The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) defines a “mass murderer” as someone who “kills four or more people in a single incident, typically in a single location” and not including the killer who takes their own life.
The federal government has never defined “mass shooting” as a separate category. There is no federal crime definition of the term. Although there is no official or number as the threshold that distinguishes a mass shooting from other violent crimes involving a firearm, the common approach by the media and law enforcement is to adopt the FBI’s criteria for a mass murderer setting casualty threshold of 4 fatalities by firearm, excluding the offender or offenders.
SEVEN MASS SHOOTINGS IN SEVEN DAYS
In seven days, there have been 7 mass shooting in the United States. The 7 mass shootings are as follows:
On March 22, in Boulder, Colorado, Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, 21, of Arvada, near Denver, opened fired at the King Soopers store killing 10 people, including a Boulder police officer, ranging in age from 20 to 65. The motive in the Boulder killings was not immediately known. Subsequent reports are that Alissa is suffering from severe mental illness and a violent personality disorder. He purchased the assault weapon he used a mere 6 days before the shooting.
On March 16, Robert Aaron Long, 21, of Woodstock, Georgia., was arrested for shooting to death 8 people, including six women of Asian descent, at a string of Atlanta-area spas. Long told authorities he had a “sexual addiction” and wanted to get rid of the temptation that the establishments represented. The murders fueled fears that the victims were targeted because of their race. Authorities said Long frequented the places in the past and may have been lashing out but said that racism did not appear to be the motive.
On March 17, in Stockton, California, 5 people who were preparing for a vigil in Stockton, in California’s Central Valley, and were shot in a drive-by shooting. None had life-threatening injuries.
On March 18, in Gresham, Oregon, 4 victims were taken to the hospital after a shooting in the city east of Portland.
On March 20, in Houston, Texas, 5 people were shot after a disturbance inside a club. One was in critical condition after being shot in the neck, the rest were in stable condition.
On March 20, in Houston Dallas, 8 people were shot by an unknown assailant, one died.
On March 20, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 5 were injured and 1 person killed during a shooting at an illegal party. According to the Philadelphia Police Commissioner, there were at least 150 people that fled and believing they had to flee for their lives.
On March 27, 2021 it was reported that at least 10 people were shot and two of them killed in a “chaotic” night of violence in Virginia Beach, the police said early Saturday morning. Officers arrived at a “resort area” on Atlantic Avenue late Friday night and found several shooting victims, the police said. Eight people were taken to the hospital with serious or life-threatening wounds, the police said. A woman who had been shot died at the scene. A man who was believed to be involved in the shooting on Atlantic Avenue was later shot and killed by officers, the police said.
HEARING IT ALL OVER AGAIN
The Boulder, Colorado and the Atlanta, Georgia incidents are again spurring discussion about gun control legislation in the United States. After the shootings we are again going through another news cycle of outrage, mourning and demands for gun control action. We are hearing the interviews of the survivors and witnesses of the shootings. Newscasters are warning “the images you are about to see may be too graphic, so you may want to turn away” from your TV set. There will be news accounts of the funerals and eulogies given.
Reports are being made how easy it was for the killers to get the guns. The killer’s FACEBOOK posts or YouTube videos that give hints about what they were about to do are being explored by authorities. Law enforcement and private citizens will describe the shootings as acts of “pure evil”. Reports are being made of the killer’s arraignments and the charges they are facing with the likelihood they will be sentenced to death or spend the rest of their lives in prison or in a mental institution.
Prosecutors are saying that these are the very type of crime that the death penalty is deserved to be imposed. Corrections officials will declare that the defendant has been placed on a suicide watch or that he has attempted suicide. We will hear calls for congress to enact responsible gun control laws and restrictions such as extensive background checks, outlaw gun shows, prohibit the manufacture and sale of the AR-15, prohibit the sale of firearms to anyone 18 or younger and outlaw the manufacture of high-capacity clips.
Psychologists and psychiatrists will give opinions about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and that survivors will need to be treated for with counselling given on how to cope with death and loss of their loved ones. News accounts will include stories about the heroes and first responder’s reactions during the shooting and of those who lost their lives and of the lives they saved. There will be reports on the background and life of the troubled shooter and the mental illness they endured and what broken people they are.
