Miami Herald

‘When does this stop?’ In 2023, an alarmingly bloody start


In a country with more guns than people — and one emerging from three years of isolation, stress and infighting amid the COVID-19 pandemic — Americans are beginning 2023 with a steady barrage of mass slaughter.

Eleven people killed as they welcomed the Lunar New Year at a dance hall. A teen mother and her baby shot in the head in an attack that killed family members of five generbroug­ht ations. A 6-year-old shooting his first-grade teacher. The list goes on.

“We’ve been through so much in these past few years, and to continue to see case after case of mass violence in the media is just overwhelmi­ng,” said Apryl Alexander, an associate professor of public health at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. “When does this stop?”

The carnage over eight days in California, where the dance-hall victims Saturday night were among two dozen people killed in three recent attacks, painful reminders to families of last year’s school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. On Tuesday, several Uvalde families and parents traveled more than three hours to their state’s Capitol to renew calls for tighter gun laws even though they have little chance of winning over the Republican­controlled Legislatur­e.

In 2022, the United

States marked its first deadly gun rampage of the year on Jan. 23 — a year ago Monday. By that same date this year, six mass killings had claimed 39 lives, according to a database of mass killings maintained by The Associated Press, USA Today and Northeaste­rn University.

“People are dying every day. This shouldn’t be happening,” said Veronica Mata, whose 10-year-old daughter, Tess, was among the 19 children and two teachers slain in Uvalde. “If it takes us coming every week then we are going to do it until we see something change.”

Americans have come to endure mass shootings in churches and grocery stores, at concerts and office parks, and inside the homes of friends and neighbors. The violence is blamed on hatred toward other communitie­s, grievances within a group, secrets within families and bitterness among colleagues. But it often ends when a man with a grudge grabs a gun.

Sometimes, it’s not clear whether a grudge is even part of the equation.

“There was no apparent conflict between the parties. The male just walked in and started shooting,” Yakima Police Chief Matt Murray said after three people were shot dead at a Circle K convenienc­e store in Washington state early Tuesday.

Experts believe there are 393 million guns in private hands across the United States, which in 2022 was a country of 333 million people.

Some Americans say they don’t feel safe anywhere. A third avoid certain places as a result, according to the American Psychologi­cal Associatio­n, whose most recent study shows that the majority of Americans feel stressed.

Yet there seems little appetite to address some of the potential solutions, such as teaching conflict-resolution skills in schools or re-examining our societal views of masculinit­y, according to Alexander.

The database shows

2,793 people have lost their lives in mass killings — those that involve four or more victims, excluding the killer — since 2006. The recent violence follows a spike in 2022, when the U.S. recorded 42 mass killings, the second-highest tally in that time span.

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