bbc.com. British Broadcasting Corporation. Web. 6 Oct. 2015.
“994 mass shootings in 1,004 days: this is what America’s gun crisis looks like.” theguardian.com. The Guardian, 2nd Oct. 2015. Web. 6th Oct. 2015.
Feature photo: Flickr via Lower Columbia College.