Another day, another mass shooting

Unfortunately that’s not a weary exaggeration, but a statement of fact.

The San Bernardino shooting is the 355th mass shooting [in the US] this year, according to a mass shooting tracker maintained by the Guns Are Cool subreddit. The Reddit tracker defines mass shootings as incidents in which four or more people, including the gunman, are killed or injured by gunfire.

Wednesday’s atrocity in San Bernardino, California, was of course worse than most– leaving 14 people dead and 17 others wounded at a holiday party for employees of the county health department. The shooters– a man and a woman– were themselves killed by police.

Police said the two shooters were a married couple: Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, a former county health worker born in the United States, and Tashfeen Malik, 27, a woman described as his Pakistani-born wife. Even as the bloodshed made it among the deadliest mass shootings in recent memory, the attack was also a rarity in another way: Mass shootings are rarely carried out by more than one attacker, and women almost never carry out such assaults.
Muslim community leader Ayloush described Malik as a Pakistani-born immigrant who lived in Saudi Arabia before marrying Farook. Two FBI officials told The Washington Post that Farook was not under FBI investigation. It’s not clear whether he had links to any other people under FBI investigation.

Before the shooting, Farook attended the party and then left, only to return, armed, with Malik.

Whether the massacre was motivated by religious extremism or work-related grievances, or some combination of the two, or something else, is not clear– although I’m sure plenty of people have already decided. (The questions that come to my mind are: If the couple was motivated solely by Islamic extremism, why would they choose this of all possible targets? And wouldn’t they have made known their purpose?)

The front pages of the two New York tabloid newspapers offer a revealing contrast today.

Here is the Murdoch-owned New York Post:

And here is The New York Daily News:

Update: Interesting (and somewhat comforting) fact: while the number of mass shootings in the US seems to have increased since the early 1990s, the number of people being killed or wounded by guns has declined markedly.

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