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caption: A truck passes crosses placed along the highway to honor the victims killed in the recent school shooting at Robb Elementary School, Friday, June 3, 2022, in Uvalde, Texas. Two teachers and 19 students were killed.
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A truck passes crosses placed along the highway to honor the victims killed in the recent school shooting at Robb Elementary School, Friday, June 3, 2022, in Uvalde, Texas. Two teachers and 19 students were killed.
Credit: AP Photo/Eric Gay

What is a mass shooting?: Today So Far

  • Local demonstrations for gun violence awareness.
  • Bellevue-based gun rights group files lawsuit over Washington's firearm regulations.

This post originally appeared in KUOW's Today So Far newsletter for June 6, 2022.

There's a very uncomfortable math that journalists sometimes calculate. It doesn't necessarily use numbers. And I don't think a lot of reporters like to talk about it. But I can guarantee you that after a shooting, there is a conversation in most newsrooms around the question: was this a mass shooting?

I think this particular newsroom discussion is happening a lot lately. NPR reports that there have been 246 mass shootings in the past 156 days. This includes the racist shooting in Buffalo, NY; the elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas; and now a series of shootings that happened over the weekend across Pennsylvania, Tennessee, South Carolina, and Arizona. It should be noted that these incidents are part of a rising trend in recent years. The Gun Violence Archive recorded 417 mass shootings, nationally, in 2019; 610 in 2020; and 692 in 2021.

Despite the discussions I've experienced, there is no firm answer on what defines a mass shooting. A newsroom I worked in settled on three victims. Groups like Everytown for Gun Safety or the Gun Violence Archive set it at four. The Archive clarifies that it does not count the shooter, and also doesn't differentiate between the circumstances around a shooting. But I've also heard discussions from college classes to professional offices around the intent of an incident. And do intentions even matter when the outcomes are the same?

Locally, Western Washington has had 10 mass shootings since 2009, according to Everytown for Gun Safety. And King County has experienced a significant rise in shootings, fatalities and injuries in recent years, while the Seattle area has amassed more guns.

This has not gone unnoticed. You may have seen people wearing orange over the weekend. This local showing was part of a national effort to raise awareness of gun violence. One event was in Skyway where demonstrators linked their arms while chanting, “I am my brother’s keeper. I am my sister’s keeper.”

“This is a proactive way to make the community aware, but also to get the community to buy in to what we’re doing because we need you, we’ve got to do it together,” said Marty Jackson, with the Boys & Girls Clubs of King County.

On the other side of this local action are groups like the Bellevue-based Second Amendment Foundation, which just filed a lawsuit against Washington's upcoming ban on large-capacity magazines.

Meanwhile, I don't think the newsroom conversations will stop any time soon. It's part of reporters' aim to be accurate and informative. Despite the sensitive topic, I'm grateful that they happen. Of course, it would be even better to have no reason for these discussions in the first place.

Here is what else KUOW has been reporting:

AS SEEN ON KUOW

caption: Elliott Bay Bookstore on Capitol Hill, which will celebrate 50 years in operation in 2023
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Elliott Bay Bookstore on Capitol Hill, which will celebrate 50 years in operation in 2023
Credit: Brooke Fitts

Seattle's beloved Elliott Bay Book Company is changing ownership for only the second time in its 49-year history. As of June 1, the new owners are Tracy Taylor, the bookstore's former general manager, and Murf Hall and Joey Burgess, who together as a couple own Queer/Bar and the bar Cuff. The three also have another business together already, Big Little News, which they opened in 2021. (Courtesy of Brooke Fitts)

DID YOU KNOW?

Once again, I am forced to look around and wonder how much our city, and general region, is "dying." Washington state has the strongest economy in the USA, according to the eggheads at WalletHub.

That might sound weird given that a state like California has an economy that rivals entire nations. But WalletHub considered how much each state is contributing to the national economic engine, using metrics for performance and strength. They basically factored for everything from startup activity to unemployment rates, income levels to poverty levels. Washington comes out on top, mostly for our high level of economic activity and booming innovation.

Specifically, Washington ties for first when it comes to exports per capita (probably due to our fertile agricultural sector); second for average education attainment of recent immigrants; and second for jobs in the tech industry (because we live in the 2020s). Washington also ties for first for independent inventor patents. So we apparently make up for the gray skies with plenty of bright ideas. Read the full report here.

ALSO ON OUR MINDS

caption: Pro-union pins sit on a table during a watch party for Starbucks' employees union election in December in Buffalo, N.Y. Starbucks union organizers say the company is closing a New York store to retaliate.
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Pro-union pins sit on a table during a watch party for Starbucks' employees union election in December in Buffalo, N.Y. Starbucks union organizers say the company is closing a New York store to retaliate.
Credit: AP

Starbucks union says the coffee giant is closing a store to retaliate

Starbucks is closing a store in Ithaca, N.Y., in what Starbucks union organizers are calling an illegal move of retaliation after workers at the location voted to unionize.

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