Last weekend, there were at least nine mass shooting events — defined by at least four people shot — around the U.S. and many more with fewer victims. It was an ominous harbinger for the warmer summer months ahead, which is typically the most violent time, the New York Times reports.
In Louisiana, a seven-month-old baby was shot in the head in a drive-by shooting. In Norfolk, Va., an argument over a spilled drink escalated into gunfire outside a pizzeria, killing two people, including a reporter for the local newspaper.
In the Arkansas farming town of Dumas, an annual car show and community event to promote nonviolence became a bloody crime scene after a gunfight broke out, killing one and injuring more than two dozen people, including several children.
In Miami Beach, where spring break revelers have descended, officials declared a state of emergency and imposed a curfew after a pair of weekend shootings.
“We can’t endure this anymore, we just simply can’t,” said Mayor Dan Gelber. “This isn’t your father’s, your mother’s spring break. This is something totally different.”
The surge in gun violence that began in 2020 as the pandemic set in and continued through unrest after the murder of George Floyd, shows no sign of easing. Homicides were up 30 percent that year, the largest annual recorded increase.
While gun violence has not reached the record levels of the 1990s, and other types of crime have remained low, the continued drumbeat of shootings has forced officials like those in Miami Beach to act at a time when gun ownership has soared, and as some states have moved to pass laws to allow easier access to firearms.
“When picnics and outside events like this car show, when all that happens that’s a kickoff” to a period of violence, said Mark Bryan of the Gun Violence Archive. “And I’m just afraid the kickoff was this weekend.”
James Densley, a professor of criminal justice at Metro State University in Minnesota and co-founder of the Violence Project, said the types of shootings that occurred over the weekend in public spaces, like the one at the car show in Arkansas, attract attention because they took the lives of innocent bystanders. The majority of gun violence doesn’t affect strangers.