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Mass Killings Reached New High in Past 6 Months

The United States has suffered from the deadliest six months of mass killings recorded since at least 2006, the Associated Press reports. The death toll rose just about every week, from Jan. 1 to June 30, with the nation enduring 28 mass killings, all but one of which involved guns, claiming 140 lives. “What a ghastly milestone,” said Brent Leatherwood, whose three children were in class at a private Christian school in Nashville on March 27 when a former student killed three children and three adults. “You never think your family would be a part of a statistic like that.” Leatherwood, a prominent Republican in a state that hasn’t strengthened gun laws, believes something must be done to get guns out of the hands of people who might become violent. A mass killing is defined as four or more people are killed, not including the assailant, within a 24-hour period. A database maintained by The Associated Press and USA Today in partnership with Northeastern University tracks this large-scale violence dating back to 2006. The 2023 milestone beat the previous record of 27 mass killings, which was only just set in the second half of 2022. James Alan Fox, a criminology professor at Northeastern University, never imagined records like this when he began overseeing the database about five years ago. “We used to say there were two to three dozen a year,” Fox said. “The fact that there’s 28 in half a year is a staggering statistic.”


Experts attribute the rising bloodshed to a growing population with an increased number of guns in the U.S. Mass shootings often attempts to reform gun laws, but those efforts are rarely successful. Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, a Republican, had urged the General Assembly in the wake of the Nashville school shooting to pass legislation keeping firearms away from people who could harm themselves or others, so-called “red flag laws,” though Lee says the term is politically toxic. Getting such a measure passed in Tennessee is an uphill climb. The Republican-led Legislature adjourned earlier this year without taking on gun control, prompting Lee to schedule a special session for August. Despite the unprecedented carnage, the National Rifle Association maintains fierce opposition to regulating firearms, including AR-15-style rifles and similar weapons. “Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’ constant efforts to gut the Second Amendment will not usher in safety for Americans; instead, it will only embolden criminals,” NRA spokesman Billy McLaughlin said. “That is why the NRA continues our fight for self-defense laws. Rest assured, we will never bow, we will never retreat, and we will never apologize for championing the self-defense rights of law-abiding Americans.”

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A daily report co-sponsored by Arizona State University, Criminal Justice Journalists, and the National Criminal Justice Association

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