The mantra “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” will be heard over and over again, as well as “if you take away guns from the law abiding, only the criminals will have guns.” The NRA will once again exert its influence over elected officials and make millions of campaign contributions to those running for office, both on a national and local level.
We will hear again, and again and again gun owners and gun advocates say the only way their guns will ever be taken away from them is when their gun is “pried from their cold dead hands”, even the high-capacity magazine rifles designed only to kill mass numbers or used by the military to inflict as much death as possible.
THE WEAPON OF CHOICE
The on-line publication Mother Jones has compiled a database of mass shooting from 1982 to the present. The data base is broken down by location, date, summary of the facts, the number of fatalities, and the number of injured. You can review the entire Mother Jones data base here:
From 1982 to 2021, there have been 121 mass shootings in the United States. Since January 8, 2001, the United States has had 69 mass shootings with 607 people shot and killed.
The mass shooting with guns in the last 11 years include: Orlando, Florida (49 killed, 50 injured), Blacksburg, Va. (32 killed), San Ysidro, Cal (21 killed), San Bernardino, (14 killed), Edmond Oklahoma (14 killed), Fort Hood (13 killed), Binghamton, NY (13 killed) Washington, DC (12 killed), Aurora, Colorado (12 killed), Sandy Hook Elementary School, Newtown, Conn (21 children and 6 adult staff members killed) and the largest mass shooting in this country’s history that occurred in Las Vegas, Nevada with at least 59 dead and at least 515 wounded and the Parkland/Stoneridge High School shooting that resulted in 17 children’s deaths, El Paso, Texas, 23 dead and 23 injured, Atlanta, Georgia (Atlanta Message Parlor) 10 killed, Boulder, Colorado (Boulder Supermarket) 8 killed.
“The deadliest mass shootings … have had one thing in common: the perpetrator used an assault rifle. These weapons possess an incredible amount of killing power, and amplify the destructive will of the person who carries out an attack. Nine people died and 27 were injured in a mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio in an attack that lasted 32 seconds. The killer used an AR-15 style assault rifle. Since 1999, there have been 115 mass shootings with 941 people were killed and 1,431 were injured. Of those 115 attacks, 32 — just over a quarter — involved semi-automatic rifles. But those attacks accounted for 40% of all deaths and 69% of all injuries. Since 2017, 12 of the 31 mass shootings involved assault rifles — which caused 39% of the deaths and 92% of the injuries. That includes the Las Vegas massacre — which alone accounts for almost 40% of all mass shooting injuries since 1999. The perpetrator of that shooting used over 20 assault rifles during that attack.”
PUBLIC OPINION SUPPORTING GUN CONTROL GROWS
On October 20, 2019 , NPR reported on a Pew Research Center survey released. The percentage of Americans who favor stricter gun laws was found to be on the rise, though significant partisan divisions persisted. The survey found that 60% of Americans say gun laws should be tougher, up from 57% in 2018 and 52% in 2017.
The study indicated that while a solid majority of Americans favor stricter gun laws, support remains split down party lines. 86% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents said gun laws should be stricter than they are today, compared with 31% of Republican counterparts.
Large majorities of Democrats and Republicans somewhat or strongly support barring people with mental illnesses from purchasing guns, as well as making private gun sales and sales at gun shows subject to background checks. But when it comes to banning high-capacity ammunition magazines and assault-style weapons, the parties diverge. Nearly 9 in 10 Democrats favor each of these proposals, compared with roughly half of Republicans.
The survey explores the relationship between gun control and gun rights. Overall, it found that 53% of Americans believe it is more important to control gun ownership, while 47% say it is more important to protect the right of Americans to own guns. Men are more likely to favor protecting gun rights, while women are more likely to favor controlling gun ownership.
The link to the full report is here:
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
It’s more likely than not that public support of gun control laws will continue to increase as more mass shootings with assault weapons occur, while all Republican Senators will continue to oppose such legislation.
There are many components to America’s mass shooting epidemic. We need more mental health treatment facilities, more parental involvement, better educational systems, early childhood intervention to prevent child abuse and to identify and get help and counseling to emotionally and violent children and more to secure our schools. This will take years but something can and needs to be done immediately.
