The Sikh temple shooting that left six worshipers dead led the nation to grapple with the familiar emotions of grief and anger. But this shooting was also greeted with a sense of resignation: Yet again.
Such mass shootings have become an all-too-common part of America culture, claiming the lives of at least 195 victims since 2003 and injuring more than 207 others. Those numbers are based, in part, on the Los Angeles Times’ growing database of the deadliest U.S. mass shootings, as well as incidents that have dominated the headlines in recent years.
It’s the fourth such rampage this year alone, following quickly on the heels of the Aurora, Colo., shooting that took place when a gunman opened fire in a movie theater last month, killing 12 and injuring 58. In April, a former student at Oikos University in Oakland, Calif., walked into a classroom and opened fire on his former classmates, killing seven and injuring three. And in June, a gunman walked into a Seattle cafe and opened fire, killing five and injuring one.
In addition to the 30 people killed in those four mass shootings, 65 people were injured.
At this rate -- it’s only August -- the U.S. could be on a sad track to reaching a regrettable new benchmark.
At least 34 people were killed and 38 injured over the course of three mass shootings in 2009, the year that included the Fort Hood rampage. Two years before that, at least 51 people were killed and 33 injured in three mass shootings, including the notorious Virginia Tech shooting.
Something to keep in mind: Calculating data about mass shootings in America is difficult, in part, because there is no single definition of a mass shooting.
Generally, that horrific label is placed on an incident in which a gunman opens fire in a public place -- regardless of whether that person was targeting specific victims, or strangers who happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. By contrast, that label is less likely to be used in cases where the assailant knows his or her victims intimately, such as in a case involving domestic violence.
Still other experts calculate mass shootings as any shooting that involves multiple victims -- even if there are no fatalities.
The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, outspoken advocates for what it calls sensible federal and state gun laws, for example, keeps a running tally of “mass shootings” on its website. That tally includes a shooting in Alabama last month in which a gunman opened fire outside a bar, leading to a melee that left 17 people with injuries, including some gunshot wounds, but no fatalities.