Mass shootings in America have become so common that an official handbook has been prepared to help mayors to cope when there is a shooting in their community.
As the first funerals take place for the victims of the Independence Day mass shooting near Chicago in Illinois, the mayor of the city where it happened, Highland Park, has revealed her shock to discover the existence of the handbook.
“No mayor that’s ever prepared for this [shooting] but there is a handbook for mayors for post mass shooting situations,” Mayor Nancy Rotering told Sky News.
“A 198-page handbook that’s now being sent to us in an effort to help us, because so many have gone before us through this ridiculous tragedy.
“And it infuriates me because there’s no excuse. There is no reason for weapons of war to be on the streets of the United States.”
Seven people were shot dead and a further 46 were wounded on Monday morning when a 21-year-old local man, Robert E. Crimo III opened fire from a rooftop onto an Independence Day parade.
All those who died have now been named. Katherine Goldstein was 64, Nicolas Toledo-Zaragoza, 78, Eduardo Uvaldo, 69, Jacquelyn Sundheim, 63 and Steven Straus who was 88. Husband and wife Irina and Kevin McCarthy were attending the parade with their 2-year-old son. He survived uninjured but they both died.
Crimo has been charged with seven counts of first-degree murder and prosecutors are expected to bring more charges for the more than 46 people were wounded in the attack.
He purchased his weapons legally despite having had knives seized from him in 2019 and being known to mental health officials.
“The laws aren’t doing what they need to do to protect American citizens,” mayor Rotering tells Sky News.
Countering the gun lobby’s argument that gun rights represent a basic American freedom protected by the second amendment of the US construction, the mayor says: “It tells you that we need to have a national conversation about what is the meaning of freedom.
“We were there to celebrate freedom, and in the end, we were running for our lives. There is no reason for these guns to be on our streets. It has nothing to do with freedom. It has everything to do with terror.”
According to data collated by the Gun Violence Archive, a staggering 220 people were killed in gun violence across America over last weekend’s Fourth of July holiday and 570 were wounded.
Over the same four-day holiday period, there were 11 incidents classed as mass shootings.
Any shooting in which four or more people, excluding the gunman, are killed or wounded is classed as a mass shooting.
The mayor, who was at the Highland Park parade and among those who fled, revealed that her city is among a few attempting to change gun laws from the bottom up rather than relying on states or the federal government to bring in bans.
“Our city passed an assault weapon ban in 2013 and large capacity magazine ban through a weird permutation of the law. We are now working with the governor, the Senate president, the speaker of the House and legislators to allow other Illinois municipalities to ban these weapons.
“We know that it’s access that’s causing this problem. Every other country in this world that has people who have mental health issues, who have anger issues, who play violent video games – they don’t have access to these guns. We need to talk about why we are still permitting access to these weapons of war.”
At a memorial service for one of the victims, Jacquelyn Sundheim, the Rabbi, Wendi Geffen said: “We should not have to be here today. There is nothing – not one single thing – that makes us being brought together to mourn for Jacki acceptable.
“We are horrified. We are enraged, sickened, aggrieved, inconsolable for the terror that has befallen us and robbed us of Jacki.”
The service was live-streamed and Jacquelyn Sundheim’s daughter requested that people use their pain to make the world a better place.
“I want you to each and every day put a little more joy and kindness into this world. Do not let this sadness, this fear, rage turn you bitter towards our world. The world is darker without my mom in it, and it’s up to us now to fill it with a little extra laughter,” she said.