COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado — Chesapeake. Colorado Springs. Uvalde. Buffalo. Portland. Highland Park.

Mass shootings in big cities and small towns across the country have risen in the wake of the 2020 pandemic lockdowns. And amidst the grief and shock and loss, each one prompts more businesses, schools, hotels or nightclubs to toughen their own security response. 

And that, experts say, contributes to a simmering anxiety for potentially millions of Americans. While death in a mass shooting remains incredibly rare, public reminders of them are omnipresent. News about them is frequent. And the next one appears impossible to predict. 

A Walmart manager opened fire Tuesday night in the Chesapeake, Virginia, store where he worked, killing six and wounding at least five others before killing himself, authorities said.

Days before, a shooter killed five people at an LQBQT bar in Colorado Springs, Colorado, before being tackled by a former U.S. Army major and other patrons.

In between those two attacks, six other people were killed and 14 others wounded in shootings in Oklahoma, Mississippi, Texas and Illinois, according to the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive, which catalogs shootings of four or more people, excluding the shooter.

For the victims and survivors, each attack is intensely personal. And for the rest of us, each new attack chips away at out sense of safety and community. For some, the daily reminders become impossible to ignore. 

“It’s horrible we all have to live with this fear in the back of our minds constantly,” said Haylea Turner, 24, a longtime Club Q patron.

Turner was not at the club that night. She said that’s in part because she’s grown cautious about going places where other shootings have occurred, from movie theaters to college classrooms. 

“Due to the senseless nature of gun violence in America that is only horrifically worsening, I have lived a more sheltered life out of sheer fear,” she said.

Rising numbers, lasting effect

Recent years have set new records for the total number of mass shootings in the U.S., according to data from the Gun Violence Archive. Last year, with 690 total incidents, was the highest number since the project began tracking shootings in 2014. For this year, that number stood at 608 as of Wednesday. 

A separate joint effort by the Associated Press and USA TODAY that tracks mass killings, in which four or more people are killed, shows a similar trajectory.