Mass shootings: America’s other pandemic

Cyril Josh Barker | 4/22/2021, midnight
America’s latest mass shooting took place in New York on Long Island at a supermarket where a man shot three ...
AR-15 semi-automatic rifle Image by IIIBlackhartIII from Pixabay

America’s latest mass shooting took place in New York on Long Island at a supermarket where a man shot three people leaving one dead and the other two injured. The shooting is the latest of the nearly 150 mass shootings in 2021 leaving behind a trail of carnage.

On Tuesday, April 20, police officials in Nassau County say 30-year-old Gabriel DeWitt Wilson opened fire just before 11:30 a.m. at a Stop & Shop supermarket in West Hempstead, Long Island. The shooting occurred on the second floor of the store in the manager’s office.

The 49-year-old manager of the store was killed and two other people were injured, a man and a woman, who were left in stable and critical condition.

Wilson worked at the supermarket as a cart collector, however, police have not identified a possible motive. Wilson was found after a four-hour manhunt that put area schools on lockdown and had local residents directed to stay indoors. Reports indicate he was apprehended by police at an apartment building in Hempstead.

“Our hearts go out to the families of the victims, our associates, customers and the first responders who have responded heroically to this tragic situation,” Stop & Shop said in a statement. “At this time, we are cooperating fully with local law enforcement on the investigation.”

Tuesday’s shooting in Long Island is part of a disturbing trend sweeping the nation of mass shootings. According to the nonprofit research group Gun Violence Archive, as of Tuesday, the U.S. has witnessed 156 mass shootings in 34 states and the District of Columbia in the first 110 days of 2021.This time last year there were 87.

Mass shootings saw a sharp increase in 2020 with 610 incidents; 2019 saw 417.

The FBI classifies a mass shooting as a gun violence incident where three or more people are shot not including the shooters.

In the past five weeks, America has seen a shooting at a supermarket in Boulder, Colo. leaving 10 dead; shootings at Asian-operated spas in Atlanta, Ga., leaving eight dead; a workplace shooting in Orange, Calif. leaving four dead; and a murder-suicide at a FedEx facility leaving eight victims dead before the shooter took his own life in Indianapolis.

“The gun industry continues to design, manufacture, and market increasingly lethal weapons while the American public pays the price in unspeakable death, injury, and long-lasting trauma. Our nation is being held hostage by the gun industry,” said Violence Policy Center Executive Director Josh Sugarmann. “Until gunmakers are held fully accountable for the direct role they play in these massacres, communities across the nation will continue to live in fear of the next horrendous attack.”

Last week, members of the U.S. House and Senate reintroduced the Keep Americans Safe Act to ban the sale, manufacturing, transfer, possession or importation of high-capacity gun magazines that are capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition. The bill was first introduced in 2019.

The use of the weapons has enabled perpetrators in recent mass shootings to fire dozens of rounds of ammunition before having to stop and reload, allowing them to kill more people in less time. A Ruger AR-556 Pistol, which can hold up to 30 rounds, was used in last month’s Boulder, Colo. shooting.

“In America, there is a familiar and disturbing pattern that occurs every time another horrific mass shooting occurs––when people are killed in their grocery store, their workplace, their house of worship, the crisis of gun violence punctuates our national consciousness, but all too quickly we move on,” said U.S. Sen. Cory Booker. “The truth is that every single day in America, people are killed by senseless, preventable gun violence, and the majority of those deaths don’t make the national headlines”