Exasperated US reacts to 4th of July parade mass shooting

Exasperated US reacts to 4th of July parade mass shooting
A mass shooting at a Fourth of July parade in Highland Park near Chicago has claimed the lives of at least six people and wounded around 30. Many across the US are exasperated at how commonplace this type of violence has become.
4 min read
Washington, D.C.
05 July, 2022
A gunman in Highland Park near Chicago killed at least six and wounded around 30 during a 4th of July parade. [Getty]

On a day when many Americans thought they could relax and enjoy celebrating freedom, the country was reminded in the middle of the day on the 4th of July holiday that they are far from free of the decades-long mass shooting epidemic.

During an Independence Day parade in Highland Park near Chicago, a gunman killed at least six and wounded around 30 paradegoers.

"There is no life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for those killed every single day," tweeted David Hogg, a gun safety activist and a survivor of the 2018 mass school shooting in Parkland, Florida, as he invoked the famous lines from the Declaration of Independence when the United States declared itself free from the British empire.

"No responsible gun owner left or right wants gun violence to continue. Americans are not divided on this, it's 100 Senators. We must demand they act- we all want the same thing- safety," he added.

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Along similar lines, March for Our Lives, a student-led gun organisation that advocates for safer gun regulations (co-founded by Hogg), tweeted, "Once again, an assault rifle & young male shooter."

The tweet continued, "We stop our holiday festivities in horror—wondering how someone can commit mass murder so callously. This evil is beyond comprehension and it STILL goes unchecked in this country. NO ONE DESERVES THIS."

Illinois' Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton issued a public statement, similarly expressing exasperation that mass shootings are all too common across the US, on average a more than daily occurrence in the US according to the gun violence data site Gun Violence Archive.

No country in the world comes close to this rate of mass shootings or gun deaths in general, which the site puts at more than 22,000 so far this year.

"The pain that we are feeling today is not normal and never should be," said Stratton, expressing her outrage that it had happened at a community gathering on a national holiday celebrating freedom. She also thanked first responders for their work.

"As we struggle to process all that is happening today, we must again say ENOUGH. There are too many guns on our streets and we must enact common sense gun laws, stricter policies, and put resources in place to build the safe, healthy communities everyone deserves," she continued. 

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Most Democrats and some Republicans have been pushing for decades for stricter gun safety laws, but aggressive gun lobbying and an entrenched gun culture tied to individual freedom and the right to bear arms enshrined in the Second Amendment have made gun reform difficult.

"It is devastating that our celebration of America was ripped apart by our deeply American plague. 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," said Illinois Governor JB Pritzker at a press conference Monday afternoon. 

"If you're angry today, I’m here to tell you: be angry. I'm furious. I'm furious that yet more innocent lives were taken by gun violence," said the governor, emphasising that it is imperative to act now, despite what others might say, possibly alluding to pro-gun politicians, many of whom rely on the National Rifle Association and gun-owners for political donations and votes.

Indeed, within hours of the mass shooting, Darren Bailey, a Republican running for Illinois governor said it was "time to move on" and celebrate (a statement for which he quickly apologised following public outrage).

In the wake of Monday's tragedy, one of the most shared stories online was from the satirical site the Onion, whose headline (repeated after most major mass shootings since 2014), reads, "No Way to Prevent This, Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens." Though the headline remains the same, the date, location and picture change with each event.