New year brings a grim wave of mass killings across America
Thirty-nine lives claimed by violence so far in 2023
Metroland Media Group Ltd.
CANADA & WORLD
A year ago, the U.S. marked its first deadly gun rampage of the year on Jan. 23. By the same date this year, there have been six mass killings that have claimed 39 lives, leaving communities nationwide reeling from the onslaught of violence. Eleven people killed as they welcomed the Lunar New Year at a dance hall popular with older Asian Americans. Seven Chinese and Latino farmworkers killed amid the serene beauty of California’s Half Moon Bay. A 17-year-old mother and her baby shot dead in an attack that killed six people across five generations of her family. “In the end, there are simply too many guns in this country. And there has to be a change. This is not an acceptable way for a modern society to live and conduct its affairs,” San Mateo County Board of Supervisors President Dave Pine said Monday, in the wake of the mushroom farm shootings about 30 miles (48 kilometres) south of San Francisco. “Our hearts are broken.” The grim news from Half Moon Bay came as Californians were still trying to process the weekend carnage at the ballroom dance club in Monterey Park, a bustling Asian American community at the eastern edge of Los Angeles. Americans in recent years have learned to endure mass shootings in churches and grocery stores, concerts and office parks, and inside the homes of friends and neighbours. The violence can stem from hatred toward other communities, grievances within a group, secrets within families and bitterness among colleagues. But it often ends when a man with a grudge grabs a gun. Sometimes, it’s not even clear a grudge sparked the outburst. “There was no apparent conflict between the parties. The male just walked in and started shooting,” Yakima Police Chief Matt Murray said after three people were shot dead at a Circle K convenience store in Washington state early Tuesday, adding to the nation’s grief. A database of mass killings maintained by The Associated Press, USA Today and Northeastern University shows 2023 off to a particularly deadly start. The bloodshed began on Jan. 4, when a Utah man, investigated but never charged over a 2020 child abuse complaint, shot and killed his wife, her mother and their five children before killing himself. The database shows 2,793 people have lost their lives in mass killings — those that involve four or more victims, excluding the killer — since 2006. And the recent wave of violence follows a spike in 2022, when the U.S. recorded 42 mass killings, the second highest tally in that time span. And even gunfire that takes fewer lives, or none at all, can shock the conscience, as was the case in Virginia this month when a six-yearold boy shot and wounded his teacher in front of his classmates.