Hospital, church, school, cemetery: shootings shadow Americans at every stage of life

More than 230 mass shootings have been reported in the US this year

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Four people shot dead at a US hospital. Nineteen children and two teachers killed at a primary school. Two women murdered at a church. Two mourners injured at a cemetery.

The last 10 days of carnage in the US illustrates how the spectre of gun violence follows Americans at every stage of their life — and sometimes to their graves.

Even as the US has grown accustomed to mass shootings, the recent horror has struck a national nerve and prompted Congress to attempt to tighten the nation's notoriously lax gun laws, though meaningful reform has been thwarted time and again in the past.

More than 230 mass shootings have been reported in the US this year, an average of more than one per day, data from Gun Violence Archive show.

A bipartisan group of senators is “making rapid progress” on a modest gun package, Republican Susan Collins said, focusing on school security, mental health resources and possible “red flag” laws that would keep firearms away from individuals who may do harm.

Meanwhile, a US House panel passed a bill along partisan lines that would raise the age limit to purchase semi-automatic rifles and prohibit the sale of high-capacity magazines. The bill is all but assured to fail with nearly all Republicans in opposition to it.

Jim Jordan of Ohio, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, said the proposed bill would do little to prevent mass shootings.

“Until we figure out the why, we will always mourn losses without fixing the problem,” Mr Jordan said.

“The bill the Democrats are putting forward today does not help us understand what’s really driving some young men to commit these heinous acts.”

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Jerrold Nadler, a Democrat, questioned why Republicans were waiting to pass meaningful gun legislation.

“It has been 23 years since Columbine. Fifteen years since Virginia Tech. Ten years since Sandy Hook. Seven years since Charleston. Four years since Parkland and Santa Fe and Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh,” he said.

Thursday's hearing came before a gunman killed two women in the car park of an Iowa church and two people were injured during a burial at a cemetery in Racine, Wisconsin.

As politicians deliberated, police were debriefing reporters in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where a gunman killed four people at a medical centre.

And mourners in Uvalde, Texas, continued burying the 19 children and two teachers killed by an 18-year-old gunman at Robb Elementary School.

It was the deadliest primary school mass shooting in the US since 26 were killed — including 20 pupils — at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

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The May 24 shooting came as loved ones in Buffalo, New York, were still burying the 10 people shot dead by a white supremacist in a racially inspired attack at a local supermarket.

The 18-year-old gunman was charged on 25 counts, including a domestic terror charge. He pleaded not guilty on Thursday.

“Buffalo. Uvalde. Tulsa. The list goes on and on,” Mark Barden, co-founder of Sandy Hook Promise, said in a press release.

“Each time there is a mass shooting, our country expresses sympathy, grief and outrage. Then we move on until the next mass shooting — knowing full well that there will be another tragedy — whether at a supermarket, elementary school or hospital.”

Mr Barden, whose son Daniel died in the Sandy Hook shooting nearly a decade ago, said Americans must demand Congress take action.

“From my own experience, I know that the best way to honour the victims of gun violence is to take action to spare other families this horrific pain,” he said.

Speaking on the eve of Gun Violence Awareness Day in the US, President Joe Biden called on Congress to pass a nationwide assault weapons ban.

“This is not about taking away anyone's guns,” he said in a primetime address to the nation.

As vice president in the Barack Obama administration, Mr Biden led unsuccessful efforts to address gun legislation after Sandy Hook.

A bipartisan bill that would have expanded background checks failed to get past a Senate filibuster despite support from four Republicans.

Joe Manchin, a Democratic senator who co-sponsored the failed bill, reiterated his support for expanded background checks and “mental illness reform” after the Buffalo shooting last month.

Mr Biden said that Congress must meet the moment this time after years of failure.

“This time, we must actually do something,” Mr Biden said.

“We can't fail the American people again. And if Congress fails, I believe this time, a majority of the American people won't give up either.”

Updated: June 03, 2022, 8:58 PM
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