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Is US serious about its Gun Problem? 2023 on track to become Deadliest Year

Lewiston, USA, October 26:  A massive manhunt is underway in Maine as the nation grapples with the aftermath of two deadly mass shootings. The tragic events unfolded at a local bowling alley and a restaurant in Lewiston, leaving 22 people dead and numerous others wounded.

Law enforcement has identified Robert Card as a person of interest in the case and issued a public warning on Facebook, emphasizing that he should be considered armed and dangerous.

Although the motive behind the shootings remains unclear, it has been reported that Card, a 40-year-old retired military officer, had previously expressed concerns about his mental health, including auditory hallucinations.

Lewiston’s mayor, Carl Sheline, expressed his profound grief for the city and its residents in the wake of the incident. He urged citizens to follow safety guidelines and adhere to a shelter-in-place order, emphasizing the critical importance of personal and community safety.

Rising Tide of Mass Shootings in the US

These tragic events are part of a disturbing trend of mass shootings in the United States.

In 2023, the country is on track to surpass the record set in 2021, with 565 mass shootings documented so far, according to the Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit organization that tracks incidents of gun violence. The Archive defines a mass shooting as an incident in which four or more individuals are shot or killed, excluding the shooter.

The prevalence of mass shootings in the US has surged in recent years. In 2018, there were 355 mass shootings, followed by 414 in 2019. In 2020, the number climbed to 610, and a shocking 689 incidents occurred in 2021, with 645 in 2022.

The Associated Press, which maintains a gun violence database, reports that as of now, 188 people have lost their lives to gun violence in 2023. The Gun Violence Archive also reveals that, up to October 2, there have been 14,401 gun-related deaths, including suicides and homicides, along with 28,348 gun injuries.

Deadliest Mass Shootings in 2023

Among the numerous mass shootings this year, several have left indelible marks. One of the most significant incidents occurred in Monterey Park, California, in January, where 12 people lost their lives during a Chinese New Year celebration.

Two days later, another mass shooting took place in Half Moon Bay, California, leaving four dead and three injured.

In March, a 28-year-old assailant killed three children and three adults at a small Christian elementary school before being neutralized by law enforcement.

The following month, a 25-year-old bank employee, Connor Sturgeon, perpetrated a shooting at his workplace, resulting in five deaths, including a close friend of Kentucky’s governor, while live-streaming the attack on Instagram.

On May 6, a 33-year-old gunman opened fire outside a mall in Dallas, Texas, taking lives. His social media posts had indicated white supremacist and misogynistic views. A police officer swiftly ended the rampage within four minutes.

July brought three tragic shooting incidents in Philadelphia, Louisiana, and Georgia, occurring within a span of a single day.

US Gun Legislation

Despite the staggering number of fatalities, gun ownership remains a contentious issue in American society. In June, President Joe Biden signed a gun safety package passed by Congress, marking the first significant gun reform bill from Congress in decades.

However, a substantial portion of the population supports the right to own and possess firearms. In recent years, numerous states have relaxed regulations surrounding gun ownership, with 27 states allowing residents to carry handguns without a permit and permitting school staff and teachers to carry firearms on campuses.

Jeffrey Swanson, a professor at Duke University who examines policies to reduce gun violence, highlighted the contrasting approach taken by the United States, stating, “Other countries look at this problem and say, ‘People walking around in the community with handguns is just way too dangerous, so we’re going to broadly limit legal access to that and make exceptions on the margins for people who might have a good reason to have a gun.’

Here we do just the opposite: We say that, because of the way that the Supreme Court interpreted the Second Amendment, everybody has the right to a gun for personal protection, and then we try to make exceptions for really dangerous people, but we can’t figure out who they are.”

As the US grapples with the grim reality of rising gun violence, it remains a topic of national debate and concern.

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