Last week’s mass shooting was closer to home than most. Four people died, including the gunman, and 14 were wounded in Hesston on Feb. 25.
There were other mass shootings in February: A man shot to death four family members at a house in Phoenix early on Feb. 23 and died in a confrontation with police officers. On Feb. 20, a man shot and killed six people and injured two in and around Kalamazoo, Mich. On Feb. 8, eight people were shot, one of them killed, at a Mexican restaurant in Rochester, N.Y. On Feb. 7, two people were killed and nine injured at a nightclub in Orlando, Fla.
The Christian Science Monitor reported 22 mass shootings in 2015 — only slightly above average for the past 15 years. “In these 22 incidents – which averaged about one every 16 days – 133 people were killed and 52 were wounded. The shooters were usually white men acting alone, and they typically were motivated by personal disputes, rather than politics or ideology.”
For 2016, Hesston could be the 49th mass shooting of the year, or it might only be the second, depending on which definition of “mass shooting” is used.
The Washington Post reported that the higher number includes at least two cases where no one died but multiple people were injured by shots from pellet guns. The lower number defines a mass shooting as four shooting deaths by a lone gunman, which can include the shooter’s death.
The Centers for Disease Control reports that the number of firearms deaths is only slightly lower than the number of motor vehicle traffic deaths (33,635 and 33,804, respectively, in 2013). More people died from poisoning (48,545). A CDC study released in 2013 said use of firearms in self defense can be an “important crime deterrent.”
There are no simple answers to reducing gun violence in America, but we should try. And yet, short of taking away everyone’s guns, what measures could have prevented any of the tragic events? If we enact a law because it feels good to “do something,” and then that law doesn’t work, what have we accomplished?