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Opinion: The Gun Violence All Around Us

Tactical police units respond to the scene of a King Soopers grocery store after a shooting on March 22, 2021 in Boulder, Colorado.
Chet Strange
Getty Images
Tactical police units respond to the scene of a King Soopers grocery store after a shooting on March 22, 2021 in Boulder, Colorado.

Flags were lowered to half-staff last week to remember the eight people killed by gun violence at spas in Georgia; and again this week for the 10 people killed in a Boulder, Colo. supermarket. Those crimes and tragedies made national news, and revived painful questions about race, gender and gun violence in America.

Last Saturday, a "peace march" was held in southwest Philadelphia to call for an end to gun violence there.

The marchers gathered not far from where a 15-year-old boy named Antonio Walker had been shot to death a few days before. Police say it was a "random" act of violence. But of course, the loss was direct and devastating to Antonio Walker's friends and family. He was a great track star, and was trying to start his own clothing line. His mother, Nydisha Williams, told local reporters, "I will be mourning for the rest of my life."

Across town that very morning, five people were wounded, and a 29-year-old man was killed, in a neighborhood called Nicetown. Police have not released the name of the man who died. He was shot 14 times.

The sad fact is that every day, shootings occur in America that shatter multiple lives; almost none get national attention. Last year, as the coronavirus pandemic upended our lives in so many ways, the U.S. also had a record-breaking year for gun deaths.

In the past week, as America mourned the lives lost in Atlanta and then Boulder, five people were shot at a nightclub in Houston. Eight people were shot at a nightclub in Dallas - one of them, Daisy Navarrete, died. She had just turned 21 and wanted to go to nursing school.

"She was a beautiful, happy girl," her mother, Judith Gonzalez, told the Dallas Morning News. "She had a lot to live for. But not anymore because now she's gone."

"How did a person get in there with a gun?" she asked.

Two people, Keondre Austin, and Geongela Rivers, were shot to death early Monday at a restaurant in Cleveland. Two others who were also shot have been arrested in connection with the violence.

Two people were injured, and two died in a shooting in Aliceville, Alabama, including Lacurtiseous Peebles, a high school football player. His aunt, Jossie Guyton, told ABC 33/40 he was just 18, and had his whole life still to live. "I don't know why somebody would want to take his life like that," she said. "It's just tragic."

It is also a tragic fact that even as we speak these words, somewhere in America, more people whose names we don't yet know - may never know - are being wounded and killed with guns. Our flags could be at half-staff any week of the year.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Simon
Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.