Mass shootings have become a near-daily occurrence in America. As of Thursday, according to the Gun Violence Archive, there had already been 72 in the first 47 days of 2023. There are so many that, as a society, we simply can’t remember them all. The ones we do tend to be the worst of the worst — attacks that were motivated by hate, or targeted schools, or happened on live TV.
The Trace’s Jennifer Mascia has been tracking the days these “worst-of-the-worst” shootings occur. She found 39 days of the year that mark the anniversary of two or more high-profile mass shootings, looking at incidents from the start of the 20th century. About a quarter of these days mark the anniversary of three such incidents. On April 3, for example, a former employee of a Corpus Christi, Texas, refinery inspection company killed five people in 1995; a man opened fire during a citizenship class in New York in 2009, killing 13; and six people were killed in a shootout in Sacramento, California, in 2022.
As the anniversaries overlap, so do the survivors. Just this week, alumni of Oxford High School in Michigan found themselves amid gunfire for the second time in 15 months, this time on the campus of Michigan State University. A Sandy Hook survivor was there, too. In El Paso, Texas, a survivor of the 2019 Walmart massacre was at a mall where a shooter killed one person and injured three on Wednesday, according to a family member. The mall is less than half a mile away from where the mass shooting four years ago took place.
Sandwiched between those two shootings was the five-year anniversary of the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. That shooting sparked national outcry and a sustained youth movement, and transformed survivors into celebrity activists. Their group, March for Our Lives, began to focus on all forms of gun violence in the U.S., not just the small fraction that represents mass shootings. But after half a decade and a climbing number of “worst-of-the-worst” shootings, the activists have faced the limitations of their advocacy — and some are choosing to step out of the spotlight.
“People like for me to tell them what to do. But it’s getting harder to find something to say,” Parkland survivor X González wrote last month, in an essay for The Cut on the intense pressure of being a young gun reform activist. They ended the essay with a somber piece of advice: “Treat this like it could happen to you. Because it can.”
From Our Team
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What to Know This Week
Robb Elementary School’s locks malfunctioned the day of the massacre last year, and three of the building’s doors were unlocked, contrary to school policy. A teacher who worked in one of the rooms where children were killed had reportedly alerted administrators about issues with his door multiple times, but they never issued a work order. [Texas Observer]
Alex Jones’s bankruptcy filing shows the right-wing conspiracy theorist and talk show host has been “holding firearms” for people who participated in the Capitol insurrection. [Bloomberg Law]
An Oregon appeals court ruled that local governments can’t declare themselves “Second Amendment sanctuaries” because it violates a law giving the state the power to regulate guns. [OPB]
Daniel Defense invoked the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, the gun industry’s legal shield when their weapons cause harm, in a motion to dismiss a negligence lawsuit from the mother of a Uvalde victim. The lawsuit accuses the firearm manufacturer of marketing practices that “prime young buyers to purchase AR-15-style rifles as soon as they are legally able.” [CourtListener/The Texas Tribune]
Police killings account for an estimated 1 in 20 gun homicides in the U.S., and the numbers aren’t falling. [The Guardian]
Club Q, the queer nightclub in Colorado Springs where a gunman killed five people in November, says it will reopen in the fall with additional security measures. Many sites of mass shootings never reopen. [Them/The Washington Post]
The gunman who killed 10 Black people in a racist attack at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, last year was sentenced to life in prison without parole. [NBC News]
Five years after Parkland, kids are experiencing gun violence in schools at staggering rates. Lawmakers have done little to prevent campus shootings, and the onus of keeping kids safe has fallen on schools themselves — and spawned a billion-dollar private security industry peddling unproven methods. [The Washington Post]
New Democratic trifectas in Michigan and Minnesota are advancing gun safety legislation after years of being stymied by GOP control of governing bodies. Lawmakers in both states are shepherding proposals that would expand background checks and institute red flag laws. [Detroit Free Press/Associated Press]
Oklahoma lawmakers have filed more than 100 bills to expand gun access, including legislation that would empower county sheriffs to arrest federal employees who enforce laws that are “counter” to the Second Amendment. [The Oklahoman]
Three Michigan State University students were killed in the mass shooting Monday. These remembrances are sourced from Bridge Michigan, The State News, CNN, USA TODAY, People, and Brian Fraser’s obituary.
Arielle Diamond Anderson, 19, loved photography, and her art had been featured at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, her aunt said. She was “super smart,” and despite being in her sophomore year at MSU, had already amassed enough credits to qualify as a junior. Her family said she was working hard to finish school so she could move into her chosen field, medicine, as soon as possible. “Everybody loved her,” her aunt said. “Nobody’s perfect, but she’s close as they come.”
Brian Fraser, 20, “could never have too many irons in the fire” — a business student and president of his fraternity, he was a “gentleman” who embraced the responsibility that comes with leadership. Fraser competed on his high school’s swim team and worked as a lifeguard for five years. “Brian lived his life full of love,” his obituary read. “He was compassionate, caring and well rounded.”
Alexandria Verner, 20, was a straight-A student, her grandfather said, and an all-season athlete in high school, playing on the volleyball, basketball, and softball teams. She “walked the walk every day and modeled what high character and integrity and kindness was all about,” said the superintendent of her high school, who first met Verner when she was on a youth basketball team in kindergarten. He continued: “If you knew her, you loved her.”
“There’s this thing in communities that are heavily policed called ‘the twirl’ — where if you’re standing outside of your buddy’s house and an officer rolls by, he’ll stop and twist his finger in a circular motion, and you’re supposed to lift up your shirt and twirl around to show him you don’t have a gun on you. It’s that type of thing. It’s unconstitutional, it’s wrong, but they get away with it.” [USA TODAY]
“Every now and then, you get a little mad, you get a little angry, and you’re like, ‘Why are we doing this again?’ Nothing has changed.”Matt Riddle, whose daughter survived both the Oxford High School and Michigan State University shootings, to The Washington Post