Three weeks and 36 mass shootings. This is America in 2023.

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At least seven people were killed in the state’s second mass shooting in 48 hours in Half Moon Bay, California.

San Mateo County Board of Supervisors Chairman Dave Payne told CNN Monday evening that a suspect in Monday’s shooting in the northern part of the state has been arrested.

On Saturday night, at least 11 people were killed and many more injured in a mass shooting in Monterey Park, California. The shooting occurred as the city’s large Asian American community celebrated the Lunar New Year weekend.

Much is unknown, but scenes of suffering and horror are more familiar in America. In fact, Monday’s mass shooting joins *37* others from the first three weeks of 2023, according to the Gun Violence Archive.

Communities from Goshen, California, to Baltimore, Maryland, are reeling, while others are bracing for the possibility of such violence in their own backyards.

“It’s time for a cultural celebration … and another community torn apart by senseless gun violence,” Vice President Kamala Harris told a crowd in Tallahassee, Florida, on Sunday. “All of us in this room and in our country understand that this violence must stop.”

But how that plays out with a divided Congress, widely differing policy prescriptions and a deeply entrenched gun culture remains to be seen.

President Joe Biden urged Congress on Monday to pass a pair of bills urging lawmakers to “act quickly” to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and raise the purchase age to 21.

“The vast majority of Americans agree with this common-sense action. There is no greater responsibility than to do everything we can to ensure the safety of our children, our communities and our nation,” he said in a statement.

According to the White House, Biden was briefed on the Half Moon Bay shooting by his homeland security adviser on Monday night.

Whatever you see, it’s bad.

Gunshot wounds are now the leading cause of death among people under the age of 24 in the United States, according to a study published in the December 2022 edition of Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

From 2015 to 2020, there were at least 2,070 unintentional shootings by children under the age of 18 in the US, according to a report by Everytown. That shooting resulted in 765 deaths and 1,366 injuries.

Uneven burden. A study published late last year in JAMA Network Open analyzed gun deaths over the past three decades — a total of more than 1 million lives lost since 1990.

Researchers have found that gun death rates have increased for most demographic groups in recent years — especially during the Covid-19 pandemic — but wide disparities persist. The homicide rate among black youth — 142 homicide deaths for every 100,000 black men ages 20 to 24 — is nearly 10 times higher than the overall gun death rate in the US in 2021.

Americans are armed like few others. The Switzerland-based Small Arms Survey estimates there are about 393 million privately owned firearms in the US. That’s 120 guns for every 100 Americans.

Calculating the exact number of civilian-owned firearms is difficult due to a variety of factors, including unregistered weapons, illegal trade and global conflict – no other nation has more civilian firearms than people.

According to an October 2022 Gallup poll, nearly 45% of US adults say they live in a household with a gun.

The Gun Violence Archive, like CNN, defines a mass shooting as one in which at least four people other than the shooter open fire.

But defining a mass shooting depends on who you ask.

For example, the Federal Bureau of Investigation cited a 2012 statute that defines “mass killing” as “three or more killings in a single incident.”

Mass Shooting Tracker, a crowd-sourced data base, defines a mass shooting as “a single outbreak of violence in which four or more people are killed.”

Everytown for Gun Safety defines a mass shooting as any incident in which four or more people, other than the shooter, are shot and killed.

Lack of a firm definition does not help in solving the problem. And squishiness opens up room to interpret the data differently. The conservative Daily Caller, for example, cited a definition of “public mass shootings” included in a 2013 Congressional Research Service report that identified only 78 between 1983 and 2012.

A 2019 research paper published in Injury Epidemiology drew attention to this issue: “The Gun Violence Archive recorded more mass shootings in 2017 at 346 incidents, while Mother Jones recorded only 11.”

The author’s conclusion? “Establishing a definition for a mass shooting improves the quality of the analyzes completed. This may lead to improvements in public awareness and understanding of mass shooting facts, but may also provide arguments to policymakers for legislation that reduces the burden mass shootings place on society.

It certainly doesn’t have to be this way. Countries that have introduced laws to reduce gun-related deaths have achieved significant changes, an earlier, in-depth CNN analysis found:

Australia. Two weeks after Australia’s worst mass shooting, the federal government implemented a new program, banning rapid-fire rifles and shotguns and unifying gun owner licensing and registrations across the country. Gun deaths in Australia will drop by more than 50% over the next 10 years.

A 2010 study found the government’s 1997 buyback program — part of the overall reform — led to an average 74% drop in gun suicide rates over the following five years.

South Africa. Gun-related deaths nearly halved in the 10 years since new gun legislation, the Gun Control Act of 2000, went into effect in July 2004. New laws make it more difficult to get a gun.

New Zealand. Gun laws were quickly amended after the 2019 Christchurch mosque shooting. Just 24 hours after 51 people died in the attack, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced she would change the law.

New Zealand’s parliament voted unanimously to change the country’s gun laws within a month, banning all military-style semi-automatic weapons.

Britain After a mass shooting in 1996 that tightened its gun laws and banned most private handgun ownership, gun deaths fell by nearly a quarter in a decade.

But America’s gun culture is a global outlier. For now, the deadly cycle of violence is destined to continue.

This story has been updated with additional statistics from the Gun Violence Archive.


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