The United States set a record over the weekend. There were two mass shootings on Sunday, one in Texas and another thousands of miles to the northwest in Washington. Those were the 37th and 38th mass killings of 2023 — a new record. With 24 days left in the year the 2022 record of 36 has been surpassed. Today is supposed to be a new, shiny addition to the NBA schedule with the In-Season Tournament semifinal games in Las Vegas. Prior to both games — Los Angeles Lakers vs New Orleans Pelicans and Boston Celtics vs. Indiana Pacers — expect a moment of silence because there was another tragedy on Thursday.

At least three people were killed Wednesday on the UNLV campus. The shooter was killed in a firefight with university police.

More American lives were lost in a senseless act. It is an American ritual, at this point, to be sad, send out thoughts and prayers, the president issues a statement, and then the loved ones and locals are left to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives.

In total area, the United States is the third largest country on the planet. Per the most recent data — 2021 — the U.S. has one of the highest gun violence death rates among developed nations. The only country that compares in size and population that has a higher firearm homicide rate is Brazil. The U.S. also leads the world in civilian gun ownership.

Per Johns Hopkins data, firearms killed 48,830 Americans in 2021. That is the highest total on record. There was a 45 percent increase in firearm homicides from 2019 to 2021. States with the loosest gun laws and highest ownership largely had the most firearm fatalities. 30 states in America allow permitless carry. One of those is Texas, which passed that law in 2021.

In November, the United States Supreme Court heard arguments for a case in which Zackey Rahimi claimed that his Second Amendment rights were violated. A Texas state court issued him a restraining order in February 2020 for abusing his girlfriend. A condition of that order is the prohibition of him from owning firearms.

Later that year, he went on a shooting spree. Over several weeks, Rahimi shot at people in five different instances. The police found firearms in his home and he would go on to be sentenced to six years in prison. Rahimi is arguing that it was unconstitutional for him to ever not be allowed to own a firearm. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Rahimi.

This is the United States of America. A land in which the safety of its women — and its citizens, in general — is in a perilous state, because it has been ruled by a federal judge that people who have exhibited repeated violent behavior still have the right to own a firearm.

On Thursday, the games begin at 5 p.m. EST. LeBron James has already given his statement in which he expresses displeasure about the way gun violence has been handled in the United States. One of the greatest athletes to ever walk the earth had to answer for gun violence in his home country because it happened hours earlier in the same city in which the press conference was held.

Basketball excellence will be on display in a new and fun way Thursday and Saturday in Las Vegas. A sport that was invented in America. That sport is something that the country is great at, but it is far better at shooting people than basketballs.

Also, the 39th mass killing of the year was not what happened at UNLV. That may not even statistically qualify because a mass killing in our country is technically defined as one in which four or more people are killed. No. 39 was a man who killed six people in less than 24 hours between San Antonio and Austin on Tuesday. But, by all means, enjoy the hoops.




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