gun violence

Once a week, in the basement auditorium of the MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital in Washington, D.C., a group of men gather to discuss the various struggles and triumphs of life in a wheelchair.

The program, called the Urban Re-Entry Group, is a gathering place for young black men who have been paralyzed by gun violence. Here, conversations flow freely about guns and violence, sex and politics, and life and death among the half dozen or so regular attendees.

After a mass shooting, people and resources pour into the community to help victims and survivors cope. As these incidents continue to unfold, the grim infrastructure that springs up around them is growing larger and more sophisticated.

A memorial for 19-year-old De'Von Bailey on the block where he died in Colorado Springs. Bailey was shot and killed by police in August.
Leigh Paterson / KUNC

Dee Smith didn't know De'Von Bailey. But he knows Bailey's family, and says he was angry when he heard that the 19-year-old had been killed by Colorado Springs police this summer.

Now, standing by the memorial and the stained asphalt on the quiet corner where it happened, Smith is speechless.

"(Because) then you just imagine that it could be me, it could be my nephews, somebody else, friends that I know that's from the neighborhood," Smith said. "Just the fact that it's from here. I was born and raised out here. It has a little different meaning for me."

The chief executives of many prominent U.S. companies sent a letter to U.S. senators on Thursday urging them to pass new federal gun control laws.

“Gun violence in America is not inevitable; it’s preventable,” the letter from 145 CEOs reads. “There are steps Congress can, and must, take to prevent and reduce gun violence.”

Active shootings tend to capture news headlines and generate think pieces much more than other forms of gun violence. Even when shooting deaths do make local news, thoughtful reflection about violence and culture isn’t a typical part of the coverage.

On an unseasonably warm July day, Lionel Irving gets up from the sofa on his front porch to hug his 16-year-old niece Queenie who is just getting home from a summer program called Self Enhancement, Inc.

“She just came from a college tour,” he says. “That’s our star.”

Queenie visited Tulane University in New Orleans. Lionel sees education as the most important thing for helping young people improve their lives and he gets visibly excited when he talks about Queenie’s success.

Antonio Basco lost his only close relative in the mass shooting in El Paso, Texas. But he did not mourn her alone.

Basco’s wife of 22 years, Margie Reckard, was killed at the Walmart. He told the funeral home planning the service for his spouse that he wanted to invite members of the public to attend her visitation.

Hundreds turned out to the visitation Friday night to support Basco, grieve after tragedy and remember a woman many did not know.

Could it happen here? It's a question a lot of people ask in the wake of a traumatic event.

Even if you're not directly connected to the events in El Paso, Gilroy or Dayton, chances are you've felt the weight of them.

While the circumstances of every mass shooting are unique, the perpetrators of the recent shootings in Ohio and Texas fit into a consistent storyline: white men with access to guns committing violence in the name of real or perceived grievances.

The shooter suspected of killing 22 people at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, is a 21-year-old white man who reportedly uploaded a racist internet post before the attack.

Losing a loved one to gun violence is a life-changing event, one that happens in the U.S. nearly 40,000 times a year. Some surviving family and friends go to support groups or grieve behind closed doors. But one group of mothers in New Haven, Connecticut, is working to take their healing to a new location: a botanical garden dedicated to the thousands of victims claimed by gun violence across the country.

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