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Another Mass Shooting Highlights America’s Stubborn Gun Control Divide

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America’s shameful tradition of gun violence resurfaced Tuesday night at a Walmart in Chesapeake, Virginia.

At least six people were killed at the store, local officials say, with four other victims in area hospitals.

This follows a shooting at the University of Virginia that left three dead less than two weeks ago and, even more recently, a shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs that left five dead.

It’s hard not to view each incident as another outcome of the polarized gun debate in the United States.

Many Americans view their right to bear arms, enshrined in the US Constitution, as sacrosanct. But others say that this right threatens another: the right to life.

Each shooting seems to anchor the respective convictions of each.

In an all-too-familiar cycle, a shooting will cause some to push for more gun control and others to push for less gun regulation. A tense debate unfolds before the issue fades from the national conversation.

Then another shot happens – and we start the cycle all over again.

President Joe Biden called again on Wednesday for congressional action, but the reality of a divided Congress comes in January makes this unlikely.

“This year I signed the most important gun reform in a generation, but it is not enough. We need to do more,” the president said in a statement.

The most interesting political response to watch is Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin, who has been touted by some as future power player in Republican politics.

“Our hearts break with the Chesapeake community this morning. I remain in contact with law enforcement officials throughout the morning and have made available all necessary resources as this investigation progresses. Heinous acts of violence have no place in our communities,” Youngkin tweeted Wednesday morning.

His post echoes his response to the University of Virginia shooting. “I know there’s nothing that can be said, there’s nothing that can be made to bring them today all kinds of comfort. And so, I think it’s time for us to come together to support them, to pray for them, to recognize that as a community, this is a chance to come together, to mourn and to support them. It’s just awful, there’s no other way to describe it,” Youngkin told a makeshift memorial at the school.

On Thanksgiving Day, Youngkin also inquired about his condition in a Tweeter to “uplift in prayer” the families of those killed in the mass shootings.

His answers – sincere as they are – lack any mention of firearms.

If Youngkin is indeed the future “unifier” of the Republican Party, it does not appear that this extends to gun control.

According to a January study, there is a direct correlation in states with weaker gun laws and higher rates of gun deaths, including homicides, suicides and accidental murders. published by Everytown for Gun Safety, a non-profit organization focused on gun violence prevention.

Yet the political debate about gun control in America often becomes independent of data.

Consider this: there were at least 607 mass shootings up to November 22 this year, defined as one in which at least four people are shot. That’s just short of the 638 mass shootings in the country at this point last year – the worst year on record since the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive started tracking them in 2014. There were a total of 690 mass shootings in 2021.

The United States is expected to soon surpass the total of 610 mass shootings in 2020, with more than a month of 2022 to go.

What’s worse is the direction in which the data is moving. According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the firearm homicide rate was 8.3% higher in 2021 than it was in 2020. Firearm suicide rates among those 10 years and older also increased by 8.3% from 2020 to 2021. And the percentage of homicides attributed to gunshot wounds increased from 79% in 2020 to 81% in 2021, the highest percentage bred for over 50 years.

It certainly doesn’t have to be that way. Countries that have introduced laws to reduce gun-related deaths have made significant changes, according to a previous in-depth analysis by CNN:

Australia. Less than two weeks after Australia’s worst mass shooting, the federal government has introduced a new scheme banning rapid-fire rifles and shotguns and unifying the licensing and registration of gun owners across the country. the country. Over the next 10 years, gun deaths in Australia fell by more than 50%. A 2010 study found that the government’s 1997 buyout scheme – part of the overall reform – led to an average drop in firearm suicide rates of 74% in the five years that followed. .

South Africa. Gun-related deaths nearly halved over a 10-year period after new gun legislation, the Gun Control Act 2000, came into force in July 2004. The new laws have made it much harder to get a gun.

New Zealand. Gun laws were quickly changed after the Christchurch mosque shootings in 2019. Just 24 hours after the attack, in which 51 people were killed, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that the law would change. Less than a month later, New Zealand’s parliament voted almost unanimously to change the country’s gun laws, banning all military-style semi-automatic weapons.

Brittany. (The country) tightened its gun laws and banned most private handgun ownership after a 1996 mass shooting, a move that saw the number of gun deaths drop by nearly a quarter in a decade.

But America’s relationship to guns is unique, and our gun culture is a global aberration. For now, the murderous cycle of violence seems destined to continue.

As a reminder, Biden signed into law the bipartisan Safer Communities Act in June after the House and Senate approved the measure. The package represents the most significant federal legislation to address gun violence since the 10-year assault weapons ban expired in 1994.

“God willing, it will save a lot of lives,” Biden said at the White House as he signed the bill.

The package includes $750 million to help states implement and manage crisis response programs, which can be used to manage red flag programs, as well as other response programs in crisis such as mental health, drug courts and veterans courts.

The red flag laws, approved by the Federal Measure, are also known as the Extreme Risk Protection Order laws. They allow the courts to temporarily seize firearms from anyone deemed to be a danger to themselves or others.

The legislation encourages states to include minors’ records in the nation’s Instant Criminal Background Check system, which would provide a more comprehensive background check for people between the ages of 18 and 21 who want to buy guns.

It also forces more people who sell guns as a primary source of income to register as federally licensed gun dealers, who are required to administer background checks before selling a gun to fire someone.

The law prohibits firearms to anyone convicted of a crime of domestic violence who has a “continuing serious relationship of a romantic or intimate nature.” The law, however, allows those convicted of domestic violence offenses to restore their gun rights after five years if they have not committed other crimes.

On Thursday, Biden told reporters he would work with Congress “to try to get rid of assault weapons.”

Pressed on whether he would try to do it during the lame duck session, he said: “I’m going to do it every time – I have to do that assessment as soon as I walk in and start counting the votes.”

Congress returns next week with a jam-packed to-do list in the lame duck session, focused primarily on the must-see government funding bill, as well as other priorities. But any action on gun legislation — particularly the ban on assault weapons that Biden has repeatedly called for — lacks the necessary votes. And the reality of a divided Congress in next year’s session makes it highly unlikely that anything will happen in the next two years.

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