A man pulled out a gun on Wednesday (6) after a fight in Raleigh, North Carolina, and the gunshots killed his son – a two-year-old baby -, and another man, 27, in addition to of hurting the child’s aunt. On the same day in Philadelphia, a man fired more than 10 shots to kill a person. Shortly afterwards, in the same city, another shooting killed another person.
On Tuesday (5), the US recorded dozens of such crimes. On Monday (4), the country’s independence holiday, the last major mass shooting took place: a man opened fire from a roof on a crowd and killed seven people, in addition to wounding more than 40, in Highland Park, in the region. from Chicago.
The records appear in the monitoring of the Gun Violence Archive (GVA), a project that follows gun violence in the United States since 2013. Data from the NGO indicate that, this year alone, 10,260 people were killed by firearms in the country, or one person every 26 minutes for the first 186 days of the year between January 1st and July 6th.
It is a number that has been increasing year after year. In 2014, 12,352 were killed by firearms. In 2021, 20,944. As well as the total number of victims, the number of gunshot wounds also grows each year, which increased by 86% from 2014 to 2021.
Although on the rise, the numbers of firearm-related deaths are below those recorded in Brazil, one of the most violent countries in the world, where more than 36,000 people were murdered with guns last year, according to the latest data from the Brazilian Forum. of Public Security.
But the issue has gained more and more attention in the United States due to the increase in mass shootings, which are defined by the GVA as episodes in which four or more people are killed or injured, as in the 4th of July attack in Illinois. This year alone, there have been 320 such incidents, more than 12 a week. This type of attack has also been growing: in the whole of 2021, there were 692 occurrences, against 272 in 2014, according to the entity’s monitoring.
The mass attacks have caused consternation in American public opinion, especially after two recent massacres in May: a racially motivated bombing in Buffalo, New York, which killed 10 black people; and the attack on a kindergarten in the city of Uvalde, Texas, in which the gunman killed 19 children and two teachers.
Whenever such episodes occur, the discussion on the ease of access to firearms in the country returns to the public debate. The Highland Park shooter, who killed seven people on the 4th of July, had five weapons, including rifles and revolvers, all purchased legally.
The issue divides the United States, both voters and politicians: Republicans advocate a minimum of restrictions on the purchase and possession of guns, while Democrats support increasing control.
President Joe Biden, a Democrat, advocates restricting access and has proposed banning the sale of semi-automatic weapons with high-capacity cartridges or, failing that, raising the minimum age to buy such weapons from 18 to 21.
He was unable to move forward with his projects and, in the opposite direction, still suffered setbacks: at the end of June, the Supreme Court, with a conservative majority, ruled that the carrying of weapons in public cannot be restricted by state laws, making room for more armed people circulate on the streets.
On the other hand, after the May massacres, Republicans and Democrats reached an agreement and approved a package of measures that includes expanding background checks on firearm buyers and more federal funding for mental health programs.
Although the measures are considered timid to stop the increase in violence in the country, the agreement was hailed as the biggest reform in the legislation of weapons in three decades. On Monday, after the Illinois attack, Biden praised the deal, “which includes actions that will save lives,” he said. “But there’s still a lot of work to do, and I’m not going to give up fighting the gun violence epidemic,” he said.
In addition to data from the Gun Violence Archive, figures from the FBI, the US federal police, point in the same direction. The most recent data, for 2020, counted 21,500 murders (with all types of weapons, including knives and other bladed weapons), the worst year of violence in more than two decades, since 1998.
Over time, the geographic distribution of violence has changed. Cities that once concentrated most of the country’s violent crime, such as New York and Los Angeles, have become safer since the 1990s. On the other hand, regions in the interior of the country, such as Albuquerque (New Mexico), Memphis (Tennessee), Milwaukee (Wisconsin) and Tulsa (Oklahoma), which broke historic murder records. As a proportion of population, the state of Louisiana has recorded the highest levels of homicide, according to FBI figures.