Two months, 80 shootings: A look at gun violence in 2023

Just nine weeks into 2023, the U.S. has already seen a devastating influx of gun violence. According to Gun Violence Archive, a research group that tracks gun violence using official police data, a total of 80 mass shootings have occurred in the first 2 months of this year.

Although what constitutes a “mass shooting” has been heavily debated, depending on the number of fatalities and extent of injuries, Gun Violence Archive defines it as a shooting in which at least four people are killed or wounded. Many mass shootings fly under the radar and remain unnoticed, but some manage to capture the attention of the whole nation.

A recent case that sparked national attention was the shooting at Michigan State University. On Feb. 13, three Michigan State students were fatally shot while five others were injured by a 43-year-old shooter.

The gunman took his own life later that day as victims remained distraught and disheveled. Michigan State student Dylan Tedeschi told Hi’s Eye, “I think people are on edge every day. I’ve seen students here with their parents carrying luggage out. I’d have to imagine that at least some of these students are moving out just because of this incident.”

The shooter was found by authorities after the massacre with two handguns and multiple rounds of ammunition. It is unclear how he obtained the gun, as the gunman had previously pleaded guilty to a charge of carrying a concealed firearm.

Many believe that this scenario is telling of the consequences of loose gun laws. WHS senior Jane Guglielmo said, “It’s disturbing and concerning how the shooter was still able to purchase a gun given his background. People like [the shooter] should never be able to so easily acquire a gun.”

I’m just hoping that, because the current students are our future, they will think about the changes they can make one day.

— WHS Math Teacher Zorana Culjak

The United States leads in terms of yearly mass shootings among developed nations. This is likely due to the large number of guns (about 393 million according to the Switzerland- based Small Arms Survey) that are privately owned in the United States. This is about 120 guns for every 100 Americans. However, the exact number of firearms is difficult to calculate due to illegal and unregistered weapons.

WHS School Resource Officer Nick Calello points out that while there are debates over gun regulations, the struggle lies with illegitimate weapons. “With how frequently this is happening throughout the U.S., it is obvious that something needs to change,” he said. “The problem is that there are a lot of illegal guns, which are impossible to regulate.”

However, several other countries have been successful in decreasing the frequency of mass shootings. After several shootings occurred in Britain in the 90s, the nation was quick to ban rifles and handguns, as well as tighten their criteria for gun ownership; these new laws have led to a notable decrease in gun violence.

WHS Math Teacher Zorana Culjak said, “When you look at the examples in other countries, when they experienced shootings, the world stopped for them. They did things to make a difference and they changed to no longer allow this behavior. For us, it’s almost like it’s not a big deal, which is horrible.”

Other shootings this year include 1 person killed and 10 others injured in Memphis; 3 people killed and 4 others wounded in Los Angeles; 11 people killed at an Asian American gathering in Monterey Park, CA; and 8 members of one family killed in their own home in Utah.

These shootings are not only physically harmful, but are psychologically harmful as well. According to Tedeschi, the recent school shooting has left Michigan State students in a constant state of fear on their own campus. “[Students] keep being told that it’s safe now, but I think people have a hard time believing that because we felt like we were safe before [the shooting].”

Culjak said, “I’m just hoping that, because the current students are our future, they will think about the changes they can make one day. I don’t want them to become numb to this behavior… I’m hoping that they can actually stop this and pursue changes to the law.”