Commentary: We are facing a tsunami of gun violence | Columnists


The Free Lance-Star asked Clint Van Zandt – a Fredericksburg resident and retired FBI agent who was the bureau’s chief hostage negotiator, was a supervisor in the Behavioral Analysis Unit and was part of the analysis team that identified the Unabomber – to give their perspective on the growing tide of violence in America. Today, in part one, Van Zandt examines the extent of the gun problem in America. Part II, which will take place on Tuesday, looks at what we can do to start fixing it.

Few can deny that there is a gun-related epidemic in America. And while some may say, “Guns don’t kill people, people kill,” guns certainly make killing easier. And the wrong person with a gun can kill a lot of people.

In fact, handguns, followed by other firearms, then knives are the most common lethal weapons.

To those who say “more people are killed with hammers than with guns”, forget that; hammers rank 7th, along with other blunt objects, as the killer’s weapon of choice.

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Today, gun violence surpasses car crashes as the leading cause of death among young Americans.

The magnitude of the problem is truly staggering.

As of June 2, 2022, Gun Violence Archive lists over 18,000 gun-related deaths in America this year, including 8,000 homicides/murders and unintentional deaths, and over 10,000 suicides.

Some 465 children aged 0 to 11 were killed or injured, along with nearly 2,000 teenagers. In addition, 23 law enforcement officers have died from gunshot wounds in the line of duty so far.

These tragedies follow the 45,000 firearm-related deaths recorded in 2021.

As bad as those numbers are, the sharp increase in mass shootings is even more surprising.

Last Memorial Day weekend, for example, 14 mass shootings (including one in which four or more people are injured or killed, excluding the shooter) took place in America. In Chicago, a city with strict gun laws, nine were killed and 42 injured, representing a 53% increase in shootings from the 2021 Memorial Day weekend celebration in that city.

There have been 233 mass shootings this year. And since the 2013 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in which 20 children and six adults were killed, those tragic incidents have nearly tripled.

Mass shootings account for only about 1% of the 45,000 people killed by firearms each year, but that’s cold comfort for any parent with school-aged children.

Both children and adults are victims of these events.

On May 13, for example, 17 people (ages 15 to 47) were shot while leaving an NBA game in Milwaukee. Ten people were arrested and nine firearms were recovered from the scene. It was just one of five shootings in that city at 9 p.m. that night.

If this rate of mass shootings continues; we are on track to see 540 such incidents in 2022.

It’s one thing that several adults with guns shoot each other after a basketball game; it’s very different for a future armed mass murderer to enter a school with the intent of murder and mayhem, usually followed by his suicide (statically a young man) or his death by suicide by cop.

Although shootings have been with us since the invention of the firearm, many trace the origin of school shootings to the University of Virginia when, in 1840, a UVA student shot and killed his teacher. by right.

Modern school shootings date back to the April 1999 shooting deaths of 12 students and a teacher at Columbine High School in Colorado by two armed students.

In fact, many of the more than 1,000 school-related gun incidents since Columbine identified by The Washington Post, more than 200 of which met their criteria of occurring on K-12 campuses before, during, or after class, assigned students to more than 330 schools.

The Associated Press reports that in the 14 mass shootings (their definition: four or more people killed) at American schools since 1999, 169 victims have lost their lives, while victims of domestic violence are five times more likely to be killed. be killed if their attacker has access to a firearm.

We are experiencing a wave of violence that is quickly turning into a tsunami. But we are not innocent passers-by on a beach unaware of what awaits us.

The problem becomes, how do we approach it? To say that the problem has become beyond our reach is simply not enough.

In the next article, I’ll outline 10 things we could do right now to start getting this problem under control.

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