Guns: US on Track to Set Record in 2023 for Mass Killings

Veronica Rodriguez, left, of Dallas, becomes emotional as she gathers in a circle with others in prayer by a makeshift memorial near the mall where several people were killed in Saturday's mass shooting, Monday, May 8, 2023, in Allen, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
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Country is seeing an average of more than one mass killing weekly – amid little political prospect of meaningful gun control


After a series of shootings and other attacks, 2023 is on track to be the worst in recent history for mass killings in the US.

Mass killings are defined as incidents in which four or more people are killed, not including the shooter or other type of perpetrator. According to data from the Gun Violence Archive, the US is on pace for 60 mass killings this year. There were 31 in 2019, 21 in 2020, 28 in 2021 and 36 in 2022.

The US is seeing on average more than one mass killing weekly.

As of 7 May 2023, there had been 202 mass shootings – defined by the archive as involving at least four people killed or injured by firearms, excluding the shooter – since the beginning of the year.

The incidents have spanned the country, from Chicago to Mississippi and Tennessee to Texas. They have occurred at shopping malls, schools and parties and in countless neighborhoods.

They have also sparked a bout of soul-searching in a country where scores of millions of guns are in public hands and there is little political prospect of meaningful gun control of the type common in many other countries.

Yet another mass shooting took place in Allen, Texas, on Saturday, leaving eight dead. The gunman was also killed. The shooter opened fire at a shopping mall, spraying bullets before being killed by a police officer.

On Sunday, Texas saw a mass killing: a driver plowed his truck into a crowd at a bus stop near a shelter serving migrants in the southern city of Brownsville, killing eight.

Mass shootings have attracted the most attention in the US and overseas. No other industrialised country outside war and conflict zones experiences such habitual gun violence in civic life.

In Texas, gun laws were repeatedly loosened after mass shootings. It has had 41 mass shootings so far in 2023. It has not even been one year since 19 children and two teachers were killed in a shooting at Robb elementary school in Uvalde, the deadliest shooting in the state and the third-deadliest school shooting in the US.

At more than 1m, Texas is also the state with the most registered guns.

State lawmakers voiced their outrage at the latest tragedy.

A Democratic state senator senator, Roland Gutierrez, said: “Texas lawmakers need to have the political courage to get something done about gun violence. It is sad that this has become our everyday reality. Thanks to the Republican regime that has led Texas for the last 30 years, gun laws are looser than ever.”

Sheila Jackson Lee represents Texas’s 18th district, which largely covers Houston, in Congress. She said: “I’m just so tired and hurt and devastated by the continuing mass shootings in this state and in this nation … Eight innocent people are dead – dead by gunfire. Guns again.

“Of course, I offer my prayers and concerns for those families who are struggling with the loss of their loved ones. But I also ask the question: ‘When are we going to confront the real cause?’ And that is a proliferation of guns, guns, guns.”

Joe Biden has said Republicans should back his calls for more gun control measures.

After the shooting last year in Uvalde, Biden oversaw a bipartisan gun control bill that enacted some modest proposals. But as the waves of shootings have intensified, he has pleaded with Congress to enact tougher measures such as banning assault weapons. There has been little sign of that plea being taken up.

That pattern repeated itself after the Allen shooting.

“Such an attack is too shocking to be so familiar,” Biden said on Sunday.

“Once again I ask Congress to send me a bill banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Enacting universal background checks. Requiring safe storage. Ending immunity for gun manufacturers. I will sign it immediately. We need nothing less to keep our streets safe.”

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