CNN and GVA define a mass shooting as an incident with four or more people killed or wounded by gunfire — excluding the shooter.
The rapid rise in gun violence, however, might be slowing down. Richard Rosenfeld, a criminology professor at the University of Missouri–St. Louis and his colleagues found that in the first quarter of 2021, the number of homicides was 23% higher than in 2020. In the second quarter that number went down to 10%.
Rosenfeld told CNN that many factors could be playing a role in the rise in gun violence, including the pandemic as well as the racial strife spurred by the murder of George Floyd last year, and the effect both have had on policing across the US.
“(I)mmediately after George Floyd was murdered and widespread protests broke out across the country,” Rosenfeld said, “that’s what we saw in a number of cities — a very, very large uptick” in homicides.
Rosenfeld said that the pattern is similar to what happened in the wake of the shooting of Michael Brown in 2014 by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri.
“What we’re seeing now is exactly what we saw (seven years) after the Ferguson incident and protests emerged across the country,” said Rosenfeld. “We saw a sizable uptick in homicide in the big cities, and that uptick persisted — depending upon the city — for a year, sometimes a little more than a year.”
As gun violence continues to increase, so too have gun sales and ammunition shortages. Meanwhile, Biden’s executive orders focused on expanding regulation on certain types of firearms continue to run through the rule-making process.
Gun and ammo sales
Biden’s gun control efforts
While Congressional legislation on gun control is nowhere in sight and the issue of gun violence has largely fallen out of the political zeitgeist, Biden’s executive actions continue to run through the federal rule-making process.
Two significant proposals from the Biden administration’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives focus on regulating certain types of pistol braces as well as so-called ghost guns.
The public comment period for the ATF’s proposed rule, changing the definition of a “firearm” to include unfinished firearms — ghost guns — ended on August 19.
While these proposals are sure to encounter significant challenges in the courts, Biden faces other speed bumps on the road to fulfilling his gun control aspirations.