There is no doubt that this country’s pandemic of mass shootings continues. Yet all we do about it is bury, debate and wait for the next mass shooting. After so many mass killings, it is difficult to refute that something needs to be done and done now about semi-automatic and automatic guns such as the AR-15 which are the type used in all the mass shootings.
The Unites States Congress needs to enact the following:
1. Ban the manufacture and sale of all assault weapons and regulate existing assault weapons under the National Firearms Act of 1934, and initiate a federal gun buyback program.
2. Ban “bump-fire stocks” as was used in the Las Vegas mass shooting and other dangerous accessories.
3. Impose limits on high-capacity magazines.
4. Implementation of background checks on the sale of all guns.
5. Close the “Charleston loophole” or “delayed denial” where federally licensed dealers can sell guns if three business days pass without FBI clearance.
4. Call for the update and enhancement of the federal National Instant Criminal Background Check system (NCIS).
5. Institute mandatory extended waiting periods for all gun purchases.
6. Implement mandatory handgun licensing, permitting, training, and registration requirements.
7. Prohibit firearm sale or transfer to and receipt or possession by an individual who has: (1) been convicted in any court of a misdemeanor hate crime, or (2) received from any court an enhanced hate crime misdemeanor sentence.
8. Institute mandatory child access prevention safe storage requirements and prohibit the sales of handguns with “hair triggers”.
9. Provide more resources and treatment for people with mental illness.
10. Enhance accountability of federally licensed firearms dealers.
11. Implement micro stamped code on each bullet that links it to a specific gun.
12. Produce ‘x-mart guns’ with Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) or biometric recognition (fingerprint) capability.
13. Limit gun purchases to one gun per month to reduce trafficking and straw purchases.
14. Prohibit open carry of firearms.
15. Digitize Alcohol, Tobacco and Fire (ATF) gun records.
16. Require licensing for ammunition dealer.
INCLUDE GUN CONTROL IN NEW MEXICO LEGISLATURE SPECIAL SESSION
Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has announced that she will be calling a special session to deal with the issue of legalization of recreational cannabis. She should include gun control legislation for the special session.
The New Mexico can and should consider any number of gun control measures. Those could include:
1. Repeal the New Mexico Constitutional provision that allows the “open carry” of firearms. This would require a public vote and no doubt generate heated discussion given New Mexico’s high percentage of gun ownership for hunting, sport or hobby.
2. Ban the sale of all assault weapons.
3. Prohibit in New Mexico the sale of “ghost guns” parts. Ghost guns are guns that are manufactured and sold in parts without any serial numbers to be assembled by the purchaser and that can be sold to anyone.
4. Requiring in New Mexico the mandatory purchase of “liability insurance” with each gun sold as is required for all operable vehicles bought and driven in New Mexico.
5. Enact a gun violence restraining order and extreme risk protection process to temporarily prohibit an individual deemed by a judge to pose a danger to self or others, from purchasing or possessing firearms or ammunition and allow law local law enforcement to remove any firearms or ammunition already in the individual’s possession.
6. Restrict and penalize firearm possession by or transfer to a person subject to a domestic violence protection order or a person, including dating partners, convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor.
7. Mandate the school systems and higher education institutions “harden” their facilities with more security doors, security windows, and security measures and alarm systems and security cameras tied directly to law enforcement 911 emergency operations centers.
What is needed at a minimum on federal level are prohibitions and the ban of the manufacture, sale and distribution to the general public of semi-automatic firearms, AR-15 style rifles, assault weapons, semi-automatic pistols, semi-automatic shotguns and weapons that result in the most murders in the shortest amount of time.
Until the United States congress does something to enact reasonable and responsible gun control measures and ban assault weapons, we can expect many more mass shootings at soft targets such as schools, movie theaters, malls, department stores and major public events like concerts and state fairs. The mass shootings will again be followed by the predictable cycle of news coverage, more outrage, more nighttime candle vigils, more funerals, more condolences, more rhetoric demanding action. Congress can end the madness but only they have the backbone to act.