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US sets new record for deadliest 6 months of mass killings

People pray at a memorial at the entrance to the Covenant School in Nashville, Tenn., on March 29.Wade Payne / AP file

The unrelenting gun violence and slaughter of innocent people across the US has set a new, gloomy record for the deadliest six months of mass killings in the country since at least 2006.

In the first six months of this year, the United States endured a whopping 28 mass killings – all but one of which involved guns – leaving 140 people dead and hundreds injured in a constant cycle of violence, according to a database maintained by The Associated Press (AP) and USA Today national newspaper in partnership with Northeastern University, which have tracks this large-scale violence dating back to 2006, AP reported Friday.

The 2023 milestone, the report noted, “beat the previous record of 27 mass killings, which was only set in the second half of 2022,” citing Northeaster University’s Criminology Professor James Fox as saying that he “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 added. “The fact that there’s 28 in half a year is a staggering statistic.”

A mass killing is defined in the US as an occurrence when four or more people are slain, not including the assailant, within a 24-hour period.

Local experts such as Fox attribute the surging gun violence and carnage across the US to a growing population with an increased number of guns, though they further point out that mass killings represent only a fraction of the country’s overall incidents involving firearms.

According to the database, at least four of the mass killings in the first half of 2023 involved the use of the military-style AR-15 rifle, which is designed to kill people quickly and in large numbers.

Nearly all of the mass killings in the first half of this year -- 27 of 28 -- involved guns, the report added. The other was a fire that killed four people in a home in Monroe, Louisiana. A 37-year-old man was arrested on arson and murder charges in connection with the March 31 deaths.

Despite the unprecedented carnage caused by gun violence, the politically powerful US lobby group, National Rifle Association (NRA), maintains fierce opposition to regulating the purchase and access to firearms, including AR-15-style semi-automatic machine guns 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 in a statement quoted in the report. “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.”

The recent mass shooting at an elementary Christian school in the southeastern city of Nashville, Tennessee, prompted some of the fiercely pro-gun Republican lawmakers of the GOP-dominant state to call for passage of a vague legislation that would supposedly keep guns away from “people that could harm themselves and others.”  

According to the report, Tennessee’s Republican Gov. Bill Lee 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 report underlined, adding that the Republican-led Legislature adjourned earlier this year without taking on gun control, prompting Lee to schedule a special session for August.

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