Mass shootings have been on the rise for nearly two decades ― and they’re so prevalent that investigators are struggling to keep up.
Law enforcement agencies are grappling with the sheer number of active shooter investigations on their plates, FBI special agent in charge Christopher Combs said after a shooter killed at least seven people and wounded more than 20 others in West Texas on Saturday.
“If you look at the numbers, we’re looking at an active shooter every other week in this country,” Combs said, according to CNN.
An FBI study on active shooters reveals a similarly bleak trend. Incidents involving an active shooter ― which the FBI defines as “an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated area,” like schools and shopping centers ― increased between 2000 and 2018. And over the past two months, shooters have killed more than 40 people in Texas, Ohio and California.
The frequency of such attacks is wearing on investigators and government officials.
“I think it is frustrating for all of us in law enforcement that we keep having to do this,” Combs said. “For the FBI in particular, we do them across the country as a service to our state and local partners. It’s just getting worse.”
Investigators are getting at least some help from the public. The FBI reported a spike in tips after an alleged white nationalist fatally shot 22 people in El Paso on Aug. 3, and authorities have since arrested more than 40 people as potential mass shooters.
Meanwhile, however, Texas is making it easier to access guns, despite having been home to four of the 10 deadliest mass shootings in modern U.S. history. Within hours of the mass shooting in West Texas, a series of laws passed by the state legislature earlier this year, which loosen gun restrictions, went into effect ― including a law that allows weapons on school grounds, as well as in churches and apartments, WQAD reports.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said he was tired of seeing the violence in his state, but hours later he oversaw and defended the relaxed gun restrictions.
“I have been to too many of these events,” he said. “I am heartbroken by the crying of the people in the state of Texas. I am tired of the dying of the people of Texas. Too many Texans are in mourning. Too many Texans have lost their lives. The status quo in Texas is unacceptable, and action is needed.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story erroneously stated that Texas’ new gun laws were passed over the weekend. They went into effect over the weekend; they were passed earlier this year.