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U.S. gun violence in 2016 set to outpace 2015 after bloody summer


Another summer in the U.S. meant another stretch of mass gun violence in the world’s most firearm-happy country.

According to Mass Shooting Tracker, a nonpartisan and crowd-sourced data outlet dedicated to following all mass shootings in the U.S., there have been 326 mass shootings in 2016 as of Monday, Sept. 5.

Mass Shooting Tracker defines a mass shooting as “an incident of violence in which four or more people are shot.” The site does not consider the motives or location of a shooting, and includes incidents that do not include fatalities. The FBI only defines mass killings, not mass shootings. The bureau defines mass killings as an event in which three or more people are killed.

Perhaps the summer’s most notorious bursts of violence came on June 12 and July 7.

On the former date, 29-year-old American Omar Mateen killed 49 people and wounded 53 others at the Pulse nightclub, a noted gay club in Orlando, Fla. While investigators have not decreed an exact motive for the killings, many who knew Mateen have indicated he hated homosexuals and that the attacks were fueled by prejudice. Furthermore, during a call made shortly after the shootings began, Mateen told an 9-1-1 operator that he had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State. Mateen was ultimately killed by law enforcement officials who stormed the club.

During the attack, Mateen used a SIG Sauer MCX semi-automatic rifle and a 9mm Glock 17 handgun, both of which were legally acquired.

On the latter date, Micah Johnson ambushed police officers in Dallas, Texas. Johnson, a former Army Reservist, killed five police officers, while wounding nine other officers and two civilians. Johnson is believed to have been motivated by recent rash of police shootings of black men. He launched his attack at the end of a peaceful protest organized by Black Lives Matter. Johnson was ultimately killed by police, who controversially used a robot strapped with C-4 explosives.

Following the shooting in Orlando, approximately 60 members of the House of Representatives staged a sit-in of the House chambers until House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., allowed votes on gun safety legislation. All measures in both the Senate and House were ultimately rejected.

“We had to find a way to dramatize the issue, make it real, make it plain, make it simple,” said Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga.” “We’ve been too silent, and we need to come together as members of Congress and do something.”

According to Mass Shooting Tracker, there were 371 mass shootings in the U.S. last year. With the number already hanging at 326 through the early days of September, it would seem likely that gun violence in 2016 will ultimately surpass last year’s numbers.

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