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American exceptionalism defined: The US experiences a mass shooting each day, on average

Reuters/Mario Anzuoni
A spent cartridge lies on the ground as police officers secure the area after at least one person opened fire at a social services agency…
Published This article is more than 2 years old.

The United States’ most deadly mass shooting of the year occurred yesterday (Dec. 2), in San Bernardino, California, where two assailants shot 31 people, killing 14. Hours earlier, in an unrelated and much more common tragedy, a man shot four people inside a house in Savannah, Georgia, killing one.

According to, a historical database of mass shootings in the US, there have been 354 incidents so far in 2015—more than one per day. (A mass shooting is defined here as an incident in which four or more people are wounded or killed by gunfire.) This continues a trend that Quartz described two months ago, with 60 more mass shootings since the 294 recorded on Oct. 2:

Only in America.

As president Barack Obama told CBS News yesterday (video), “we have a pattern now of mass shootings in this country that has no parallel anywhere else in the world,” expressing concern that Americans may becoming too used to large-scale gun violence.

Emphasizing the uniqueness of the United States’ gun violence epidemic seems to be the only rhetorical device left for Obama, who is heading for the end of his term having tried and failed to tighten the country’s gun laws.

This is a political choice that we make to allow this to happen every few months in America,” the president said in October, after a mass shooting at Umpqua community college.

“For a different political choice, go to the polls,” wrote James Fallows for The Atlantic, yesterday. Over the past 20 years, gun control hasn’t been much at the forefront in US presidential campaigns, but 2016 may be different.

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