Two shootings in one day, and on July 4. This year's Independence Day weekend, when Americans celebrated nationhood with carnivals and parades, was marred by appalling gun violence.
At least six people were reportedly killed in a shooting in downtown Highland Park, Illinois, during a July 4th parade, with dozens of others injured. Just hours later, two police officers were reportedly shot in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania's largest city, during an Independence Day fireworks show.
"On a day that we came together to celebrate community and freedom, we're instead mourning the tragic loss of life," said Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering.
Perhaps for Americans, there is hardly a more patriotic place to celebrate Independence Day than Philadelphia. But the birthplace of American Independence is now tarnished by violence and overshadowed by shock, grief and anger. How ironic.
The shootings added another heart-wrenching page to America's appalling -- and seemingly intractable -- record of gun violence.
Americans tried to enjoy a day off, but there are no days off for gun violence. It could happen anywhere, anytime, and can instantly pull one family after another into inconsolable trauma.
According to the nonprofit research group Gun Violence Archive, at least 310 mass shootings have claimed more than 22,000 lives so far this year.
The bloodshed on Independence Day has once again laid bare gun violence as a tumor bedeviling the US society, chronically dividing the nation and eroding public trust in Washington's capacity to govern.
Worse still, the US Supreme Court, as the highest authority to uphold the country's Constitution, added tensions over gun control in late June by striking down a century-old New York State law requiring gun owners to have probable cause in order to carry a concealed weapon.
The right to life is an inherent and inalienable human right, but it seems that some Washington elites do not think so. While chanting "freedom from fear" as a fundamental birthright for every individual, they have done little to bridge the partisan divide and keep Americans safe.
Gun violence continues to rattle the American society, and no solutions appear within reach. In the end, ordinary Americans have fallen victim to a dysfunctional system and a failed government.