Only in America: A computer algorithm about guns has been created to predict who is most likely to be shot soon, or to shoot someone.
The Chicago Police Department, desperate to reduce gun violence by street gangs, authorized this unusual tool three years ago and has been using it to track and caution the most likely offenders.
It is a remarkable state of affairs that local governments must resort to such an approach to deal with the reality of gun mayhem. Yet it is sadly understandable, too, as a timid Congress cowed by the gun lobby fails to enact stronger gun-control laws for a nation increasingly flooded with high-powered weapons.
As a rule, a public anesthetized by gun abuse tends to pay attention to the ubiquity of guns in this country when massacres seize the headlines, like the San Bernardino terrorist attack that left 14 dead, or the shooting of 20 schoolchildren in Connecticut. But the full problem is far more widespread, deadly and almost routine, according to a survey by a team of reporters from The Times reviewing a year of these multiple shootings.
Tracking 358 armed encounters last year in which four or more people were killed or wounded, including attackers, the team counted 462 dead and 1,330 wounded, some scarred for life.
These brief, lethal outbursts of gunfire stirred no national concern. As a sum, they register like a dispatch from a secret war zone. They were sparked by minor, often drunken grievances — forgettable if guns had not been at hand. And the victims in these shootings are just a subset of the nearly 11,000 Americans killed by guns and the estimated 60,000 wounded each year in single homicides and assaults.
This is a public health challenge of critical proportions deserving a thorough debate from the presidential candidates. Yet Donald Trump, in his march toward the Republican nomination, has made a befuddling series of corkscrew turns on guns, depending on his audience.
He went for full-throated Second Amendment pandering before the National Rifle Association, which endorsed him, last Friday. But two days later, talking to an interviewer on national TV, not gun zealots at a convention, he backed away from his vow earlier this year to ban all gun-free zones in schools on Day 1 in the White House. In his latest molting, Mr. Trump wants guns allowed only “in some cases” where teachers can be armed and trained.
In contrast, Hillary Clinton, the likely Democratic candidate, has for months been proposing a consistent agenda of gun controls. Mr. Trump previously favored a ban on assault weapons, but he dropped that once he was running as a Republican.
Mr. Trump’s supporters should be asking where in all his tweets and thunder there is believable concern for the nation’s gun victims instead of adolescent fantasies that they would have been better off armed for a “shootout.”
A Drumbeat of Multiple Shootings,but America Isn’t Listening SHARON LAFRANIERE, DANIELA PORAT and AGUSTIN ARMENDARIZMAY 22, 2016