For many people in the United States, 2019 will forever be marked by loss, given that the country saw more mass killings than in any year in the past.
According to a database compiled by the Associated Press, USA Today, and Northeastern University, perpetrators in the U.S. attacked people in 41 mass killings — defined as when four or more people were killed, according to USA Today. More than 210 people died in those attacks alone.
“What makes this even more exceptional is that mass killings are going up at a time when general homicides, overall homicides, are going down,” James Densley, a criminologist and professor at Metropolitan State University in Minnesota, told the AP. “As a percentage of homicides, these mass killings are also accounting for more deaths.”
This marks the most mass killings in the database, which goes back to the 1970s; the year with the second-most mass killings was 2006 with 38, the database showed. (The number of fatalities is eclipsed by 224 victims in 2017, due in part to the Las Vegas shooting that became the deadliest in modern American history, according to The Guardian.)
Among the mass killings this year, the first took place in January when a man killed four of his family members, according to USA Today. The violence continued into the year: In August, a gunman shot and killed 22 people and injured 24 others in El Paso, Texas; that same month, seven people were killed and more than 20 were wounded in Odessa, Texas; nine people were killed and 17 were wounded in Dayton, Ohio. Twelve people were killed and four wounded in Virginia Beach, Virginia, in May; in December, four people were killed in a kosher market in Jersey City, New Jersey.
Of the 41 incidents, the vast majority — 33, or 80 percent — were mass shootings, according to the database.
According to the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive, there have been 406 mass shootings — in which four or more people are shot but not necessarily killed — in the U.S. in 2019. That’s more mass shootings than there have been days, and more than any year since GVA started their database, CBS News reported.
These shootings have sparked a national debate about gun control, but most of the efforts — from instating federal background checks for buying weapons to reducing access to assault weapons – have stalled.
Nearly half of all U.S. states experienced mass killings, from New York to Alabama. While Democrats and Republicans disagree on what should be done to stop the slaying, one thing appears clear: something must be done.