High-profile mass shootings tend to follow familiar storylines. There’s the story of the before: The shooter experienced mental health issues. An extreme risk protection, or red flag, law — weak, not enforced, or, as in Tennessee, nonexistent — didn’t stop the killing. The firearms were legally purchased.

In the immediate after: Lawmakers say they’re praying for victims. Others say it’s time to move beyond that. Survivors of other mass shootings are retraumatized. The president calls on an idle Congress to ban assault weapons. Republicans say gun policies aren’t to blame. News outlets publish stories about how mass shootings follow familiar storylines.

Then there’s the long after, which is a little less predictable and often depends on who is in power. In states controlled by Democrats, like Michigan and Colorado, lawmakers move to pass gun restrictions; gun rights groups, especially after Bruen, vow to sue, and some sheriffs promise they won’t enforce them. In Republican states, like Tennessee and Texas, policymakers often try to relax them. In either case, another mass shooting often follows. 

These high-profile killings are just a fraction of American gun violence, but the news cycles that follow and magnify them often elide that fact. As The Trace has reported, there’s a bigger picture: One of tragedy and spectacle, unsettled definitions and media distortion of who gets to be a victim. Our guide to understanding mass shootings in America is here.

What to Know Today

The Nashville shooting victims have been identified as Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs, and William Kinney, all 9 years old; Cynthia Peak, 61; Mike Hill, 61; and Katherine Koonce, 60. [BuzzFeed News]

Authorities currently believe the Nashville shooter was transgender, though there’s been no confirmation from someone close to the suspect. Nonetheless, conservatives and right-wing media figures have tried to shift the conversation from gun reform to anti-trans rhetoric. [The 19th]

Denver mayoral candidate Terrance Roberts knows about the city’s youth violence because he’s lived it. In a race with no clear front-runner, he believes a platform built from his past — as a shooting survivor, an incarcerated person, and a youth violence intervention worker — may help him beat out career politicians. [Mother Jones]

How has American gun violence changed parenting? [The Washington Post]

The gun lobby has given $15 million to current GOP members of Congress throughout their careers. The top two recipients, Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana and Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, each received more than $440,000 as of the 2022 midterms. [OpenSecrets]

The House Judiciary Committee postponed a meeting on nullifying the Biden administration’s pistol brace regulations, which require the gun accessories be registered with the ATF, following the Nashville shooting. The parent of a Parkland victim was arrested during a hearing on the regulations last week after he and his wife disrupted the meeting to speak about their son. [The Hill/Politico]

Chicago police union President John Cataranza predicted that up to 1,000 officers would leave the force if Brandon Johnson wins the mayoral election over Paul Vallas, his preferred candidate. Meanwhile, experts say one of Vallas’ plans to beef up law enforcement staffing — enticing retired officers to return to the ranks — might not work. [The New York Times/WBEZ]

Therapists with the Uvalde Love Project know the southwest Texas community hasn’t healed from the Robb Elementary School massacre. While much of the rest of the country has moved on — or turned their focus to yet another tragedy — they’re still trying to help. [Austin American-Statesman]

The North Carolina Legislature voted to repeal the state’s permit-to-purchase law, overriding a veto by a Democratic governor for the first time since 2018. [The Charlotte Observer]

The president of Temple University in Philadelphia is resigning. His nearly two-year tenure was marked by concerns about violent crime near campus, which came to a head after a Temple Police officer was shot and killed in February. [WHYY]


Do Armed Guards Prevent School Shootings?: A reader asks if increasing armed school security could reduce deaths from active shootings or deter the attacks in the first place. Experts say the data is not encouraging. (April 6, 2019)

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