Time’s up for US gun control

Last week Tuesday, 18-year old Salvador Ramos walked into Robb Elementary School in Texas and shot and killed 19 children and two teachers. It happened when The Wrap was on a break, but it’s still worth unpacking. 

It was the third-deadliest school shooting in “the land of the free”, and the deadliest in Texas. Although there are concerns about the police’s delayed response to the shooting, gun control is the real issue here. 

As the BBC put it: “We all know that the right to bear arms is protected by the Second Amendment of the US Constitution. What is less clear to those on the outside is why a document written nearly 250 years ago in response to a revolutionary war still has such resonance in 2022.”’ 

There a couple of answers to that question:

🔹For many US citizens, the right to bear arms is equivalent to the right of freedom of speech. In most other democratic countries, including ours, one has to pass stringent tests to acquire a weapon. 

🔹The country’s complex legislation model and “partisan” politics, meaning extreme division between the two dominant parties (the conservative Republicans and usually more liberal Democrats), on issues like this. Former Democrat president Barack Obama was blocked by Republicans from passing a gun-control bill following the 2012 Sandy Hook school shootings. President Joe Biden, a Democrat, is hoping to bring more Republicans to the table to change that.

🔹The country’s pro-gun lobby, typified by The National Rifle Association, is very powerful. It went ahead with its Texas conference days after the shooting, pushing the narrative that putting more guns in the hands of the “good guys” is the answer to the problem. Some gun lobby groups are already teaching teachers how to carry and use concealed weapons.

Yet evidence shows stricter gun laws save lives. As the LA Times notes, In 2005, California had almost the same rate of deaths from guns as Florida and Texas. Since then, California repeatedly has tightened its gun laws, while Florida and Texas have relaxed theirs. The result? California’s rate of gun deaths declined by 10% since then. Texas and Florida’s climbed by 28% and 37% respectively. 

Until the US overcomes its divisions and follows California’s lead mass shootings will remain an American constant.

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