CHICAGO (AP) – A wave of shootings in recent days has put law enforcement on edge, with some warning that a turbulent brew from a pandemic, racial unrest, historic spikes in arms sales and a rancid election year could make it a particularly deadly summer .
While the number of mass shootings has fallen sharply this year, the other non-suicidal gun deaths are at a faster rate than last year, according to incidents tracked by the Gun Violence Archive.
That increase came before the beginning of summer, when traditionally there is a peak during the warmer months when people go out more and before Independence Day, which was historically one of the deadliest days of the year.
Weapons experts say the statistics reflect a US audience increasingly stressed by the corona virus that has flared up the economy and locked them up at home, deep disagreements over justice and police and the political divisions of a presidential election year.
“There is something going on right now, these underlying tensions,” said James Densley, a professor of law enforcement and criminal justice at Metropolitan State University. “Everyone has been locked up with the pandemic for so long and then we had such an explosion of anger and grief after the murder of George Floyd.”
In recent days, more than 100 people have been injured in shootings in Chicago, including a 3-year-old boy who was killed while driving his father in the back seat of a car. Police said the boy’s father was the intended victim.
In North Carolina, three people were killed and six were injured early Monday when unknown gunmen opened fire at an impromptu block party in Charlotte. An annual birthday party in Syracuse, New York, was marred last weekend by gun violence in which nine people were injured.
In Minneapolis, people fled a popular nightlife and shopping area when a gunman killed one man and injured eleven others early on Sunday.
And for the second time in less than 48 hours, there was a shooting in the Seattle protest zone. A 17-year-old victim was shot dead late Sunday evening in the area known as CHOP, for ‘Capitol Hill Occupied Protest,’ a day after a 19-year-old man was fatally shot and a 33-year-old man was seriously injured. in there.
Densley said the rate of gun violence may herald a tough summer ahead.
“You have people who have been frustrated, angry, struggling in life and at home processing all this and often processing it alone, perhaps with the help of the Internet,” he said. “Once the door opens, there may be a resurgence of violence.”
The scattered weekend footage comes when police face a backlash accused of using excessive force against blacks and other minorities, calling for their departments to be “defused” by shifting money from law enforcement to social services and other community investment.
“If you invest in healing and restorative justice and bring the community to the table to heal and solve its own problems, you will see more and more that you don’t need police intervention,” said Kofi Ademola, an adult mentor of the anti-violent organization Good Kids Mad City in Chicago.
Millions of dollars now funding the Chicago Police Department could be more effective in nurturing mental health programs, housing, supporting victims of gun violence, and driving the creation or growth of neighborhood businesses, he said.
“Now is the time to hold them accountable and act as a people to say that we can keep our communities together without more control,” said 20-year-old Jai Simpson, a member of Good Kids Mad City who grew up in the city of Zuidkant.
Chicago Police Commissioner David Brown, who took over the division in April, is encouraged by police partnerships with community groups, social services and other government agencies.
“The police can’t do it alone,” said Brown. “We need partners to be effective and protect this city. We are now asking for a little help. You give this department a little help and this city will be safer against violent offenders. ”
Historical numbers of background checks on the purchase of firearms were conducted this year. Weapon rights advocates say the numbers reflect an audience concerned about personal safety and willing to defend themselves. Those concerns are only heightened by calls to expose the police, they say.
Firearm advocates sparked this fear when many Atlanta police officers refused to show up for their services, after two white officers were criminally charged with the deadly shooting of a black suspect.
Antonia Okafor Cover, director of outreach for gun owners in America, tweeted, “If you live in Atlanta, THIS may be the time to buy that gun you’re considering getting … The social experiment of relying on yourself safety may blossom. #ATLcopwalkout “
Proponents of arms control say that more firearms will only lead to more violence.
“There are many people who experience stress they have never experienced in their lives. These are very difficult times,” said Kris Brown, president of the Brady arms group.
There may be a silver lining: this year is the pace to have half as many mass shootings as the record-breaking 2019. One big reason is the “contagion effect,” said James Alan Fox, a criminologist at Northeastern University, who worked with The Associated Press and USA Today follow mass murders until 2006.
With people more focused on a deadly virus and other misery, mass shootings are no longer getting the attention that could lead to accidental instigation of such crimes. A similar effect occurred in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, he said.
“We are distracted. We are no longer obsessed with mass shootings as we have been for years, ”said Fox. “The less we obsess about and talk about it and are afraid of it, the less we fuel the contamination.”
Foody reported from Chicago and Pane reported from Boise, Idaho.
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