The major shooting of the Fourth of July weekend was the one in Highland Park, Illinois, that killed six and wounded dozens more. But while that was the only mass shooting to draw significant national attention, it wasn’t the only one. In the early hours of the holiday, five people were wounded in a shooting elsewhere in the Chicago area. On Monday night, during a fireworks display, two police officers were grazed by bullets as crowds fled gunshots.
And while mass shootings that kill six and injure dozens remain noteworthy even in the United States of Gun Violence, this was not a uniquely violent July 4 weekend: In 2021, more than 230 people were killed by gun violence over the holiday weekend, and that was a drop from the previous year.
The dead in Highland Park include Jacki Sundheim, a former preschool teacher who worked at the North Shore Congregation Israel, and Nicholas Toledo, a disabled 76-year-old whose son and granddaughter’s boyfriend also sustained injuries.
The alleged shooter in Highland Park has been arrested. Like so many mass shooters before him, he is strikingly young. He has an online posting history filled with violent imagery, little of it directly political, though he did have two posts indicating support for Donald Trump. Police said he used a “high powered rifle,” but haven’t yet offered details on the weapon. We know, though, that it’s one of the kinds that can kill or injure dozens of people in the span of minutes.
According to Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering, the gun was obtained legally, because this is a country where a young man fascinated with violence can legally obtain the kind of weapon suitable for a massacre and not much more.
”This tragedy never should have arrived on our doorsteps,” Rotering said. As long as she understands that it should never have arrived in Uvalde, or Buffalo, or any of the other cities that have suffered mass shootings due to lax U.S. gun laws, even if not all of those cities are as wealthy as Highland Park. Highland Park, by the way, has an assault weapons ban, just as Illinois has some of the strongest gun laws in the country—but when your neighbors have extremely weak gun laws, firearms will make their way into your area regardless. Less than half the guns recovered after crimes in Illinois are purchased in the state, according to law enforcement, with weapons coming in from Indiana, Missouri, and other states.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker had strong words following the shooting. “It is devastating that a celebration of America was ripped apart by our uniquely American plague,” he said. “A day dedicated to freedom has put into stark relief the one freedom we, as a nation, refuse to uphold: The freedom of our fellow citizens to live without the daily fear of gun violence.”
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.