– When will it stop? An alarmingly bloody start for 2023


Ashley Landis / AP

Women stop at a memorial during a vigil for the victims of the Star Ballroom Dance Studio shooting on Monday, January 23, 2023, in Monterey Park, California. The gunman killed several people late Saturday night during the Lunar New Year celebrations in a predominantly Asian-American community.

In a country that has more guns than people and is emerging from three years of lockdown, stress, and infighting amid the pandemic, Americans are starting 2023 with an ongoing flurry of massacres.

Eleven people died while celebrating the Lunar New Year at a dance hall popular with older Asian Americans. A teenage mother and her child were shot in the head in an attack that took the lives of five generations. A 6-year-old boy shoots his first grader in the classroom. The list goes on.

“We’ve been through a lot in the past few years, and it’s staggering to see mass violence constantly appearing in the media,” said April Alexander, assistant professor of public health at the University of North Carolina. Charlotte. “When will this stop?”

The eight-day massacre in California, where Saturday night’s dance hall victims were among two dozen people killed in three recent attacks, reminded families of last year’s school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. On Tuesday, several Uvalde families and parents drove more than three hours to their state capitol to renew calls for tougher gun laws, even if they stand little chance of winning the Republican-controlled legislature.

In 2022, the United States marked its first deadly gun rampage of the year on January 23 – a year ago on Monday. Six massacres have claimed 39 lives by the same date this year, according to a database of massacres maintained by the Associated Press, USA Today and Northeastern University.

“People die every day. This should not be,” said Veronica Mata, whose 10-year-old daughter Tess was among the 19 children and two teachers killed in Uvalda. “If we need to come every week, then we will do this until we see that something changes.”

Americans began to endure mass shootings at churches and grocery stores, at concerts and office parks, and at the homes of friends and neighbors. Violence is blamed on hatred of other communities, grievances within the group, secrets within families, and bitterness among colleagues. But often it ends when a vindictive person grabs a gun.

It is sometimes unclear whether resentment is part of the equation.

“There was no obvious conflict between the parties. The man just walked in and started shooting,” Yakima Police Chief Matt Murray said after three people were shot dead at a Circle K store in Washington state Tuesday morning, adding to national grief.

U.S. arms sales hit historic highs as the coronavirus pandemic hit, the economy ground to a halt and people took to the streets to protest police brutality and racial injustice. Nearly 23 million firearms were sold in 2020, according to industry analysts. Growth largely continued into the following year, with sales jumping 75% in the same month that the US Capitol was attacked by a mob, and falling to around 16 million this year.

With a population of 333 million in 2022, experts estimate that there are 393 million guns in private hands in the United States.

Some Americans say they don’t feel safe anywhere. As a result, a third avoid certain places, according to the American Psychological Association, whose latest study shows that most Americans experience stress.

However, according to Alexander, there seems to be little willingness to consider some potential solutions, such as teaching conflict resolution skills in schools or redefining our social views of masculinity.

“Socio-emotional learning is just teaching kids how to identify their feelings, how to express themselves, how to deal with conflict – and why is there a taboo on that, especially at this particular moment?” she asked, referring to efforts to impose state and local bans on school programs.

“These children will become adults,” Alexander said. “If they don’t know how to deal with conflicts, we will see similar accidents.”

The bloodshed began on January 4 when a Utah man who was investigated but never charged over a 2020 child abuse complaint shot and killed his wife, her mother, and their five children before taking his own life. .

The database shows that 2,793 people have died in massacres involving four or more victims, excluding the killer, since 2006. The recent spate of violence followed a spike in 2022, with 42 massacres reported in the US, the second highest. account during this period.

Even gun violence, which claims fewer or no lives, can shock the conscience.

Such was the case in Virginia this month when a 6-year-old boy shot and killed his teacher in front of classmates. Newport News Mayor Phillip Jones said he could barely understand it. And on Monday, two teenage students were killed in a school shooting in Iowa.

In a shooting Saturday night in Monterey Park, 11 people were killed and nine injured when a 72-year-old man opened fire at the Star ballroom dance studio just hours after tens of thousands of revelers filled the streets nearby for the Lunar New Year celebration. . The gunman killed himself when police approached his van the next day.

Before people across the state could grasp the horror, seven farm workers were gunned down near San Francisco in the picturesque coastal community of Half Moon Bay. A 66-year-old colleague is in custody.

“At the end of the day, there are just too many guns in this country. And there must be a change. This is an unacceptable way of life and business for today’s society,” Dave Pine, president of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, said Monday following the mushroom farm shooting. “Our hearts are broken.”

For some, the violence is associated with a period of alienation in US history, when people became isolated from each other and lost the ability to cope with life’s adversity.

“The pandemic has intensified and accelerated many dangerous trends. We are in a social recession that is literally ruining our souls,” said Rev. Jonathan Lee Walton, president of Princeton Theological Seminary. He noted a decline in religious and civic participation.

“We are normalizing the diseases of desperation like loneliness, addiction and gun violence,” Walton said. “Social media, Zoom Church, remote work and virtual reality may be ‘convenient’, but they are morally anemic substitutes for human interaction.”

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