2020 saw more gun deaths in the US than any year in over two decades, showing even a pandemic couldn’t stop the violence

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New York Police Department installs tape around crime scene on August 16, 2020, near Prospect Park in Brooklyn where fatal shooting occurred.

  • There were a record number of gun violence deaths in 2020: 19,379.
  • This represents a huge leap from recent years, and the highest number in over two decades.
  • By one definition, there were also 611 mass shootings in 2020.
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Last year saw the highest number of gun violence deaths in the US in more than 20 years, even as the pandemic coincided with a relative absence of high-profile mass shootings on the scale of recent incidents in Atlanta and Boulder.

There were 19,379 gun violence deaths in the US in 2020, according to data from the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive. This statistic excludes suicides involving guns, which consistently account for a majority (roughly two-thirds) of annual US gun deaths. In 2020, Gun Violence Archive found there were 24,090 gun suicides.

Since Gun Violence Archive started tracking firearm violence in 2013, annual gun violence deaths generally fluctuated between 12,000 and 15,000. The next highest year after 2020 was 2017, when there were 15,718 gun violence deaths.

The recent shootings in Georgia and Colorado, which both occured less than a week apart, led many on social media to suggest that the easing of COVID-19 restrictions and gradual return to normalcy would translate into a spike in mass shootings in 2021.

Former President Barack Obama, for example, in a statement responding to the Atlanta and Boulder shootings said, “A once-in-a-century pandemic cannot be the only thing that slows mass shootings in this country.”

But mass shootings actually increased in 2020 as compared to 2019, according to Gun Violence Archive, which defines mass shootings as four or more people being shot or killed in a single incident (excluding the shooter). There were 611 mass shootings in 2020, up from 417 in 2019.

That said, there is not a universally agreed upon definition of mass shootings. Gun Violence Archive’s standard is fairly broad compared to those used by other databases that define mass shootings as an incident in which four or more are fatally shot, not including the shooter.

But many experts say that defining mass shootings based on how many are shot rather than the number killed offers a fuller picture of the scale of gun violence in the US. It also helps highlight incidents that generally don’t make headlines and disproportionately impact Black Americans and people of color. Public mass shootings also account for just a fraction of total gun deaths in the US, and focusing on them can lead to myopic perspectives on gun violence.

“The difference between a fatality and a survivor might be simply a matter of marksmanship,” Dr. Garen Wintemute, an emergency medicine physician and director of the University of California Firearm Violence Research Center, recently told ABC News. “There’s no such thing as an insignificant life. We pay extra attention when a bunch of lives are lost all at once in a single event. We’re less aware of all the people who die or are shot or survive one at a time.”

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VP Harris tells the GOP to ‘stop pushing the false choice’ that ‘everybody’s trying to come after your guns’ after series of mass shootings

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Vice President Kamala Harris

  • Harris told the GOP to “stop pushing the false choice” that “everybody’s trying to come after your guns.”
  • “It has to be possible that people agree that these slaughters have to stop,” she said.
  • Most GOP lawmakers have rejected any calls to strengthen gun-control measures since the shootings.
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Vice President Kamala Harris told Republican leaders on Wednesday to stop spreading the “false choice” that “everybody’s trying to come after your guns.”

In an interview with “CBS This Morning” days after a mass shooting in a Boulder, Colorado grocery store that killed 10 people, Harris said that “it has to be possible that people agree that these slaughters have to stop.”

“And this is, again, reject the false choice of – and stop pushing it for sure – stop pushing the false choice that this means everybody’s trying to come after your guns,” she continued. “That is not what we’re talking about.”

The Boulder massacre came just a week after a spree shooting in three Atlanta-area massage parlors that killed eight people, six of whom were Asian women. It is also the sixth mass shooting to happen within a 40-mile radius of Colorado Springs since 1999.

In the wake of the Atlanta and Boulder shootings, Democratic lawmakers and gun-control advocates have renewed their calls for stricter regulations around purchasing firearms.

The House of Representatives also recently passed two bills that would close loopholes in the background-check system and make gun transfers between people without licenses illegal. One of the measures was supported by eight House Republicans.

