Sabrina White, Editor-in-Chief
The small town of Sutherland Springs, Texas, about 40 miles southeast of San Antonio, has been added to the growing list of mass shooting locations in the United States. 26 victims were shot and killed at a church service on Sunday, Nov. 5 at First Baptist Church. This shooting comes on the heels of the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, the attack at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas, where 59 people were killed.
The event is the worst mass shooting in the state of Texas. According to ABC News, the gunman was seen at a gas station across from the church before crossing the street and opening fire on churchgoers. Devin P. Kelley entered the church and continued shooting, before being engaged by a local resident, who attempted to disarm the man. The gunman dropped his rifle and fled, while another resident chased after him. Kelley was later found dead after crashing his car in a neighboring county with a severe gunshot wound. It is unclear whether the gunshot was self-inflicted or if he was shot by another person.
Currently, authorities have not released any motives to the public. The ages of the victims ranged from five to 72, and include nine family members who were attending the church service together, according to ABC news.
Four out of five of the deadliest mass shootings in modern history have occurred within the last year and a half, raising questions about gun laws, mental health, background checks and the consequences of these attacks. The highly publicized nature of these attacks has caused those who argue for harsher gun laws, restrictions, and perhaps even an amendment to the constitution to strengthen their movements in the wake of such violence. These arguments have been circulating for quite some time, and with the recent tragedies that have struck the U.S. and the world in terms of mass shootings, bombings, and other violent attacks, many are calling for more to be done to prevent these types of events from happening.
Gun violence seems to be increasing across the United States, but there has been published data that says the opposite. In an article published by the Washington Post, it is reported that gun violence has been steadily decreasing since the 1990s. In 1993, there were seven homicides by firearm for every 100,000 Americans, according to data presented by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The same data set shows that in 2013, the number of homicides by firearm per 100,000 people had declined by about half to 3.6 homicides.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has also published statistics available to the public, suggesting that gun violence was more prevalent in previous years in America than it is today, and reached an apex in the 1980s. These statistics seem to suggest that gun violence has indeed been decreasing in America, but it does seem that there is much more violent crime and gun violence present today. This could be due to the high publicity that these events receive through modern media outlets, as we have many more ways to report news today. News and tragedies like this can be circulated faster through social media, hourly newscasts, and other internet-based media, which may give the impression that violence happens more often than it did in previous years.