It’s been a violent week in America.
On Saturday night, four people died and another 32 were injured in a mass shooting at a 16th birthday party in Dadeville, Alabama.
That same night, in upstate New York, 20-year-old Kaylin Gillis was shot and killed after pulling into the wrong driveway while looking for a friend’s house — just days after Ralph Yarl, a Black 16-year-old, was shot in Kansas City while making the same mistake while trying to pick up his younger brothers.
Just after midnight on Tuesday, two teenage cheerleaders were shot after mistaking a car for their own in a supermarket parking lot in Austin, Texas. Also on Tuesday, four people were fatally shot, including the parents of the suspect who was just recently released from prison, in an incident on an interstate highway in Bowdoin, Maine.
These tragedies have put the US on track this year for record mass killings, defined as incidents in which four or more people die. But mass killings only make up a fraction of gun deaths in the US overall, and on that front, it’s not clear that this week’s spate of shootings is significantly out of the norm.
Between 2018 and 2022, an average of 722 people have been killed and 682 have been injured by guns each week, according to data from the Gun Violence Archive, which is compiled from over 7,500 law enforcement, media, government, and commercial sources. We don’t have complete data for this week yet, both because it’s not over yet and because there’s often a significant delay in reporting. But so far, between Sunday and Friday morning, the Gun Violence Archive is reporting that at least 186 people were killed and another 49 injured due to gun violence.
That adds to the nearly 15,000 people who have been injured or killed in shootings since the beginning of the year.
No other high-income country continues to suffer such a high death toll from gun violence. The US gun homicide rate is as much as 26 times that of other high-income countries; its gun suicide rate is nearly 12 times higher, according to an estimate from the gun control advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety.
But even if the recent flurry of shootings isn’t unusual in terms of the overall picture of gun violence in America, the proliferation of these high-profile incidents has put renewed pressure on lawmakers at the state and federal to adopt gun control measures.
Last week, Michigan Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a sweeping gun safety package that included requirements for universal criminal background checks to purchase rifles and shotguns. Previously, it was only required for purchases of pistols. The Washington state legislature on Wednesday also approved a ban on a slew of models of semi-automatic rifles, which is expected to soon be signed by the governor.
Though Tennessee has rolled back restrictions on guns in recent years, Republican Gov. Bill Lee recently signed an executive order aimed at strengthening the state’s background check system following the mass shooting at Covenant School in Nashville.
President Joe Biden has also renewed his calls for a national assault weapons ban and ban on high-capacity magazines, safe storage laws, universal background checks, and removing gun manufacturers’ immunity from liability. Those reforms, however, might not be feasible in the near term given that the GOP controls the House.