Gunfire Driving Record Pace for Mass Killings in U.S.

April 21, 2023


The U.S. is setting a record pace for mass killings in 2023–roughly one death a week so far this year.

As of Friday, 17 mass killings have taken the lives of 88 people in 111 days. Each of these killings involved gunfire. 

A drive-by shooting in Hartford, Connecticut Thursday night that wounded three people and killed a 12-year-old boy was the 166th mass shooting in the U.S. this year, as defined by the Gun Violence Archive as four or more victims killed or wounded. It was the 36th since a shooter opened fire at a Christian school in Nashville on March 27, killing six, including three 9-year-olds.

This means the U.S. in 2023 is currently averaging more than one mass shooting per day. In fact, the Hartford drive-by on Thursday was the sixth mass shooting so far this week.

According to analysis by the Associated Press and USA Today, mass killings are happening at a frequency of one every 6.53 days. 

According to the AP/USA Today database, so far 2,842 people have died in mass killings in the U.S. since 2006 when the data first began to be collected. 

However, the current pace of mass shootings doesn’t necessarily guarantee a new annual record. In 2009, the carnage slowed, and the year finished with a final count of 32 mass killings and 172 fatalities—just barely exceeding the averages of 31.1 mass killings and 162 victims a year.

“Here’s the reality: If somebody is determined to commit mass violence, they’re going to,” said Jaclyn Schildkraut, executive director of the Rockefeller Institute of Government’s Regional Gun Violence Research Consortium. “And it’s our role as society to try and put up obstacles and barriers to make that more difficult.”

But there’s little indication at the federal level that any major gun policy changes are on the horizon, though there has been a trickle of new laws passed at the state level recently.

After the school shooting in Nashville, President Biden called on Congress to act, urging lawmakers to reinstate the  assault weapons ban that he helped pass in 1994 as a Senator, but which lapsed in 2004.

However, when Democrats last attempted to push through the legislation, there were not enough votes to pass it in Congress. That was July 2022 when Democrats had majorities in both the House and Senate. Now Republicans hold the House majority.

A red flag law championed by Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) in the aftermath of the Nashville shooting  is not likely to be passed by the Republican-majority state legislature after the NRA called such bills a “serious risk” to the 2nd Amendment.

Gov. Lee did, however, sign an executive order strengthening background checks in Tennessee.

In Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) last week signed two new laws mandating state-wide background checks ahead of purchases and that gun owners safely store all firearms and ammunition when around minors.

And in Washington state this week the legislature passed a ban on dozens of semi-automatic rifles. Gov. Jay Inslee (D) is expected to sign it into law.

However, 26 states are currently “permitless carry,” meaning no permit is necessary to carry a firearm in public.

Read more exclusive news from Political IQ.

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