What initially began as a simple inquiry into the demographics of who was getting shot in America, Jennifer Mascias’ list of gun violence victims quickly become one of the most beautifully fervent and empathetic projects ever undertaken. The list, updated daily on her blog, received tremendous positive feedback. Each new entry into the blog ignited discussions and an eruption of comments expressing support. The blog also received positive attention from the New York Review of Books and New York Times magazine. It even caught the attention of Senator Dick Durbin, who read the long list of gun violence victims, not once but twice on the United States Senate floor.
After posting over 350 entries, amounting to over 40,000 deaths, Jennifer Mascias wrote an article summarizing the various patterns she discovered while working on her project. For one, she observed that the amount of shootings spiked over the weekend. In her article, Mascias describes how every Sunday she would dedicate ten hours researching and recording the names of all the victims from the weekend’s shooting. “Summer was the worst,” Mascias recalls. Likewise, “holiday weekends were full of needless shootings — arguments, stray bullets, kids finding their parents’ guns.” Through her research, Mascias noted that gang violence was the cause of many of the deaths and was especially prevalent in industrial cities that are now in economic decline. Shootings in the suburbs were extremely common too; innocent gun violence victims were often the result of carjackings and home invasions. While about half of the shootings were crime related, as Mascias was surprised to learn, the other half of the shootings were not. Instead, these shootings “resulted from arguments — often fueled by alcohol — among friends, neighbors, family members and romantic partners.” Instead of solving their argument, people were impulsively reaching for a gun. She also found that another large percentage of gun violence deaths resulted from children unintentionally shooting each other with unsecured guns.
While Mascias readily acknowledges that something must be done to end the “scourge of gun violence” in America, she admits, “there is no one answer.” Instead, she laments in her article that remembering the victims of gun violence is crucially important. Indeed, the memories of these victims fuel us as we continue to fight for an end to gun violence in America.