The United States is closing out 2023 with a staggering 650 mass shootings, averaging to about two every day. This marks the second-highest number of mass shootings since the Gun Violence Archive began tracking data in 2014. The non-profit organization compiles information from local newspapers and police departments to create a comprehensive national database on gun violence. Mass shootings, as defined by the GVA, consist of incidents in which at least four individuals are injured or killed in a single event, excluding the perpetrator.
Unfortunately, this year’s total surpassed only by 2021, when the country saw 690 mass shootings. The number had briefly dropped to 647 in 2002 but has been on the rise again. The root of the problem lies in the fact that there are more firearms than people in the US. Studies by the Swiss research organization Small Arms Survey estimated that there are approximately 120.5 firearms per 100 residents, with a total of 390 million firearms in circulation.
The increased access to firearms, particularly in the wake of the pandemic, has contributed to the escalating issue of mass shootings. According to Kelly Drane, a researcher at the Giffords organization, there has been a surge in gun purchases in recent years. The deadliest shooting of 2023 occurred in Lewiston, Maine, where an Army reservist claimed the lives of 18 individuals and injured 13 others in a horrific shooting at a children’s tournament and a restaurant.
The violence has not been isolated to one region, with mass shootings occurring in various states such as California, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Texas. Despite the brutality of these events, attempts to reform gun laws have often faced significant opposition. Calls for stricter legislation, including a ban on assault rifles, have been met with resistance, particularly from influential stakeholders like the National Rifle Association. These challenges have hindered significant progress in addressing the issue of mass shootings.
As the year comes to a close, the United States is left grappling with the devastating reality of 650 mass shootings in 2023, prompting renewed discussions on gun control and the prevention of such tragedies in the future.