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So far, in 2021, episodes of gun violence in the United States have risen 9 percent over the same period last year, with a total of 14,516 gun-related fatalities so far, so if the progression continues, this could be the worst year in several decades.
According to data compiled by Gun Violence Archive, there have been 498 shootings from January 1 to September 15 in which at least four people have been injured or killed, excluding the shooter.
That's an average of 1.92 shootings per day, up 15 percent from the previous year, when an annual total of 611 was reported, with a daily rate of 1.67, CNN reports.
Some analysts argue that this sudden increase, especially during the spring, may be driven by several factors, including inequalities stemming from the coronavirus crisis and the social outburst of racial protests in the wake of the murder of African-American citizen George Floyd at the knee of a Minneapolis police officer.
Richard Rosenfeld, Professor of Criminology at the University of Missouri-St. Louis points out that "immediately" after Floyd was killed and protests erupted across the United States over police violence, there was "a very, very large increase" in the number of homicides.
According to this university, during the first quarter of 2021, there was a 23 percent increase in the number of homicides compared to 2020. In the second three months of the year, the situation has improved with a 10 percent drop.
BREAKING: As of this weekend, the U.S. has now reached over 500 shootings this year where 4 or more victims have been shot and/or killed in a single incident.
This is the second time in GVA history (and second consecutive year) that the country has eclipsed 500 mass shootings. pic.twitter.com/Be7aiq7L2o
The situation, Rosenfeld explains, "is exactly" the same as that experienced in August 2014, when Michael Brown was shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, in the state of Missouri.
"Protests erupted across the country (...), we saw a considerable increase in the number of homicides in big cities, and that increase persisted, depending on the city, for a year, sometimes a little longer," he explains.
As the number of homicides and shootings rises, so do gun sales, with some 8.4 million Americans buying a gun for the first time last year alone, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, while promises by President Joe Biden's administration to limit their use and access have been watered down in the current political landscape.
Small Arms Analytics (SAAF), a consulting firm, notes that a record 23 million firearms were sold in the United States in 2020, up 65 percent from 2019. In early 2021, sales continued to rise, with 2.2 million in January alone. While the number of purchases fell in the following months, it remained higher than in previous years.