The United States has been rocked by a spree of mass shootings in recent weeks and months, which comes amidst unprecedented police violence targeted at racial minorities in the country.
The country’s top healthcare official, speaking on alarming rise in gun violence in the US this year, on Sunday termed it “horrifying” and “a public health emergency”.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is known to rattle political elites in Washington with his unpopular opinions, made the remarks following last week’s shooting in Indianapolis, which claimed eight lives.
“How can you say that’s not a public health issue?”Fauci said on CNN’s “State of the Union”.
“When you see people getting killed, I mean, in this last month, it’s just been horrifying what’s happened. How can you say that’s not a public health issue?” he said.
According to data from the Gun Violence Archive, there have been at least 150 mass shootings this year in the US, marking 73 percent increase compared to the same period last year.
The country was hit by a record high 610 mass shootings in 2020, the highest toll since the organization began tracking the figure in 2014.
Nearly 20,000 Americans died from gun violence last year, more than any year in two decade, according to the Washington Post, while about 24,000 died by suicide using a gun.
This year, the US has averaged more than one mass shooting a day, marking an upward trend since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in December 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut, when a 20-year-old man shot and killed 26 people, including 20 children.
The distressing trend has seen manifold increase during the Covid-19 pandemic that has already resulted in the death of 500,000 people, making US the worst-affected country in the world.
“Too many Americans are dying every single day from gun violence. It stains our character and pierces the very soul of our nation. We can, and must, do more to act and to save lives,” Fauci added.
The spate of shootings has also increased public pressure on the Joe Biden administration to tighten gun regulations, which has so far shown reluctance.
According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll, most Americans support tougher gun laws, but the successive administrations in the US have done little to address the problem.
Last week’s shooting at a FedEx facility in the US state of Indianapolis, close to Indiana International Airport, was latest in the string of mass shootings this year.
The gunman, who killed eight workers and injured several others, also shot at himself.
Following the deadly shooting in Indianapolis, US President Joe Biden on Friday released a statement, calling gun violence “an epidemic in America.”
The incident in Indianapolis, the worst this month, was followed by more shootings in different cities of the US, three in less than 24 hours.
In Austin, Texas, three people were killed on Sunday at an apartment complex with authorities looking for a former deputy sheriff linked to the fatal shooting.
In another incident reported in Kenosha County, Wisconsin the same day, three people were killed and two wounded in a shooting at a bar.
The third incident came from Shreveport, Louisiana, where five people were hospitalized after being shot and injured by an unidentified assailant.
The string of these shootings came a month after two mass shootings that took place in a span of one week. Eight people, six of them women of Asian descent, died in the Atlanta-area shootings, and10 people were killed by an armed man at Boulder, Colorado grocery store.
The upsurge in mass shootings comes amid disturbing rise in violence against people of color by police in the US, which came into limelight last year following the brutal killing of George Floyd.
The country has been rocked by widespread mass protests since last year, with people calling for drastic police reforms and an end to centuries of institutionalized racism.