In April the headlines showed mass shootings every day, Derek Chauvin was found guilty of murdering George Floyd, India and Brazil Covid cases exploded, and NASA flew a drone on Mars. Meanwhile, the US reported 32 million Covid total cases, or just under 10% of the population, and 576,000 total deaths.
April Begins with a Mass Shooting and Calls for Gun Control
Four people, including a child, were killed in a mass shooting at an office complex in Orange, California, on the last day of March. A fifth victim was wounded, as was the suspect after a gunfight with police ensued. It was the 17th mass shooting since the Atlanta massage parlor shootings only two weeks earlier.
On April 8 President Biden and urged Congress to pass broader gun-control legislation. Biden ordered the Justice Dept. to craft rules and legislation to curb ghost guns and short-barrel rifles such as the popular AR-15 pistol. He also ordered the DOJ to craft model “red flag” legislation for States to enact that would temporarily bar someone from guns. The Supreme Court announced it will hear a case next term that challenges a New York law prohibiting concealed carry.
How Many People Die in Mass Shootings?
In 2019 there were 434 mass shootings, defined as four or more people shot in the same incindent, resulting in 517 deaths and 1,643 injuries, for a total of 2,160 victims. In 2020 there were 615 mass shootings in the US. 521 died, and 2,541 were injured. In all, there are about 40,000 firearms deaths per year in the US, with half being suicide. Last month saw 65 mass shootings, compared to 26 incidents in March of 2020.
Record Gun Sales Amid Mass Shootings
The pandemic, civil unrest, and the threat of gun control legislation has pushed gun sales to an all-time high, helped by first-time gun buyers. Federal background checks for gun purchases spike after mass shootings, and last month saw six of the top ten days ever for background checks. In March 2021, the FBI completed nearly 4.7 million background checks compared to 3.7 million in the same month the year before. A survey among gun stores showed that 40% of purchases are by first-time gun owners.
Americans Resume Shopping, Travel and Movies
April began with ten times more Americans traveling by air than a year ago when Covid restrictions started, and American Airlines announced adding 1,000 pilots by year’s end. American tourists who have been fully vaccinated will be allowed to visit the European Union this summer. But as of right now the US State Department’s highest warning against travel is effective to 80% of the world. The new movie King Kong vs Godzilla had the highest-grossing box office opening since the pandemic started. As America gets vaccinated and returns to work, they are shopping for “back to work” clothes.
NASA Flies Drone on Mars
The drone Ingenuity, delivered to Mars under the belly of Perserverance, took flight in April. Perserverance also made oxygen from carbon dioxide, a process which could be used to breath or in rocket fuel on future missions.
Crisis at the Border
Nearly 19,000 unaccompanied children entered U.S. border custody in March, an all-time monthly high. The record arrivals quickly overwhelmed the U.S. government’s infrastructure to process lone minors. Border Patrol was not equipped to house the unaccompanied minors, mostly from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala. The acute overcrowding forced the Biden administration to convert convention centers, military sites, and work camps into makeshift shelters. So far, HHS has opened more than a dozen of these emergency facilities in Texas and California and has more than 22,000 underaged illegal immigrants in custody. They are working to release the kids to family members already in the country.
2 Killed in Tesla Autopilot Crash
Two men, one in the back seat and the other in the passenger seat, were killed in a fiery crash after they let the autopilot drive unassisted. Despite the name, Tesla’s driver-assist functions still require a driver. The car ran into a tree, and the battery burned for four hours while firefighters doused it with 30,000 gallons of water.
Biden Orders All Troops Out of Afghanistan by September 11th
Biden announced that the remaining 2,500 US troops would be coming home by Sept. 11, the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks that sparked a U.S. invasion of Afghanistan.
States Legalize Recreational Marijuana
New Mexico, New York and Virginia legalized recreational marijuana this month. In polls, two-thirds of Americans support legaization, and now 43% of the population live in states where pot is legal.
Effective immediately, New Yorkers may possess up to three ounces of marijuana. However, it’s still illegal to buy it, with legal sales not starting until next year. New York is now the 16th State to allow recreational use. Virginia is the 17th State to legalize marijuana, and the first southern State. Viriginians can now possess and grow it, but legal sales are expected to take a couple years.
Derek Chauvin Found Guilty of Murder of George Floyd
Across the country businesses boarded up windows, law enforcement was on high alert, and National Guard troops were deployed in anticipation of rioting if a not guilty verdict was returned. As closing arguments in the trial began, Democratic US Representative Maxine Waters called for protesters to “stay on the street” and “get more confrontational” if Derek Chauvin is acquitted. Even President Biden prayed to his deity for a guilty verdict.
Crowds, celebrities and even the President celebrated when Derek Chauvin was found guilty on all counts. During the trial, many of Derek Chauvin’s law enforcement colleagues disagreed with how he restrained George Floyd. The Sergeant on duty said that department policy did allow officers to use a knee to restrain a subject but only until that subject is handcuffed and under control.
Daunte Wright Shooting Keeps Minneapolis Tense
Only days after the prosecution rested its case against Chaivin, another black man in the Minneapolis area was shot by police. What started as a routine traffic stop escalated when officers discovered a warrant for the arrest of 20-year-old Daunte Wright. When he resisted arrest, 26-year veteran officer Kim Davis shot the suspect once, thinking she was using her taser gun instead. Immediate rioting followed, and dozens were arrested. The officer and the police chief both resigned, and the officer was charged. Wright’s arrest warrant was related to his arrest of aggravated armed robbery of a woman.
April 2021 Covid-19 News
By the middle of April there were more than 3 million deaths worldwide from the novel coronavirus that emerged in 2019. Meanwhile, half of Americans 18 years or older have received at least one dose of vaccine.
Read the April 2021 Covid-19 news summary.