Imagine walking into a birthday party in Colorado, taking a family trip to Times Square, or being in class in sixth grade in Idaho, and you’ve successfully envisioned three places that have experienced gun violence over the course of the last week. Only one of the three meets the Gun Violence Archive’s definition of a mass shooting, which requires four more people to be shot, excluding the shooter, but they illustrate an all too real pandemic coursing through the United States. The gun violence pandemic isn’t an insidious, novel virus, but rather a persistent and seemingly unrelenting tragedy with a vice grip on the US. Since May 1st, and at the time of writing, according to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been twenty-six (26) mass shootings in the United States. This number will likely be higher by the time of publishing. For the year, as NPR reports, the United States is currently experiencing more than one mass shooting a day and approximately ten per week. By definition, this does not even begin to encompass all gun violence experienced thus far this year in the US, but it does cover such infamous incidents of the eight people with families and friends shot dead on March 15 in Atlanta, Georgia, and the ten in Boulder, Colorado, barely a week apart.
RIGBY, IDAHO–According to official statements made after the shooting to Local News 8 in Idaho, Rigby Middle School within Jefferson County Joint School District #251 saw two students and one employee injured after a sixth-grade girl opened fire with a handgun concealed in her backpack. The incident occurred at approximately 9:08 a.m. local time on May 6th, 2021, according to Sheriff Steve Anderson. Further, he stated that none of the injuries appeared to be life threatening. The shooting ended when a teacher, Krista Gneiting, was able to wrestle the gun from the student and hand her over to law enforcement. Idaho State Police, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, Bonneville (ID) County Sheriff’s Office, Idaho Falls Police Department, Rigby Police Department, Rexburg (ID) Police Department, and the Madison County Sheriff’s Office were all involved in the response and investigation of the shooting, according to Anderson. Dr. Michael Lemon of Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center stated “each of these individuals sustained non life-threatening extremity injuries.” Further, Mark Taylor from the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office of Jefferson County went on to state that, while not making a determination while the investigation was on-going, three attempted murder charges were being contemplated by officials.
MANHATTAN, NEW YORK–Times Square, perhaps one of New York’s most iconic tourist destinations, experienced a barrage of gunfire that injured three shortly before 5:00 p.m. local time on Saturday, May 8th, 2021, according to New York City Police Department Commissioner Dermot Shea. The Commissioner went on to highlight the heavy police presence in the area, indicating that officers only had to travel on block to reach the scene of the mass shooting. The three victims included, according to Commissioner Shea, “a female hispanic four years old from Brooklyn, shot in the leg, and expected to undergo surgery at Bellevue Hospital. We have a 23 year-old female tourist from Rhode Island. . .[who] decided to come to Times Square to enjoy the sights. . .[L]ast, we have a 43 year-old female hispanic from New Jersey.” The shooting occurred after an altercation between two to four men erupted into gunfire at the well known destination. As of this writing, NBC News reports a suspect, Farrakhan Muhammad, who is named only because he is still at large, has been identified but not apprehended. The victims were all innocent bystanders according to the NYPD. Rather than focusing on the victims of the incident, Commissioner Shea took the opportunity to express his frustration and alluded to the dispute between himself and Mayor Bill De Blasio, as reported by the Gotham Gazette, over the course of policing in New York City. Commissioner Shea stated, “[w]e have been taking guns off the street in New York City at an alarming rate over the last two years, and it’s time now that we have consequences for those.” As NBC further reported the victims are Skye Martinez, 4, Wendy Magrinat 23, and Marcela Aldana, 43.
COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO–According to an official statement released by the Colorado Springs Police Department, a male shooter, and “boyfriend of one of the female victims” entered a birthday party and opened fire killing five attendees and himself at the scene. One additional adult victim was shot and pronounced dead at the hospital. Although present, none of the children attending the party were targeted, according to the statement. The incident occurred on May 9, 2021, just after 12:15 a.m. local time. Police Chief Vince Niski, a police officer in Colorado Springs since 1989, stated “Words fall short to describe the tragedy that took place this morning. . .My vow to this community and to the families who have lost someone today, is that this department will do everything we can to find you the answers you deserve and be here for you with an unwavering support.” Shortly before the writing of this article, the Colorado Springs Police Department’s official Twitter account stated, “[w]e know there are still a lot of questions into what exactly happened, and all the details in between. Our investigators, detectives, and victims advocates are determinedly working to find those answers.” The victims, as identified by the New York Post are Melvin Perez, Joana Cruz, Jose Gutierrez, Mayra Perez, Sandra Ibarra, and Jose Ibarra.
If the pace of mass shootings in the United States continues throughout the year, there will be approximately 520 that qualify under the Gun Violence Archive’s definition. More articles will have to be written and countless other families ripped apart. Gun Violence Archive provided statistics for shooting-related deaths in the United States for the year 2020. Even with the pandemic, 43,553 people lost their lives to gun-related violence, including 24,156 deaths by suicide. Tragically, 2021 does not appear to be on track for any vast improvements.
Christopher Becker is a civil litigator practicing in New York. Christopher graduated from the University of Alabama’s School of Law in 2016. There, he was a Senior Editor of the Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Law Review.