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As of January 2023, 1,214 people have already been shot dead in the US, and with the easy availability of guns, the number of victims can only rise.
California was rocked by two horrific incidents just days apart, but such mass shootings are not considered abnormal in the US. With a week left in January, there have already been 39 mass shootings across the country this year, including five in California.
Reports from the non-profit research group Gun Violence Archive show the predictability of America’s mass shootings. According to their data, which classifies a mass shooting as any armed attack in which at least four people are injured or killed, not including the perpetrator, nearly 70 people have been shot and killed in mass shootings so far in 2023.
Expanding that to all gun violence deaths, excluding suicides, 1,214 people were killed by the end of the first month of this year, including 120 children. By the end of 2023, this number is likely to increase to tens of thousands – the figure for 2022 is 20,200 dead.
By comparison, 31 people were killed by firearms in the whole year ending March 2022, according to the latest figures from the UK. The population of the UK is 67 million compared to the US population of 333 million.
Saturday’s shooting in Monterey Park, in which a 72-year-old Asian man was accused of killing 11 people in a Chinese Lunar New Year attack at a dance hall in a city outside Los Angeles, was notable as the deadliest US shooting of 2023, but not by much.
Just days later in 2023, a Utah man fatally shot his five children, mother-in-law and wife before turning the gun on himself.
And while American cable television was still reporting on the aftermath of the Monterey Park shooting on Monday, they had to turn to a new mass murder, this time at a school for at-risk youth in Des Moines, Iowa. Two students were killed and one teacher injured.
Later that day, seven people were killed in northern California in an agricultural area on the edge of Half Moon Bay, a coastal community about 30 miles south of San Francisco. It was the latest mass shooting – the 38th in a row – just hours before two people were killed and three injured in Chicago.
California Governor Gavin Newsom met with the victims of the Monterey Park massacre at the hospital at the time, but said he was pulled from their beds “to inform him of another shooting.”
“Tragedy upon tragedy,” he wrote on Twitter.
The pace of killing is hard to follow. Eight days ago, another mass shooting, also in California, killed six people, including a 17-year-old mother and her 6-month-old baby.
Despite the claims of America’s gun lobby and their powerful political backers, these shootings have little in common in terms of the past or mental health of the killers. Instead, they are united by the easy availability of lethal weapons – and this is what sets the US apart from most other developed countries.
Americans have bought an estimated 150 million guns over the past decade, with sales increasing especially during the pandemic. According to the 2018 Small Arms Survey, there are more guns than people in the US, with the country having the highest rate of firearm ownership in the world and more than double the next country on the list, Yemen.
Expectations for further gun control legislation in Congress are low, as the House of Representatives is largely controlled by pro-gun Republicans.