The appalling normalcy of gun violence in America

Less than two months ago, Ian Long walked into the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks and began firing two semiautomatic handguns, killing 11 people in the bar and wounding an arriving sheriff’s deputy (who tragically was killed when struck by a round fired by another arriving officer) before turning one of his guns on himself.

In 2018, California endured 24 incidents in which at least four people were hit by gunfire, one of the definitions of a mass shooting. The Borderline attack was the deadliest, accounting for a quarter of the 50 deaths statewide in such shootings. An additional 136 people were shot in those incidents but survived, according to statistics gathered by the Gun Violence Archive.

Nationwide, there have been 337 mass shootings killing 354 people and wounding or injuring 1,341. That’s a lot of carnage arising from anger or mental illness and too-easy access to firearms.

And the scope of our problem is even broader, because most of our killings and shootings occur in ones and twos. As of early Friday morning, the Gun Violence Archive had counted 56,026 incidents of guns fired at humans nationwide in 2018, or about 155 a day. That’s a pace of 6.4 shootings an hour.

The body count? An astounding 14,392 people killed — and that doesn’t include gun suicides, which amount to almost twice the number of people shot by others. An additional 27,766 people were wounded or injured in those 56,062 gunfire incidents.

The most appalling part? This is what we accept as normal.

Happy New Year.

A native of Maine, Scott Martelle is an opinion writer for the Los Angeles Times.



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