President Joe Biden on Tuesday called on the Senate to pass the two House bills and emphasized the toll gun violence has taken on the US.

“While the flag was still flying half-staff” for the victims of the Georgia shootings, “another American city has been scarred by gun violence and resulting trauma,” he said.

“We can ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines in this country once again,” he said when addressing the Boulder shooting. “I got that done when I was a senator. It passed, it was the law for the longest time, and it brought down these mass killings. We should do it again.”

The US far outstrips any other country in gun ownership, with an estimated 393 million firearms – more than the country’s population. Second in ownership rates is war-torn Yemen, according to a recent global study.

But Republicans, many of whom enjoy strong support from the National Rifle Association and the pro-gun lobby, have sharply pushed back on efforts to strengthen gun-control measures.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz said during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on gun violence Tuesday that Democrats were engaging in “ridiculous theater” and using mass shootings to take people’s guns away.

“Every time there’s a shooting, we play this ridiculous theater where this committee gets together and proposes a bunch of laws that would do nothing to stop these murders,” Cruz said. “What happens in this committee after every mass shooting is Democrats propose taking away guns from law-abiding citizens because that’s their political objective.”

Republican Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana, meanwhile, compared gun violence to drunk driving and gun owners to being Muslim.

“We have a lot of drunk drivers in America that kill a lot of people. We ought to try to combat that too,” he said at the judiciary committee hearing. “The answer is not to get rid of all sober drivers. The answer is to concentrate on the problem.”

He continued: “When a Muslim jihadist blows up a school full of school children, we are often told not to condemn all of the actions of those of the Muslim faith because of the actions of a few. And I agree with that. So why doesn’t the same rule apply to the 100 million-plus gun owners in America who are exercising their constitutional right?”

It wasn’t the first time Kennedy made the comparison.

After the 2017 Las Vegas massacre in which a gunman opened fire on a music festival, killing 59 people and injuring more than 500, Kennedy told TIME Magazine, “When an Islamic terrorist blows up a school with kids in it, we are told not to judge all Muslims by the acts of a few. And I agree with that. So why do we want to judge all 80 million gun owners in America because of the acts of one perverted idiot? I don’t know what else to call him.”

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Pressure is mounting to ditch the filibuster and pass gun reform after back-to-back mass shootings in the US

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Police work on the scene outside a King Soopers grocery store where a shooting took place Monday, March 22, 2021, in Boulder, Colo

  • Calls to end the Senate filibuster have intensified after two mass shootings in one week in the US.
  • Activists say trashing the filibuster is the only way to pass gun reform in the Senate.
  • A growing number of Democrats have voiced their support for filibuster elimination or reform.
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After 18 people were killed in two high-profile mass shootings within a week in the US, calls to abolish the filibuster have been intensifying among activists and Democratic politicians as a necessary step to pass gun reform.

Ten people were killed in a Boulder, Colorado, King Soopers grocery store after a gunman opened fire Tuesday afternoon. That tragedy came only one week after a man shot and killed 8 people in three Atlanta-area massage parlors on March 16.

As the country slowly crawls back toward normality after a year of pandemic-related lockdowns, mass shootings – an undeniable reality of American life – seem to be back in full force.

Police said Tuesday Ahmad Alissa, the man charged in the Boulder shooting, bought a semi-automatic rifle less than a week before Monday’s massacre, and in Atlanta, accused gunman Robert Aaron Long allegedly bought the gun he’s suspected of using to murder eight people the day of the shooting.

Neither Colorado nor Georgia has a waiting period when it comes to purchasing firearms. In fact, just 10 US states and Washington, DC, have any type of law requiring a waiting period between the time a person attempts to purchase a gun and when they are able to take possession of the weapon, Insider’s Connor Perrett reported.

The dual tragedies have once again reinvigorated calls for comprehensive, federal gun control. But this time, proponents have zeroed in on a tangible first step: eliminate the filibuster.

Calls to gut the filibuster – the Senate rule that requires 60 votes rather than a simple majority of 51 to pass most legislation – have been ramping up since Democrats took control of Congress in January.

