According to The Associated Press, 2023 has become the second worst year for mass killings in the United States on record. On Wednesday, a shooter in Lewiston, Maine, killed at least 18 people and injured 13 more at a bowling alley and local restaurant. A manhunt for a suspect is still underway as of Thursday morning. This event marks the 36th mass killing this year, as reported by a database maintained by The Associated Press, USA Today, and Northeastern University.
The database defines mass killings as incidents in which four or more people, not including the killer, have died in a 24-hour period. It includes instances of shootings, stabbings, and death-by-fire. So far, at least 188 people have died in the U.S. due to mass killings in 2023.
The deadliest mass killings this year have occurred in public settings, such as the recent incident in Maine, a Chinese Lunar New Year celebration in Monterey Park, California, and a shopping mall in Allen, Texas. However, the most frequent kind of mass killings have taken place in family settings.
The rise in mass shootings in the United States has been attributed to factors such as increased gun ownership, weaker laws restricting gun sales, stress following the Covid pandemic, a divisive political climate, and an increased emphasis on violence in U.S. culture.
The killing spree in Lewiston, Maine, nearly matches the number of homicides the state usually sees in a whole year. David St. Pierre, the police chief in Lewiston, described the event as a tragedy beyond comprehension.