As of today’s date, there have been 102 mass shootings in the United States just this year, and it’s only March. The recent horrific mass shootings in both Atlanta and Boulder have again brought up the discussion advocating for gun reforms. A once in a century pandemic cannot be the only thing that slows mass shootings in this country. In many ways, our lives are starting to feel normal again after a long, difficult year filled with so much loss. Sadly, the return to mass shootings is also a sign of a return to “normal” in the United States.
According to the FBI, the violent crime rate has fallen significantly over the last two decades. This welcome trend does not seem to reflect what the main stream media has been reporting over the last few years. This post examines one aspect of the data.
It’s been almost three decades since Congress last passed a meaningful gun control bill in 1994, when they banned assault weapons for a decade. After Bill Clinton banned assault weapons in 1994, mass shooting deaths dropped by 43 percent. After the Republican Congress let the ban expire in 2004, mass shootings shot up by 239 percent. We don’t need to arm teachers; we need to ban assault weapons again. Nobody needs or has the right to own or use assault weapons that are mass killing machines.
It’s way past due for this country to take real, concrete steps on gun safety. Expanding background checks for firearm purchases will almost certainly be the top priority. While universal background checks are overwhelmingly popular among both Democrats and the general public, Republican lawmakers have blocked expansions at every turn. Despite years of inactivity, gun control activists see the momentum as on their side. Years of lethal mass shootings have swung public sentiment strongly in favor of expanded background checks.
In 2018, Congress, then still under Republican control, dropped what was effectively a twenty year ban on using federal funding to study gun violence. Republicans also supported spending money to beef up the federal background check database. The ball is in your court, Congress. America is watching and begging for meaningful gun reforms.
We should be able to go to school or go out with our friends or worship together without mentally planning our escape if someone shows up with a gun. We should be able to live our lives without wondering if the next trip outside our home could be our last. We should. But in America, we can’t. We can overcome the pressure of a gun lobby that opposes any limit on the ability of anyone to buy a gun. It’s time for leaders everywhere to listen to the American people when they say enough is enough because this is a normal we cannot afford any longer.
Interestingly, gun-related killings per capita have remained relatively flat:
Also noteworthy is that the homicide rate per capita in the United States is remarkably low compared to the rest of the world: