Mass shootings mask the daily U.S. gun toll, which is devastating

In Portland, Oregon, hundreds of people had gathered to watch an illegal street racing, but Cameron Taylor opted to leave as the crowd became increasingly rowdy. Taylor and a friend were on their way to their car when gunfire broke out a short while later. Taylor was struck by a stray bullet. That evening, there were several street takeovers in the city, which made it difficult for police to maintain control. They also had trouble locating the victims of three shootings that took place during the commotion. Erin Russell, a family friend, told The Associated Press that Taylor's companion "placed him in the car and drove him out to get him to the hospital, but he was not able to make it and that friend called his parents" to tell Taylor was dead. Taylor, 20, passed away on Sunday, the same day when four prominent public shooting sprees in Bend, Oregon, Phoenix, Detroit, and Houston made headlines around the country. In the midst of the daily toll of gun violence that has come to characterize Portland and a number of other American cities since the epidemic, his murder mostly went unreported. In some significant U.S. cities, like New York and Chicago, homicide rates appear to be declining, but in other areas, especially those with higher gun ownership rates, killings are on the rise. In Portland, there have been more than 800 shootings so far this year, and the homicide rate has increased by 207% since 2019. This week's gun violence in Phoenix, according to police chief Jeri Williams, was the worst she had ever witnessed in her 33 years of service. How many more police officers need to be killed? How many more people of the community need to die before our community stands up? She stated this following a weekend that saw 17 shootings and 11 homicides reported across the city. "This is not just a Phoenix police issue; this is a community issue," she added. Police are now on edge as Labor Day weekend approaches with its customary end-of-summer celebrations, and some are increasing patrols as they prepare for more possible violence. Three illegal street races that took place last weekend in Portland attracted hundreds of spectators and caused major intersections to be closed for hours. Police were too busy responding to three homicides and nine non-fatal shootings in the preceding 48 hours to maintain control. The day after a gunman in Houston shot five neighbors, killing three of them, another guy in Houston shot two sisters before he committed suicide. As part of a concerted crackdown, police in Phoenix have seized 711 firearms and made 525 arrests related to firearms in the last two weeks. According to police, there have been about 90% of homicides with guns this year. Authorities in Detroit, where a man is accused of randomly killing three people on city streets last weekend, are also stepping up their efforts to stop gun violence in high-crime areas through Labor Day. Let's put an end to the discussion of how we can't deal with local criminality. At a City Council meeting this week, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler used an expletive after police Chief Chuck Lovell once again requested more officers. "Let's stop telling criminals they're going to get away with it," Wheeler said. The message that we can't assist our residents with fundamental criminal justice concerns is that we don't have the personnel, Wheeler added, "should stop being used at every opportunity." "We need to come up with better solutions to handle this situation." The shootings that occurred last weekend, which included a heavily armed attacker who stormed a supermarket in central Oregon, random shootings in Detroit, and a man who opened fire while wearing body armor in Phoenix, were shocking and terrifying, but experts said they don't accurately reflect the overall toll that gun violence is having on American society. Despite headlines that cause fear in many Americans, James Fox, a professor at Northeastern University who has built a database of mass killings dating back to 2006 with The Associated Press and USA Today, said that victims killed in mass shootings make up about 1% of all those killed in gun homicides nationwide. All four shootings over the weekend spread dread due to the randomness of the violence even though they didn't all fulfill the criteria for a mass killing (four or more persons killed in a 24-hour period, excluding the attacker). "Those hardly ever make the news. They don't typically startle people because they rationalize that they aren't their relatives, according to Fox. "We have up to 20,000 gun killings annually, and the majority of those involve just one victim. Rarely are there two, three, or more people present. Another factor was the pandemic and the societal upheaval it brought about. According to Jeffrey Butts, head of the research and evaluation department for the John Jay College of Criminal Justice at City University of New York, eight million Americans acquired their first firearm between 2019 and 2021. "There were 400 million firearms in use already. So, he continued, "When you increase that and add a lot of first-timers to the community, you get accidents, you get rash behavior, and you get people retaliating with their guns because they are now in their pockets to little insults and confrontations. In the meantime, Taylor's Portland friends and family are in mourning. Russell remarked that the adored big brother who enjoyed cars and barbecues and spending time with his family was "at the wrong place at the wrong time." "This is a tragic loss for him because he has so many friends and family members who adore him."

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