We call them “mass shootings.”
Thursday night, yet another. The Associated Press reported: “A gunman killed eight people and wounded several others before apparently taking his own life in a late-night attack at a FedEx facility near the Indianapolis airport, police said, in the latest in a spate of mass shootings in the United States after a relative lull during the pandemic.”
At least seven other people were injured. The gunman took his own life.
In response, President Joe Biden on Friday declared, “Gun violence is an epidemic in America.” He called, once again, for stricter gun control measures.
In March, eight people were shot to death at spas in the Atlanta metropolitan area, and 10 people were mowed down at a supermarket in Boulder, Colo. And the Indianapolis shooting was, as the AP noted, “at least the third mass shooting this year in Indianapolis alone.”
But what, really, is a “mass shooting?”
Shootings like the one in Indianapolis grab headlines. In a few short minutes, multiple lives are snuffed out by the gun. But in a nation that refuses to cure the plague of guns, every shooting is a mass shooting, part of a larger whole. We don’t acknowledge it, but every killing is a mass killing.
We are the masses. We are all affected. Guns, so ubiquitous, are a threat to us all.
There are masses of people who loved and cared for Adam Toledo, the seventh grader who was gunned down on March 29 during a police chase in Chicago’s Little Village. He had a gun, the police say. His killing and its dreadful fallout left a family devastated and a community bereft.
Thursday night, while activists marched to protest Adam’s killing, Lydia Jimenez, 17, was shot in the head and killed as she sat in a car in Little Village. She leaves masses of family, friends and neighbors to grieve an irreparable loss.
Masses of people are grieving for 20-year-old Daunte Wright, killed by a Minnesota police officer during a traffic stop. Police officials called it “accidental.”
Masses more are mourning the endless barrage of shootings and killings that come every weekend on Chicago’s South and West sides. Dozens of shootings. They are usually recorded in a few spare lines squeezed in between the Monday morning headlines.
Every murdered and injured soul was beloved by masses of people whose worlds are forever altered, who will now suffer endless trauma.
Every shooting across America, day by day, hour by hour, leaves a bloody legacy that is destroying families, communities, trust and hope.
These, too, are mass killings, caused by guns that end up in the wrong hands. Gun violence is embedded in our lives and culture.
We don’t call them mass shootings when they occur in certain corners of our world, in communities of color, where human life is devalued. Where victims, like 13-year-old Adam Toledo, are blamed for their own demise.
Yet every shooting brings physical and psychic wounds that may never heal. In Chicago, all the shootings cost our city hundreds of millions of dollars — for medical care, police officers, lawyers, judges, social workers and jailers.
We are the masses. We all pay the price. Gun violence is devouring our society, our culture and our humanity.
Until America commits to real, effective and meaningful gun control, we, the masses, will own the carnage.
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