The mass shooting in Illinois again shows that nowhere is safe from the contagion of gun violence in the United States

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Rapid bursts from a high-powered rifle brought the chilling reality that no one can be sure of being safe anywhere at one of the nation’s most unifying gatherings.

In that moment, Highland Park joined Uvalde, Columbine, Newtown and Parkland and a long list of cities and towns known across the country for the slaughter of innocent people in a contagion of gun violence that makes the United States an exception in the developed societies.

Litter strewn across the scene, a lone shoe, discarded backpacks, overturned camping chairs and empty strollers didn’t just tell the story of the precipitous panic of those who fled for their lives. It reflected yet another scene of normality shattered by a mass shooting. In this case, six people who simply went out to celebrate America’s birthday died. More than two dozen — aged 8 to 85, according to doctors — were injured.

Only the location on Monday – on a day dedicated to the national celebration – was variable. A similar horror unfolded in May at an elementary school in Texas and a supermarket in Buffalo, New York. Mass shootings targeted graduation parties last month in Texas and South Carolina. In Philadelphia, snipers pulverized a nighttime crowd. In Tulsa, Oklahoma, there was carnage at a medical center. In Brooklyn, the shooter was on the subway.
Television footage on Monday of police vehicles in Highland Park rushing to help under a waving American flag added a new ironic dimension to this latest horror. It took place as Americans gathered to celebrate the 246th anniversary of the freedoms inherent in American independence. Yet what unfolded encapsulates the quintessentially American cycle of gun death. When a gunman killed three people in a shooting at a shopping mall in Copenhagen, Denmark, over the weekend, it was shocking because it was unusual. But while Monday’s shooting outside Chicago was unexpected, another mass shooting in the United States was hardly a surprise.

“It is devastating that a celebration of America has been torn apart by our uniquely American plague,” Illinois Governor JB Pritzker said. “A day dedicated to freedom highlighted the one freedom that we as a nation refuse to defend: the freedom of our fellow citizens to live free from the daily fear of gun violence.”

Shocked residents recount a day of terror

Still, residents of the affluent, largely white suburb with a thriving Jewish community expressed shock that such horror had visited their city.

Some related scenes of injured victims on the sidewalk, families fleeing with their children in terror, and a man who put his children in a dumpster for safety.

It was “simply inconceivable in a community like Highland Park,” Jeff Leon, an eyewitness who initially thought the gunshots were Fourth of July fireworks, told CNN.

Democratic Representative Brad Schneider, who represents Illinois’ 10th congressional district, expressed similar disbelief. “No one thinks this could happen in our community, but it’s true across the country,” he told CNN’s Kaitlan Collins. And Dr Brigham Temple, medical director of emergency preparedness for NorthShore University HealthSystem, told reporters: “It’s a bit surreal to have to deal with an event like this.”

A common feeling among people caught up in such mass shootings is disbelief that their community, which they considered safe, had been harmed. But in a nation awash in weapons, nowhere is safe. Even at 4th of July celebrations across the country that were perfectly safe, how many attendees didn’t have a flash of concern about their safety? Having to think about the possibility of a mass shooting – in a school, a cinema or a place of worship – has become part of life since it happens so often. It’s another weight of anxiety and stress on a national psyche strained by the Covid-19 pandemic, soaring inflation and vicious political divides that have contributed to a pessimistic mood this July 4th.

Gun violence is not new to American society. But the proliferation of lethal weapons is now forcing people across the United States to confront the anxieties long endured by those who know about the horrific toll of guns in cities.

It’s not nearly as covered. But the high-profile shootings in Uvalde and Highland Park, for example, are taking place against the backdrop of relentless killings elsewhere.

There have been at least 311 mass shootings in the United States so far this year, including 14 in the first four days of this month alone, according to Gun Violence Archive.

And we are only in July.

gun control policy

The suspect, Robert E. Crimo III, has been taken into custody near Lake Forest, Illinois, authorities said at a brief press conference Monday night after an hours-long manhunt .

sergeant. Chris Covelli of the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force said earlier in the day that the firearm used in the shooting was a “high-powered rifle” but declined to elaborate. If confirmed, it would only be the last occasion that a weapon capable of rapidly firing multiple rounds to lethal effect has been used in a mass shooting.

President Joe Biden and gun safety advocates have called for the reinstatement of a national ban on assault weapons, which expired in 2004. There is no chance, however, that such a measure could squeeze through Republican opposition in the U.S. Senate due to filibuster rules that require a 60-vote majority for major legislation. The Democrats, with their wafer-thin majority, are unlikely to pass it on their own, and they don’t have the votes to change the filibuster rules.
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The Highland Park mass shooting is the first to capture national attention since the first major gun safety legislation was passed in Congress in a generation. It is far too early to know whether this measure – which has injected new funds into mental health resources and potentially slowed the rate at which people under the age of 21 can obtain firearms – could have prevented this tragedy or if the incident will expose its limited scope. Biden and the families of victims of the recent gun massacres had pleaded with Congress to do much more, but the Republican opposition is making it nearly impossible to pass meaningful revisions to gun laws, including audits expanded antecedents.

The July 4 holiday meant there was little immediate political reaction to Monday’s killings from Republicans, even as Democrats such as Vice President Kamala Harris and Pritzker demanded more gun restrictions.

The ongoing mass shooting rituals in the United States will likely see Republicans try to point to factors other than the availability of guns. It is true that most gun owners in America obey the law. But logic suggests that the massive proliferation of guns in the United States relative to other nations and the high incidence of mass killings are linked. And clearly more people with guns — what the National Rifle Association would call “good guys with guns” — isn’t stopping all of these killings.

Second Amendment activists insist that the right to possess high-powered weapons is part of every American’s right to bear arms. And the conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court is considering easing existing gun restrictions. All of this suggests that Monday’s shooting won’t result in any action that will make America safer. The heavyweight passing even limited gun safety legislation last month suggests that a stalled political system has already done all it can bear.

Yet each recent mass shooting raises the same questions, which are particularly acute on a day when America celebrates its freedoms.

Why do the rights of those who insist that they have the constitutional blessing of possessing such lethal weapons outweigh the rights of others to life – especially since a majority of Americans support a more comprehensive gun control? And why, for example, should mums, dads, children or grandparents so often run for their lives?

“It can happen anywhere,” Miles Zaremski, who witnessed the shooting in Highland Park, told CNN Monday afternoon. “I lived many years on this planet and what I observed shook me to the core.”

“If it can happen on the 4th of July, in a peaceful, law-abiding community that we have in Highland Park…it can happen anywhere.”

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