Supporters argue doing so is the only way to push forward a progressive agenda, including an increased minimum wage, student-loan forgiveness, and now, gun control.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts tweeted her support for nuking the rule following Monday’s shooting.

Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley and Texas politician Julian Castro echoed their support.

Castro told CNN the recent shootings are just one more example of why the country needs “significant filibuster reform” that makes it easier for “effective, meaningful legislation” like gun control to be enacted.

Merkley said if Republicans won’t “get on board” with common-sense gun safety legislation, “we should abolish the filibuster and get it done.”

Democratic rising star and Pennsylvania’s Lieutenant Gov. John Fetterman tweeted his support.

And the former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich delivered a concise message.

In a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting Tuesday, Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois said Congress’ refusal to pass gun legislation has made it complicit in recent violence, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Even with the Democrats’ narrow control of both chambers, passing any type of gun legislation in the Senate is unlikely. Democrats would need at least 10 Republicans on board in order to bypass the filibuster.

Nuking the filibuster could prove to be an equally insurmountable task as at least two moderate Democratic senators have voiced their opposition to doing so. Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia declared earlier this year he would “never” change his mind on the filibuster and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona has also said she’s against dismantling the Senate staple.

The growing list of Democratic supporters, however, could mean an opportunity to at least reform the filibuster, rather than abolishing it entirely.

But for the people who suffer the consequences of gun violence, action can’t come soon enough. Fred Guttenberg, a gun-control activist and father of a student murdered in the 2018 Parkland school shooting said the recent gun violence was both predictable and inevitable.

“End the filibuster,” Guttenberg tweeted Tuesday. “Gun safety needs to move forward without them.”

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Boulder shooting victims include 3 employees at the King Soopers grocery store and an Instacart shopper

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Three King Soopers employees died in a deadly shooting.

Three King Soopers grocery store workers and an Instacart worker were among the 10 people killed in a shooting in Boulder, Colorado on Monday.

Police released the victims’ names on Tuesday morning. Among them are three people who worked at the store: Denny Stong, 20, Rikki Olds, 25, and Teri Leiker, 51.

Leiker had worked at King Soopers for roughly 30 years, with her friend Lexi Knutson telling Reuters that Leiker loved working at the grocery store.

“She loved going to work and enjoyed everything about being there,” Knutson told Reuters. “Her boyfriend and her had been good friends and began dating in the fall of 2019. He was working yesterday too. He is alive.”

Olds was a front-end manager at King Soopers, The Denver Post reports. Stong’s profile picture on Facebook was framed with the words: “I can’t stay home, I’m a Grocery Store Worker.”

A representative for Kroger, the parent company of King Soopers, said in a statement to Insider that the company is “horrified and deeply saddened by the senseless violence that occurred at our King Soopers store.”

“The entire Kroger family offers our thoughts, prayers and support to our associates, customers, and the first responders who so bravely responded to this tragic situation,” the statement continued. “We will continue to cooperate with local law enforcement and our store will remain closed during the police investigation.”

Read more: Workers file new sexual-harassment complaints against McDonald’s

Lynn Murray, 62, was shot while visiting the King Soopers as an Instacart shopper. Her husband, John Mackenzie, told The New York Times she had enjoyed working for Instacart after retiring from her career as a photo director.

“She was an amazing woman, probably the kindest person I’ve ever known,” Mackenzie told The Times. “Our lives are ruined, our tomorrows are forever filled with a sorrow that is unimaginable.”

“Violence of any kind has no place in our society,” Instacart founder and CEO Apoorva Mehta said in a social media post on Tuesday. “Our teams are working with law enforcement and the King Soopers team to assist in any way we can. We’ve reached out to the shopper’s family to offer our support & resources during this unimaginably difficult time.”

Mehta added: “For those members of our community who were shopping in the Boulder area, we’re also ensuring they’re able to take the time they need to grieve and recover from yesterday’s tragic events.”

The shooting serves as a stark reminder of the risks that retail workers face on the job.

“For the last year our members and other associates have fought an invisible enemy, COVID-19, but today several innocent souls were killed by an evil human,” Kim Cordova, the president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7, the union that represents employees at the King Soopers store, said in a statement.

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