The mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School, which killed a total of 17 teachers and educators, has reset a familiar and disturbing cycle in the United States. The gyre of this American phenomenon is spinning once again — the grief of survivors, the ideological finger-pointing, the cries for gun reform, the homegrown conspiracies.

The outrage has returned, but the shock and disbelief are long gone. This is simply another bloody chapter in the fatal romance between America and her firearms. The prospects of meaningful reform will remain grim.

It’s not a matter of understanding the scope of this issue. There are enough statistics to numb, if not drown, the average American citizen. There are 270 million guns in this country. With only 5 percent of the global population, America suffers a third of the world’s mass shootings. During the last three decades, in the 25 industrialized nations where mass shootings have occurred, the United States had nearly double the amount of shootings of the other 24 countries combined.

The occurrence rate of mass shootings is also quickening. Just 20 years ago, America averaged one per 200 days. That figure is down to 64 days between mass shootings. Between Orlando, Sutherland Springs and Las Vegas, three of the top five most deadly massacres have occurred in the last two years.

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  1. Steve Gowa

    I appreciate the broad perspective of this piece, dating to the DC v. Heller SCOTUS decision. Whereas many want laws revised to limit firearms, and that argument is countered by citing the Second Ammendment, this decision is not frequently mentioned. In fact, many arguments in support of guns just end at “Because…the Second Ammendment.” It’s too high risk to try and overturn SCOTUS decisions, but I do think it’s worth noting that individual gun ownership subject to light regulation is a violation of the “Well regulated militia” verbiage.